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Open Educational Resources

Guide for SPU faculty to use in considering, adopting, revising, evaluating, and creating OER for their courses.

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

Open Education Resources

Open Educational Resources (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."  

From The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

OER allow users to:

  • Retain -- users have the right to make, archive, and own copies of the content
  • Reuse -- content can be reused in its unaltered form
  • Revise -- content can be adapted, adjusted, modified, and altered
  • Remix -- original or revised content can be combined with other content to create something new
  • Redistribute -- copies of the content can be shared with others in its original, revised or remixed form.*

Because of the open license, open educational resources offer faculty a way to customize course content to course objectives, rather than following the agenda of a traditional textbook. Their low- or no-cost options allow for students to have immediate access to the materials they need for the quarter, without them having to make difficult decisions on how to acquire/pay for course texts or wait for items to arrive in the mail.

*This material is an adaptation of Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources, which was originally written by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at

Find OER

Open Textbooks have been released with an open license (usually a Creative Commons license) which allows them to be copied, shared and revised.

OER Repositories, such as OER Commons, MERLOT, OASIS, and Canvas Commons, contain more than just open textbooks. They also have other digital learning materials such as:

  • full courses
  • modules
  • syllabi
  • lectures
  • audiobooks
  • homework assignments
  • quizzes
  • lab activities
  • games
  • simulations


Other OER websites focus on open resources relating to particular topics or populations, such as:

Benefits and Challenges

What are some benefits and challenges in using OER?


  • Provides flexibility to faculty in matching course content to objectives
  • Can be customized/edited to include deeper faith integration
  • Saves costs for students (and makes it easier to have course materials day 1 of the quarter)
  • Helps preparation for course and retention of knowledge after courseOpen Access Week cookies
  • More clarity and/or certainty regarding reuse of materials
  • Way to diversify curriculum


  • Quality Assurance
  • Sustainability of OER
  • Limited supplementary materials for many OER
  • Lack of public understanding
  • Non-revocable nature of Creative Commons licenses

OER Faculty Webinar (50 minutes)

SPU community members: Please sign in to Panopto to view this webinar, if not redirected. 

This session was recorded with the intention of being made available to SPU employees who were unable to attend synchronously. 

PowerPoint slides for this session are available below (CC-BY-NC 4.0)