Skip to Main Content

Open Educational Resources (OERs): Home

This guide is designed to help Minnesota State University Moorhead faculty find, create, evaluate, and incorporate Open Educational Resources and Affordable Textbooks in the classroom and online.

Open Education

Education is essential to advancing society. It’s how we pass down the wealth of human knowledge and equip the next generation of leaders, innovators and productive members of society. Our educational systems are built to provide every person the opportunity to build a better life—by turning children into citizens, learners into teachers, laborers into skilled workers.

Expanding educational opportunities is more possible now than it has ever been before. Through the Internet, learners can find information instantly on virtually any topic, teachers can share their knowledge with students on another continent almost as easily as in their own classroom, and educational materials can be disseminated to a worldwide audience at virtually no marginal cost.

However, our systems for sharing information in education have not caught up with the potential of 21st century technology. Instead, the educational materials market is held captive by legacy publishing models that actively restrict the dissemination and innovative use of resources in a world that craves educational opportunities.

Textbook prices have continued to rise rapidly, leaving too many students without access to their required materials. Digital offerings from traditional publishers come laced with access restrictions and expiration dates with little savings in return, and print editions are too often out of date by the time they hit the shelves.

For too long, our educational systems have operated with a fundamental disconnect between practices left over from the analog world, and the vast potential of technology and the Internet to support more affordable, effective teaching and learning. The movement for Open Education seeks to close this gap.

Open Education encompasses resources, tools and practices that are free of legal, financial and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared and adapted in the digital environment.

Source: "Open Education" by SPARC, CC BY 4.0


If you would like assistance locating an OER or have any questions, please contact

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are teaching, learning, and research resources that are free of cost and access barriers, and which also carry legal permission for open use.

Open Educational Resources are:

  • Works found in the Public Domain
  • Works that include a license (such as a Creative Commons License*) that allows users the freedom to Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, or Redistribute (see David Wiley’s definitions below on the 5Rs). 
    *Some exceptions apply - See our page on Creative Commons Licenses

Open Educational Resources can take on many forms from textbooks, course packets, games, supplemental or ancillary materials - anything that is used to support access to knowledge or materials used for educational purposes.  

The 5Rs

The 5R Permissions as defined by Dr. David Wiley are:

  1. Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse - 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)
  3. Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix - 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 - 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)

Source: This material was created by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

More information about Open Educational Resources

The Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, is heavily invested in the provision of OERs. See what they have to say here.


Material on this page courtesy of Minnesota State University, Mankato