Skip to Main Content

Open Education Resources: Introduction

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that are freely and openly available. They can be text documents, audio, video, multimedia, tests, software, learning objects or any other tool used for learning and teaching. The key is that they can be widely distributed and adapted with clear reuse terms, often under a Creative Commons license. At the University of Alberta, we anchor our definition of open to David Wiley's 5 Rs: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, and Redistribute.1

1 David Wiley, “Defining the ‘Open’ in Open Content and Open Educational Resources,” published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

The 5 R's of Openness

The 5R framework was proposed by David Wiley. These five aspects are the main characteristics of 'open' content.

Retain: The right to make, own, and control copies of the content.  

Reuse: The right to use the content in a range of ways, such as in a class or study group, on a website, or in a video. 

Revise: The right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content (such as translate the content or update an edition).

Remix: The right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create new content (such as incorporate content into a mashup). 

Redistribute: The right to share copies of the original content, a revised version, or a remix with others (such as share a copy with a friend or class). 

CC Attribution 4.0 license by David Wiley at:

Faculty & Instructor Benefits

  • Increases student retention by reducing costs and barriers to succeed
  • Assures academic freedom to modify or add content to your specifications
  • Extends one's academic profile
  • Provides more relevant and engaging materials for your students even after they graduate
  • OER allow you to customize and adapt to your context, providing a richer teaching and learning opportunity.

Student Benefits

  • Low cost or free educational resources
  • Find and access, even before classes start and after classes end
  • More customized and relevant
  • OER are affordable for students, making education more accessible.
  • Students can benefit from multiple learning styles because OER can incorporate various content formats (text, audio, video or multimedia) and interactive elements.
  • Remote and continued access since most OER are digital, do not require an access code and do not expire.
  • OER are fully accessible for all students 

Request help finding an OER

  OER Postcard (Three Reasons) by Claire Coulter, Scott Cowen, and Emma Gooch (eCampus Ontario)

  OER Postcard (Top 10 Myths) by Jenni Hayman, Olga Perkovic, and Nada Savicevic (eCampus Ontario)

Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0.