Research Guides

Open Educational Resources

Defining OER

An Overview of OER 

Open Educational Resources (OER) are "free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes.” They are part of a wider movement to provide alternatives to the restrictions of traditional publishing models.

Many types of educational content fall can fall under this category, but the two key components are: 

Free, meaning simply that materials that are free of charge. There are no associated costs with the item for the user, and institutions do not pay a subscriber's fee for access. 

Open, as in "openly licensed." When something is openly licensed, it means that the creator allows others to use and share their work, and potentially modify the content. Under traditional copyright, this type of sharing would not be permitted. Creative Commons Licenses are a way to extend more rights to users, in a sense "opening" the resource to others. See more about this topic in the following tab.

Open Educational Resources at The Graduate Center

The Mina Rees Library is home to the Open Knowledge Fellowship (formerly the Open Pedagogy Fellowship), generously supported by state funding administered through the Office of Library Services (OLS). Featured to the left is an open resource guide created by former Fellows, about contemporary and archival topics relating to police violence, feminist care narratives, and more - Towards a Critically Open Future (2022).

The Open Knowledge Fellowship functions as a site of critical inquiry into topics relating to Open Educational Resources, Open Access, Open Data, and other movements away from the commercial publishing landscape. In 2020, the Mina Rees Library held a virtual Symposium - Towards an Open Future, featuring keynote speakers Audrey Watters and Walis Johnson, to further delve into the complex tensions between educational technology, data privacy, and the labor costs of "cost-free" resources. Weaving together aspects of critical pedagogy and a decolonial approach to education more broadly, we seek to ask - how is knowledge created, and for whom?


Background readings

Below are a few articles that help to explain the concepts of Open Educational Resources. Also see the Further Reading section of this guide for more options. 

Explore OER

OER and OA Resources for Women's & Gender Studies - A helpful guide provided by ACRL, with lists of open access (OA) feminist journals, and course modules.

Leveraging OER for Queer Students - A blog post from the Community College Consortium for OER, 2019

OER and Critical Pedagogy: A Collaboration with Incomplete Artifacts - A reflective essay from a participant in the Mina Rees Library's 2022 Open Knowledge Fellowship

Open to What? A Critical Evaluation of OER Efficacy Studies - An essay by librarian Ian McDermott about OER assessment.

Open Pedagogy Notebook - A good starting place for exploring the educational uses of OER.

OER: 5 Common Myths

OER Mythbusting:  The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) provides context for some common myths surrounding OER.

  • Myth # 1: Open simply means free. 
  • Myth # 2: All OER are digital. 
  • Myth # 3: “You get what you pay for.”
  • Myth # 4:  Copyright for OER is complicated.
  • Myth # 5: OER are not sustainable.

Read the full text of SPARC's OER Mythbusting guide, here.