Open Educational Resources
The concept of open educational resources only exists and has relevancy in the legal context of copyright law. Where copyright law does not exist, there is no need for a concept like OER. As such, OER is fundamentally a legal construct, built on the idea of legal rights or permissions and requirements granted by creators to intended users.
The most commonly accepted set of permissions are the 5R Activities, developed and defined by David Wiley. These include permission to retain, revise, remix, reuse, and redistribute copyrightable works (Wiley, n.d.). Wiley describes each of these permissions with examples:
- Retain - make, own, and control a copy of the resource (e.g., download and keep your own copy)
- Revise - edit, adapt, and modify a copy of the resource (e.g., translate into another language)
- Remix - combine an original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new (e.g., make a mashup)
- Reuse - use an original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g., on a website, in a presentation, in a class)
- Redistribute - share copies of an original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others (e.g., post a copy online or give one to a friend)
In addition to permissions, creators of OER often reserve some rights and requirements on the use of their works that are less than the “all rights reserved” restrictions of full copyright but more than the “no rights reserved” status of works in the public domain. The most widely used international schema for reserving these rights and notifying users of their existence is a standard set of six copyright licenses developed and maintained by Creative Commons (Creative Commons, 2020a; Kimmons, 2018; cf. Table 1). To release a work under one of these licenses, authors simply need to append the desired symbol and link to their work.
The Six Creative Commons Copyright Licenses
Four of the six Creative Commons licenses are used in the legal creation of OER: CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, CC-BY-NC, and CC-BY-NC-SA because these licenses allow for all of the 5R Activities. The last two licenses, CC-BY-ND and CC-BY-NC-ND, do not allow users to remix or revise a work, and thus violate these core elements of the definition of OER.
OER is the subject of much academic research, with widely varying goals and approaches. A large corpus of research is built on a framework first described by (Bliss et al, 2013; Open Education Group, n.d.) known as the COUP Framework, which explores the impact of OER through the lenses of Cost, Outcomes, Uses, and Perceptions. Several meta-analyses of OER research have been published as well, exploring the overall impact of OER across various metrics and in various contexts (Colvard et al., 2020; Grewe & Davis, 2017; Hendricks et al., 2017; Hilton, 2016; Ikahihifo et al., 2017; Jhangiani & Jhangiani, 2017; Martin et al., 2017).
Policy related to OER has been implemented throughout the world at many different levels of governance, including institutional, municipal, regional, national and international (Idaho State Board of Education, 2021; SPARC, n.d.). Such policies typically incentivize the adoption and use of OER by educators. In 2019, UNESCO adopted a Recommendation on OER that requires all member states to “monitor policies and mechanisms related to OER using a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches” (UNESCO, 2019).
OER-Enabled Pedagogy, Open Education, Open Educational Practices, Open Licensing, Open Pedagogy, Open Textbooks
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Colvard, N. B., Watson, C. E., & Park, H. (2018). The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30(2).
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Hendricks, C., Reinsberg, S. A., & Rieger, G. W. (2017). The adoption of an open textbook in a large physics course: An analysis of cost, outcomes, use, and perceptions. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(4). https://edtechbooks.org/-ZhIz
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Suggested Citation& (2023). Open Educational Resources. EdTechnica: The Open Encyclopedia of Educational Technology. https://edtechbooks.org/encyclopedia/oer
CC BY: This work is released under a CC BY license, which means that you are free to do with it as you please as long as you properly attribute it.
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