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Open Educational Resources

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

Open licenses

Open educational materials have an "open" license. 

Licenses are a way of giving permission to someone to use your work in a certain way. (When you hear "license," think "permission.") You've probably seen Creative Commons licenses in educational settings. Similar to open source software licenses, they allow the creator (or rights holder, if copyright has been transferred) of an educational or scholarly work to retain their copyright while granting users permission to use their work in certain ways. All the creator needs to do is share the license on the work itself.

Depending on the license chosen by the creator, users may be allowed to:

  • Retain - make, own, and control a copy of the resource (e.g., download and keep your own copy)
  • Revise - edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource (e.g., translate into another language)
  • Remix - combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new (e.g., make a mashup)
  • Reuse - use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g., on a website, in a presentation, in a class)
  • Redistribute - share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others (e.g., post a copy online or give one to a friend)

Open licenses are less restrictive than "all rights reserved" copyright, where a creator does not specify any type of license, but more restrictive than works in the public domain, where copyright has expired, or where a rights holder has waived all rights to their work.

Range of public domain to all rights reserved copyright, with open license in the middle

Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources was written by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at

Public Domain to All Rights Reserved Copyright Range is from How to Use Open Educational Resources training by WA SBCTCCC BY 4.0.

Types of Creative Commons Licenses

Learn more about each of the Creative Commons Licenses.

Make your own work more open

For content that you create, consider making it more open and available for more people to use and reuse.

Creative Commons licenses are a simple, standardized way to give others permission to share and use your work without others having to ask your permission -- on conditions of your choice. 

Simply choose which license you prefer and mark your work which license you've chosen.

  • For content for which you hold all rights, you can assign a Creative Commons license which tells other how they can use your work without having to request permission.
  • For work that you plan to publish, consider retaining rights with the publisher prior to publication.
  • Or for content published previously, consider sharing more openly through your own website, a subject repository, or our institutional repository Digital Commons @ SPU.