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OER Toolkit

Introduction to OER

The library is partnering with the academic community to:

  • embed creative commons licensed materials written for curriculum or educational activities.
  • explore a sustainable approach to learning resources.

The Pressbook platform is available to academics who wish to publish academic content under an open (Creative Commons) licence. Like traditional course materials, academics from across the world are using open textbooks to contribute to success outcomes for students through equitable access and cost savings.

Search for all Open Access resources from the Library catalogue. You can then filter your results by available 'Open Access' resources. Check the Creative Commons (CC) licence for details of how the content can be used.

How do I start?

Review the following steps and instructions for use of OER.
  1. Familiarise yourself with the OER Toolkit.

  2. Know the definition of OERWhat they are, and what they are not.

  3. Review the benefits of using OER.

  4. Familiarise yourself with Open Licensing and Attribution, and Best Practices in Fair Use of OER. Should it be required, see the Record of Permissions form to help track permissions to use Third Party Copyright content.

  5. For staff wishing to adopt/adapt OER content, this concise OER Evaluation Checklist can be used to evaluate the OER material for its intended purpose.

  6. See instructions for Library deposit in the OER Toolkit.

  7. Review the Library FAQs on the topic of OER.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium - digital or otherwise - that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open licence, such as a Creative Commons Licence, or GNU General Public Licence, that permits no-cost access, use [a.k.a. adoption], adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.

Attribution: Definition of Open Educational Resources (OER) is a derivative of "Open Educational Resources" by UNESCO licensed under CC BY.

  • Open Education Resources (OER) are designed to make education more inclusive, opening up opportunities to those who otherwise couldn’t afford it by alleviating the high cost of course materials.
  • OER are educational materials that have been licensed for free use and adaptation under a Creative Commons licence or which do not have copyright restrictions (e.g. are in the public domain).
  • OER include a wide range of resources such as textbooks, teaching and learning materials, images, videos, games, lesson plans, worksheets and assessments.

Course Material

Open Textbooks


Lesson Plans



Attribution: Images are a derivative of the "BCOER Poster" by BCcampus licensed under CC BY 4.0

Below are four key categories of resources that are often considered to fall outside the definition of what is truly OER. Of course, the best mix of materials to meet any given set of learning outcomes will vary, and may include a combination of OER and the materials listed below. The key is knowing which resources will best meet your objectives for instruction, and for learners.

Through open licensing, the mission of the OER movement is to encourage the full range of the “5 Rs” permissions of use (see prior tab). Some argue that unless an open licence allows for adaptations, then the resource is not truly OER.

The image below positions Creative Commons Licenses on a spectrum from more to less open. As depicted, resources that are licensed ND (No Derivatives), are in some cases considered not to be OER.

The six creative image. Description: Six Creative Commons Licenses on a spectrum from more to less open.  From top to bottom, the most open to not open: 1. CC BY, 2. CC BY SA, 3. CC BY NC, 4. CC BY NC SA, 5. BB BY ND (not open), 6. CC BY NC ND

Attribution: The Six Creative Commons Licences image is a derivative of an image in Keynote Slides (November 2014) by Cable Green licensed under CC BY 4.0.

All the available resources on the web that you may have access to, but that are not in the public domain, or do not carry a Creative Commons licence or other open licence, are not OER.

A library’s subscription-based resources (journals, videos, and other materials), while accessible to students and academics, are also not OER. This is because their use in education may be limited by licence agreements.

Open vs. Free Resources

Resources Student Cost Permissions/Licencing
Open Educational Resources Free Open
Library Resources Free Restrictive

Attribution: Image and text are a derivative of CCCOER Finding and Adopting OER by Open Education Global licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Open access is an important concept, which is related to – but distinct from – that of OER. Open access typically refers to research publications of some kind released under an open licence that allows for their free access and use (definition from Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources, 2015).

Open access publications do not usually allow for adaptation and remixing. While open access articles are freely accessible, authors may retain their copyright and/or assign rights to publishers or users, so permission may be needed for copying and adaptation.

More information about Open Access:

© Western Sydney University, unless otherwise attributed.
Library guide created by Western Sydney University Library staff is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY)