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Towards a definition of OER

Page history last edited by David Porter 12 years, 9 months ago

This section describes the role that Creative Commons plays in providing a legal framework for creators of content to specify conditions under which their work can be used, reused, revised or redistributed. 


A definition of open educational resources has been proposed by the WIlliam and Flora Hewlett Foundation:


OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.




The "4Rs of openness"

With increasing digitization, more and more educational resources can be made available for self-study, as the MIT OpenCourseware initiative has demonstrated. But, not only are educators interested in using and reusing exemplary curriculum materials, many are also interested in remixing and redistributing curriculum materials created for one educational context in another, or in another language.


David Wiley has proposed a framework for thinking about reuse that he calls the 4Rs of openness. Its core principles are:





  • The right to reuse the content in its unaltered verbatim form 
  • The right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself
  • The right to combine the original or revised content with other content to create something new
  • The right to make and share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others


These four principles can be put into practice through the licensing provisions of Creative Commons.


Creative Commons

With Creative Commons (CC), creators of original works can allow their work to be reused under specified conditions. The licenses can have any of the four conditions applied.




Activity: Explore Creative Commons licenses

The 4 conditions of reuse specified by the Creative Commons framework allow the use of 6 different licenses.  


Explore the CC licenses --> http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses/


Explore the Creative Commons license generator to understand how to apply licenses to your own work.


Make sure to check whether there is a CC license that fits the legal system in your country.



Wiley, D. (2009). Definining "open." Available: http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/1123 




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