Curriculum design for open education/Introduction: Key concepts and big ideas/Locating open educational resources (OER)

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Locating open educational resources (OER)

882 million Creative Commons-licensed works in 2014 and counting

Irrespective of your field or fields of work and scholarship, there is likely a range of relevant, open educational resources available to help you teach, learn or support others to do so. A common definition of OER is that of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation:

“OER are 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” (William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, n.d., para. 2[1]). A key development took place in 2002 when MIT opened access to their course materials via the Open Courseware Project. Several early open education principles resonate strongly in the context of OER and subsequently OEP: removing barriers to access, providing greater flexibility for learners, responding to diversity, and recognising the knowledge bound within learners’ backgrounds and experience.

But, OER only fulfil their potential if they can be located, and integrated, reused and reworked in different contexts based on their licensing. In addition to institutions offering open courses, from micro courses to MOOCs (massive open online courses), there are a number of portals and repositories to assist with the location of OER. A comprehensive guide to finding OER (including search strategy guidance for images, audio and video) is provided by the Open Professionals Education Network (OPEN). The Open Educational Resources Handbook for Educators also includes a list of OER search engines and repositories.


  1. William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. (n.d., para. 2). Open educational resources. Retrieved January 20, 2015 from