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Open Access Resources: Module 3: Understanding OER and Module 4: Open Licenses

Internet Archive Digital Library

Module 3: Understanding OER

Module 3: Understanding OER

We will start the lesson discussing what open educational resources are. Please watch the video first and read through the content. It is important to understand the concept of open educational resources as it will be the base for the rest of the modules.

Have you ever found something from the internet that could be a perfect resource (image, video, quiz, etc.) for your course, and you spent hours trying to figure out the copyright issues with that resource? You couldn’t find any Terms of Use, and there was no author information, so you didn’t know who to contact to get the permission?

Wouldn’t it have been nice if that resource somehow said “I’m free to use, no strings attached, you don’t need to ask for my permission because it is already granted”?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are an answer to that need.

There are millions of educational resources out there that are available for others to freely use. There are all kinds: full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and many other tools, materials and techniques used to support access to knowledge.

Here is how OER is defined in more specific and fancy terms:

Open educational resources (OER) are educational materials that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others (definition by Hewlett Foundation).

To put it another way. OER meet these criteria in:

    • Format: materials in any medium, digital or otherwise
    • Conditions: that either
      • reside in the public domain or
      • have been released under an open license,
    • Nature: permits its free use and re-purposing by others.

To see how others define OER, please visit What is OER by Creative Commons.

Now that we’ve had a chance to discuss the concept of OER let’s dig a bit deeper. We’ve just learned that, in order to be an OER, the resource should be either in the public domain or released with an open license. Let’s talk about what the open license and public domain mean in the next Modules.

Module 4: Open Licenses

Module 4: Open Licenses

What is an open license?

If you recall, in Module 2 we explained that a license is permission you get from the copyright owner of the work you want to use

An OPEN license is a type of license that grants permission to access, re-use and redistribute a work with few or no restrictions.

Where did it all start?

Allow me to give you a bit of background. You have probably heard of an open source license, a type of license for computer software that allows source code to be used, modified and shared under defined terms.

The free software movement was launched in 1983. Since then, the folks in the computer software world have been widely developing and sharing open source code with a clear licensing system. Additionally, other open licenses in computer-related areas have been developed, such as open database licenses and open game licenses.

How do we openly license the rest of the materials that are not computer related?

In 2001, inspired by this open source license move in the computer software world, a group of experts comprised of educators, technologists, legal scholars, investors, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists gathered together. They worked to come up with a set of copyright licenses that would allow creators to easily share materials that were not software code, such as blogs, photos, films, books, etc.

They founded a nonprofit organization called Creative Commons and developed the first set of open licenses in 2002. These Creative Commons licenses brought clarity and ease to sharing materials online.

In summary, there are many open licenses developed for different areas of knowledge. Creative Commons licenses are the most widely used copyright licenses that allow creators to easily share materials that are not software code, such as blogs, photos, films, books, etc.

What Next?

We will discuss Creative Commons more specifically in Module 5