Skip to Main Content

Open Educational Resources and Zero-Cost Course Materials

What are Open Educational Resources?



UNESCO Definition: Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium- digital or otherwise- that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license the permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.

The 5 Rs of OER

OER users have permission to: 

Retain: Make, own, and control copies of content

Reuse: Use unaltered content in a wide range of ways (posting on Canvas, distributing in class, emailing to colleagues and students, etc.)

Revise: Adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself

Remix: The original or revised content can be combined with other open content to create something new

Redistribute: Original content, your revisions, and your remixes can be shared with others

Open vs. Zero-Cost

Open Materials:

  • Example: Open Educational Resources such as OpenStax Textbooks 
  • Funding for creation often provided through grants from non-profit organizations
  • Anyone can access and use the materials without restriction
  • Materials are open domain or have licenses that specifically allow adaptation and sharing 

Zero-Cost Materials:

  • Example: Library or university resources such as books, ebooks, journals, software, etc. 
  • No additional cost for students, but the university pays to purchase
  • Only accessible to current members of the university students, faculty, staff
  • Licenses vary, limiting or prohibiting the capability for saving, remixing, adapting, or sharing materials