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Open Educational Resources

Defining OER

What is OER?

Open Educational Resources are 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. [1]

Why use OER?

According to SPARC:

  • Textbook costs should not be a barrier to education. 
  • Students learn more when they have access to quality materials.
  • Technology holds boundless potential to improve teaching and learning. 
  • Better education means a better future. [2]

How do I know if a resource is an OER?

The key distinguishing characteristic of OER is its intellectual property license and the freedoms the license grants to others to share and adapt it. If a lesson plan or activity is not clearly tagged or marked as being in the public domain or having an open license, it is not OER.[2]

[1] Definition from the Hewlett Foundation - CC License
[2] Adapted from SPARC Open Education - CC License

Toolkits, Tutorials, etc.

Library Help

What the Library Can Do

  • Help faculty identify existing OER materials, including alternatives to textbooks
  • Make suggestions on where to search for OER
  • Give options for ways that students can access resources
  • Advise on use of Creative Commons licenses

What the Library Cannot Do

  • Be completely knowledgeable of your subject area
  • Make the final call on the quality of a resource
  • Choose your textbook or course material
  • Interfere with your academic freedom


Adapted from "OER Toolkit: Curating" by The Learning Portal College Libraries Ontario and is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

About this Guide

This LibGuide was created by Angela Davis, Pitt Community College and adapted for use by Paula Hopper, Director BCCC Library.  

Creative Commons License
Unless otherwise noted, OER: Open Educational Resources by Pitt Community College Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.