Skip to Main Content

OER & ZTC: About OER

What are OER?

Section 67423 of California Education Code defines Open Educational Resources (OER) as: 

"high-quality teaching, learning, and research resources that:

  1. Reside in the public domain or
  2. Have been released under an intellectual property license, such as a Creative Commons license, that permits their free use and repurposing by others, and
  3. May include other resources that are legally available and free of cost to students."

Open educational resources include, but are not limited to: textbooks, course materials, modules, faculty-created content, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. Unlike traditionally copyrighted material, these resources are available for "open" use, which means users can edit, modify, and share resources freely.

Why use OER?

Between 2008 and 2016 the cost of college textbooks has risen 88% (Bureau of Labor Statistics), and the College Board estimates that full-time students in 2-year colleges will spend as much as $1,420 per year (2017-18) on textbooks. Struggling students and their families are increasingly forced to make hard choices about whether to purchase required course materials that they cannot afford or attempt to pass their courses without them. Though students are the ones that have to pay for course textbooks, they may have very little ability to influence the textbook market. Only faculty members have the power to determine the amount of money students will have to spend on their course materials. Interested in replacing your expensive textbooks with an OER but don't know how to get started? This guide can help!

"The 5 Rs"

Within the bounds of Creative Commons licensing there are 5 key points to consider when using OERs:

  1. Reuse - Content can be reused in its unaltered original format - the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  2. Retain - Copies of content can be retained for personal archives or reference - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  3. Revise - Content can be modified or altered to suit specific needs - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix - Content can be adapted with other similar content to create something new- the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute - Content can be shared with anyone else in its original or altered format - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

OERs include a wide range of materials: assessments, assignments, books, case studies, courses, journals, primary sources, reference materials, simulations, tutorials, tests, and textbooks. This material is based on original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at

Student and Faculty Testimonials

"Why Open Education?" Video

Why Open Education  by David Blake is licensed under CC BY 3.0.