What is OER?

The term Open Educational Resources refers to the idea of having educational materials that are accessible free of charge. Everyone is authorized to use, edit and redistribute those materials without (or with small) limitations. In doing so, the individual resource is provided with an open license (CC-License). The allocation of a certain material to the realm of OER is thus taking place, regardless of the media form (digital vs. analog). In their "Paris Declaration" of June 2012, the UNESCO defines OER the following:

"teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions."

OER in schools especially includes school books and corresponding workbooks, copy templates, illustrative material as well as video, audio or learning cards, provided with CC-licenses. OER might also include didactic specialized information like reference books and scientific articles, if they are licensed appropriately.

For universities, scientific results in the form of articles or monographs can often be found as OER. By now, universities (of applied sciences) provide an increasing number of educational resources equipped with CC-licenses. These materials have often been created in individual seminars and as part of student projects (see e.g. Wikiversity).

In addition to materials created explicitly for educational uses, resources that are usable regardless of educational contexts, can also be viewed as OER. This wider understanding of OER includes all learning resources that can be utilized in educational situations. Open software (e.g. LibreOffice) and open online services (e.g. Open StreetMap) are exemplary resources for this wider understanding of OER.