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Open Education Resources (OER) for Faculty: What are OER?

This guide explores the world of Open Educational Resources (OER) available freely online for course use.

What are OER?

OER stands for Open Educational Resources, which are course materials that can be shared and used freely or at little cost. OER can include textbooks, course readings and activities, lectures, presentations, syllabi, and more. The umbrella for OER is wide, and many of these items can be adapted and customized to fit your course. 

The Open Education movement is built around the 5Rs of Open [2]

  • Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
  • 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)
  • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • 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)

FAQs for OERs

Why consider adopting OERs?

Textbooks and learning materials cost students approximately $1,100 per year.  According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 7 in 10 students didn’t purchase a textbook because it was too expensive.  Through OERs the cost of student materials can be drastically reduced.  OERs also give instructors the ability to customize the materials, creating the “perfect” textbook instead of being bound to traditional print resources.

How can you tell if a resource is an OER?

The most common method of publishing OERs with a Creative Commons (CC) license. These items will include a CC logo (see below). There are different permissions granted with different CC licenses, so be sure to make note of what the license on your particular OER allows for. If you have any questions, please see a Trinity librarian for assistance.  


Where can I find OERs for my course?

OERs are available in a variety of places online. Please see the Finding OERs tab of this guide for more specific information. If you'd like more assistance finding an OER for your course, contact the library at trinitylibrary[at]

Will my chosen OER always be accessible?

Because OERs are often decentralized, if a website changes or a repository no longer supports the material, it is possible to lose access to an OER. By downloading and/or printing the OER, though, you can ensure your ability to access the material at any time.

How do I give my students access to the OER?

Oftentimes OER are simple documents such as Word or PDF, which you can simply upload in Moodle the way you would upload other course content. If you have any questions about uploading materials to Moodle, contact Katie Wanschura, Trinity's Director of Instructional technology at wanschurak[at]

I need help selecting an OER to use in place of an expensive textbook. Is there anyone who can help?

The library would love to assist with OER course selection materials! If you need any guidance, please reach out to us at trinitylibrary[at]

Research & Instruction Librarian

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Bridgette Comanda
Sr. Helen Sheehan Library
Trinity Washington University
125 Michigan Ave NE
Washington, DC 20017
(202) 884-9352


This guide delves into the topic of Open Educational Resources (OER)- what they are, identifying them, and using them. If you have any questions about the content in this guide, please reach out to the librarian at trinitylibrary[at]