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University of Newcastle Library Guides

Open Educational Resources: Introduction

A guide to Open Educational Resources (OER) - discover, adopt, adapt, or author free shareable educational content.

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What's in this guide?

This guide contains key resources for engaging with, discovering and practising the use of Open Educational Resources, or OER.  Once you have learned how to find and access OER, there are three different levels of use:

  • Adopt OER - find and use an open textbook with no changes
  • Adapt OER - find and use an open textbook after tailoring it to your topic or context
  • Author OER - write your own open textbook to share with others, either as a solo author or collaborating with someone else

You can also find out more about relevant licences and copyright, and look at our Frequently Asked Questions for more detailed information. The guide also contains an index and a glossary of terms.

What are OER and Open Textbooks?

Open Educational Resources are defined by UNESCO as

“… 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....”

Open Textbooks are textbooks that are freely available to students and teaching staff and are licensed for reuse and adaptation, so they can be adjusted to suit the needs of a specific cohort or course. Open Textbooks can benefit staff and students by supporting enhanced engagement, participation rates, and retention. 

Why use Open Educational Resources?

Different types of OER

OER can take many forms: ​

  • digital learning objects like infographics and images, videos and quizzes, ​

  • books and chapters, ​

  • guides and tutorial materials.​

You don’t even have to be an academic or researcher – professional staff have also produced OER such as orientation guides for students.​

Help us to improve this guide

Is there anything more you would like us to include in this guide?  Let us know by going to our Feedback page and we will do our very best to add the resources you want.