The Rise of Open Education Resources

"OER Logo" by Unknown - Unknown.

“OER Logo” by Unknown – Unknown.

With the advent of MOOCs and growth in open education, OERs (Open Education Resources) have risen to prominence. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation have defined OER as: “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

OERs present an opportunity to transform education by increasing access and reducing cost for students on a global scale. Initiatives like the Khan Academy and MIT Open CourseWare highlight the extent to which OERs can provide access to free high quality educational resources.

Within Australia a report under an Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) funded project has recently been released titled Supporting OER Engagement at Australian Universities. The report concludes that a statement of intent to release content under Open licences should be included in university policy to ensure that the practical benefits of OER can be realized. Building on this work, Swinburne University and the University of Tasmania have received a grant from OLT to undertake a 2 year research project on effective open licensing policy and practice for Australian Universities. The project aim is to develop a toolkit as a practical online resource for university staff.

The United States is leading OER initiatives by mandating that billions of dollars in funding to create tertiary courseware are supplied on condition that the works created are made openly available, under a Creative Commons licence.

The range and quality of OERs is growing and can present a significant time saver and cost reduction in the development of online educational resources. There is less worry about compliance because permission allows as much or as little as needed to be reused by anyone, anywhere, anytime.

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons allows a copyright owner to choose from a number of open content licenses to specify how materials can be shared, re-used and re-mixed.

Further information

How to find OER materials?

The Creative Commons portal is a good starting point for finding open licensed material that can be freely used in your courses (including music and images).

Additional resources to assist you in locating resources to support your teaching include:

Announcing MERLOT II: Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching

How to search for openly licensed educational resources

Search tips

OER Commons

Open Textbooks and access to Higher Education

Using OER materials

For openly licensed works, cite and reference the work in the same way you normally would, but you must always include the type of open licence with any citation and preferably link back to the licence so that readers can check the licence terms. Examples can be found on the Creative Commons wiki.


Generally, open formats are presented simply, which may lead to a misperception of being lower quality than richly formatted works that are difficult to reuse. For example, post-prints (the edited submitted article without publisher formatting) contains exactly the same information as the publisher print and may be retrieved at no cost from institutional repositories.


Di Selzer
Manager Griffith Online Project Team
Learning Futures




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s