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Open Educational Resources Guide


The Open Education movement is an international effort to tear down boundaries to educational resources. Open educational resources (OER) are openly-licensed text, media, or other digital assets used for teaching, learning, and research. OER are typically free for users to use, modify, or distribute. Increasingly provincial or federal funding has facilitated the creation of supportive infrastructure for the creation of OER, and there are a number of non-profit platforms that host OER. This guide is intended to help instructors find OER alternatives for the subjects they teach. This list is by no means exhaustive but should serve as a starting point for those curious about incorporating OER into their classes.

Getting Started

Where to find OER

There are a number of collections of open textbooks and other resources that can be adopted and adapted to use in your course.

The resources listed below are just a small sample of the many platforms hosting openly-licensed content, many, many others exist! If you are unable to find openly licensed resources that meet your needs, please reach out for support.


  • ECampusOntario Open Textbook Library - collection of 180 open textbooks and resources, many of which have been reviewed and vetted by educators
  • Open Textbook Library (University of Minnesota) - a large collection of openly-licensed, peer-reviewed textbooks in all subject areas
  • OpenStax (Rice University) - peer-reviewed open textbooks in science, math, business, and the social sciences
  • LibreTexts (UC Davis) - open textbooks built by faculty, students, and outside experts
  • Directory of Open Access Books - aggregator of open access books in a wide reange of subject areas

Science and Engineering

  • Biointeractive (Howard Hughes Medical Institute): resources (activities, case students, media) that focus on core concepts and processes in biology, with interdisciplinary resources that connect to environmental science, chemistry, and math and statistics.
  • ChemCollective (Carnegie Mellon): virtual labs, scenario-based learning activities, tutorials, and concept tests.
  • Science Forward (Macaulay Honors College): videos, activities, data sets, and lessons that focus on building critical thinking across the scientific disciplines.
  • OpenCourseware (TU Delft): courseware in Engineering and Applied Sciences that include lectures, exercises, readings, and other materials.
  • EngineerTech: simulations on various topics in engineering technology.

Business and Economics

  • LearningEdge Cases (MIT): case studies touching on areas such as strategy, sustainability, operations management and more.

Social Sciences and Humanities

OER Collections/Repositories

Versluis, Ali. β€œOpen Educational Resources.” University of Guelph Library, 2020,


The 5 Rs

OERs are "free", but not in the way we typically mean when we use that word. Open Scholarship isn't just about lowering boundaries to education via access but also about making that material reusable by others. In this way, OERs are "free as in speech, not as in food." Depending on the license attached to an OER, it can be free to copy, modify, print, distribute... etc. These are the characteristics behind the "5 Rs".

  • 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)

David Wiley, CC, March 2014,

Copyright and Licenses

Generally speaking, OER carry varying levels of Creative Commons licenses. The most common among these is CC By 4.0, which is a general use attribution license. The second most common is CC0, which isn't so much a license as it is a public domain declaration. OER resources will explicitly state the license type to help you understand usage rights. They are designed specifically to be shared, modified, and distributed, so many of the concerns related to classroom distribution are streamlined. Nevertheless, copyright can be an intimidating subject. Here are some resources for assisting with copyright in OER and in general.

If you need any assistance or have any questions, please contact


OER are very much an emerging priority in the Atlantic region. Some institutions have begun to provide some provisional support for software clients like Pressbooks or OpenStax. There are also regional efforts afoot to develop an open textbooks repository. However, UNB Libraries has no current defined service in this space. If you are interested in creating an open textbook or open educational resource, please contact Scholarly Communications and Publishing Librarian, Mike Nason, to start a discussion about how we can help you get started.

For more general information about what is involved in making your own OER, please see the BC Campus publishing guides.

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Subject Specialties:
open access, digital publishing/scholarship, scholarly profiles, research data management