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Open Educational Resources (OER) in Teaching and Learning

Discover open educational resources (OER) for instructors seeking to make their courses more affordable, accessible, and flexible.

Have questions about OER at Duke?

If you're looking to find and adapt OER for your course or would like to know more about making your courses accessible, affordable, and flexible, contact Haley Walton, Librarian for Education and Open Scholarship, at the Duke University Libraries.

OERWhat are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

OER include textbooks, topic-specific learning tools for coursework, syllabi and lesson plans, videos, assignments, tests, and even whole courses created by other instructors and shared openly for others to modify and reuse in their own teaching.

They are published under open licenses that describe how materials can be used, reused, adapted, and shared in your own courses.

What are the benefits of using OER in my teaching?

Benefits for instructors:
  • OER are fully developed by others and do not require you to build your own lesson materials from scratch. Saves time in building lessons, exams, and classwork.
  • OER are openly licensed to be modified, remixed, and reused in your classroom without paying or requiring copyright permission.
  • OER can be easily linked to or added to Sakai without requesting permission to duplicate them.
Benefits for students:
  • OER do not have a cost. Students do not have to pay prohibitive prices for textbooks.
  • Anyone with an internet connection can access the materials without paywalls, so access for students off campus is less problematic (does not require VPN or sign-in).
  • Students can preserve access to class materials after the course ends. No rented textbooks to return or sell.

The 5 Rs of OER

When using OER under an open license for your own purposes, there are five aspects of use that make it so flexible. They are the Five Rs.

  1. Retain - the ability make, own, and control a copy of the resource (such as downloading and keeping your own copy).
  2. Revise - the ability to make edits to, adapt for your own use, and otherwise modify your copy of the resource (like changing a worksheet for your lesson).
  3. Remix - combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new (like a mashup video or your own course pack of readings modified and combined for your course).
  4. Reuse - share your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (such as on a website, in a presentation, in a class).
  5. Redistribute - share copies of the resource you have created or modified with others (posting it online or handing it out to your class).

This material is an adaptation of Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources, which was originally written by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at