OER or “open educational resources” is a term created by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), in 2002, at a forum on open courseware for higher education.
UNESCO defines open educational resources as materials used to support education that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared.
Since then, other definitions of OER have emerged including:
“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 and Flora Hewitt Foundation).
OER are “digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students, and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning, and research. OER includes learning content, software tools to develop, use, and distribute content, and implementation resources such as open licences” (OECD, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).
“The term “Open Educational Resource(s)” (OER) refers to educational resources (lesson plans, quizzes, syllabi, instructional modules, simulations, etc.) that are freely available for use, reuse, adaptation, and sharing” (The Wikieducator OER Handbook).
What these definitions have in common is that open educational resources have open copyright licenses which give everyone, everywhere; the right to access, adapt and republish without limitations the use of materials for non-commercial and often even commercial purposes (Creative Commons).
Content creators still retain rights over materials and have their works acknowledged by users. However open content is shared without the arduous task of asking permission or paying licensing fees.
Content creators who wish to openly share their work can state as such or create an attribution through Creative Commons, a non-profit global organization dedicated to worldwide open sharing of knowledge. Creative Commons does not store open source content rather its purpose is to facilitate the exchange of open source materials.
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