Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Pedagogy

Open Education Resources (OER) - The What


OER are defined as learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation, and redistribution by others.  

Definition by UNESCO  
Source UNESCO Mandate in OER  

Watch this short video to learn more about Open Educational Resources concept: What is an OER? (

Benefits of OER[1]

  • Free (or low-cost if printed) and thus affordable
  • Can be used and shared with an unlimited number of students without fear of copyright infringement [2]  
  • Customizable and adaptable with few restrictions to meet student needs, teaching methods, curriculum, and recent developments  
  • Can be combined with other content and interactive or multimedia elements to provide richer teaching and learning opportunities  
  • Offer first-day, remote and continued access since most OER are digital, do not require an access code, and do not expire  
  • Contribute to success and completion by easing students’ financial burden without having a negative impact on their learning[3]  
  • Can be an opportunity for engagement and participation by co-creating knowledge with students in the form of renewable assignments rather than limiting their role to that of consumers of information[4]  

Five Core Principles

David Wiley, one of the pioneers of OER, suggests that there are five core principles of open publishing, better known as the 5Rs[1]:

  • Reuse: The most basic level of openness. People are allowed to use all or part of the work for their own purposes (for example, download an educational video to watch at a later time);
  • Redistribute: People can share the work with others (for example, send a digital article by-email to a colleague);
  • Revise: People can adapt, modify, translate, or change the work (for example, take a book written in English and turn it into a Spanish audio book);
  • Remix: People can take two or more existing resources and combine them to create a new resource (for example, take audio lectures from one course and combine them with slides from another course to create a new derivative work);
  • Retain: No digital rights management restrictions (DRM); the content is yours to keep, whether you’re the author, an instructor using the material, or a student.

For more information about OERs, visit The Learning Portal’s OER Toolkit.


  1. Mastering Open Ed: Licensing, Accessibility, Creation, and Publishing OER. (2023). eCampusOntario. OER – The What and Why – Mastering Open Ed: Licensing, Accessibility, Creation, and Publishing OER (
  2. BCcampus, (2020), “The New Normal: Using OER to re-open education,” CC BY 4.0
  3. C. Hendricks et al., (2017), “The Adoption of an Open Textbook in a Large Physics Course: An Analysis of Cost, Outcomes, Use, and Perceptions,” The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning 18(4), CC BY 4.0; R.S. Jhangiani et al., (2018), “As Good or Better than Commercial Textbooks: Students’ Perceptions and Outcomes from Using Open Digital and Open Print Textbooks,” The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 9(1); H.M. Ross et al., (2018), “Open Textbooks in an Introductory Sociology Course in Canada: Student Views and Completion Rates,” Open Praxis 10(4), CC BY 4.0; V. Clinton & S. Khan, (2019), “Efficacy of Open Textbook Adoption on Learning Performance and Course Withdrawal Rates: A Meta-Analysis,” AERA Open, CC BY-NC 4.0
  4. Canadian Association of Research Libraries, (2020), “The Time is Now for Open Educational Resources,” CC BY-NC-SA 4.0