Welcome to an introduction to Open Educational Resources.

This session will define what an Open Educational Resource is, including the different formats, explain Open Access Licences and how to access Creative Commons materials.

UNESCO has defined open educational resources as, 'digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research'.

OER formats can include – digital assets, like an image, information objects, learning objects, learning activities and learning design materials.

Open Access Licences like Creative Commons Licenses give those who own the copyright of a work the ability to give express permission to others to use that copyrighted work in certain ways.

For the creators, it provides some assurance that their work will be acknowledged by anyone using the open resources they have created. For users, it provides a degree of assurance that they can draw upon open educational resources without fearing subsequent litigation about copyright as long as they adhere to the terms of the license.

There are four Licence elements:

  1. Firstly 'Attribution', which denotes that you must credit the creator, the title and the licence that the work is under.
  2. Secondly, 'Non-Commercial' which indicates that a work must be used for non-commercial purposes only.
  3. The third element is 'No derivative works' where only verbatim copies of works must be used, the work must not be changed in any way.
  4. The fourth element is 'Share Alike', which states that Any new work produced using this material must be made available under the same terms.

These elements can be paired together to create six different Creative Commons Licences from quite open licence like 'Attribution' listed at the top of the table which allows, 'Commercial and non-commercial use, users can copy, adapt or modify, distribute and license to others' to licences with more restrictions like 'Attribution-Noncommercial-No derivative Works' which is only allowed for 'non-commercial use, users can copy and distribute verbatim copies to others'.

Users of Creative Commons Licenced materials have specific obligations, including:

  • Always attribute the creator of the work
  • Get permission from the creator to do anything that goes beyond the terms of the licence
  • Keep any copyright notice attached to the work intact on all copies of the work
  • Indicate and link to the licence from any copies of the work
  • Where you make changes to the work, acknowledge the original work and indicate that changes have been made
  • Some creators require you to also send them a copy of any resources you create which incorporate their material
  • It is important to be sure to check the licence terms on each item before use.

You should always attribute the original work by adding a notice giving the following information. These details can usually be found on the original item and include:

  • The name of the creator of the original work
  • The name of the item
  • The details of the licence it was provided under
  • The web site address of the original item.

Here is an example attribution, you can see that it includes the Name of the creator, Title, Licence details and the website where the item was accessed.

There are a number of online collections of Open Educational Resources, including the Open Courseware Consortium, MERLOT and Open Learn. It is important to remember when using these resources, to check that a Creative Commons Licence is in place, be aware of the implications of the Licence and to attribute items correctly.