This video talks about what can happen when teachers and students share their work as Open Educational Resources (OER) for others to use, revise and remix for their own teaching and learning purposes, without cost. Not only can more people benefit from what we've created if we share it openly, but public knowledge can be better advanced by others having access to and the ability to add to and improve what we've done.

This guide provides information on how to create OER and post them so that they can easily be found and reused by others.


What are OER?

OER logo, Wikimedia Deutschland, licensed CC BY-SA 4.0 on Wikimedia Commons

According to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Open Educational Resources 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 and 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."

Thus, OER are any teaching and learning materials that are made available to others to use without cost, and with an open license that allows them to reuse, revise and redistribute them. They can be anything from syllabi, lecture notes, presentation slides, videos, podcasts, assigned readings, instructions for doing various kinds of assignments, and more. Many OER are resources that instructors are already using for their courses that they make available for others to revise and reuse. Sometimes students create OER as part of their work in courses.

Licensing for reuse

Just making teaching and learning materials available publicly for free is not enough to make them "open," though; even if you post something on a public website, copyright law does not allow others to just download and reuse it without your permission.

An easy way to give permission in advance, though, is to give your materials and open license. An open license tells others what they may do with the resource you've created, such as downloading it, reposting it elsewhere, revising it, putting it together with something else to make a remix, and more.

There are many kinds of open licenses, but the licenses from Creative Commons are often used in education. We've put together a separate guide to help you learn what open licenses are and how to use them. Please see the Guide to Open Licensing for Instructors .

What resources might one turn into OER?

Considering format for reusability

Just making materials available for free and giving them an open license doesn't mean they are maximally usable. Sometimes the format in which the materials are found can make editing and reusing them difficult.

David Wiley suggests using the ALMS framework for ensuring that OER meet the 5 "R's" of open: ability to reuse, revise, remix, retain, and redistribute.

  1. Access to editing tools: Is the material in a format that requires expensive or difficult to find tools to edit it? Or is it editable by using software that is accessible to many, in terms of cost and availability? If the materials require that you edit them with an obscure or discontinued tool, then that is a problem for accessibility.
  2. Level of expertise required: Does editing the material using the software needed to do so require a great deal of technical expertise, or is it fairly easy to learn how to do? As an example, material in a word-processing format that is widely used requires less technical expertise than materials that are posted in Github and require coding knowledge to edit.
  3. Meaningfully editable: Some formats are very hard or impossible to revise or remix; Wiley gives the example of images of handwritten text documents. PDFs are also not easy for everyone to edit without paying for expensive software, though free PDF readers are providing more and more editing capabilities as the years go by. Text files are usually quite easy to edit, revise, remix. Another example can be considered with audio files--finished mp3s may be harder to edit than audio source files that split out different tracks (such as can be done with a free program called Audacity).
  4. Self-sourced: Wiley explains, "Is the format preferred for consuming the open content the same format preferred for revising or remixing the open content (e.g., HTML)?" If the formats are different, this also makes the material less accessible for revision and remixing.


It is also important to consider accessibility of OER--making them as accessible as possible to people with diverse abilities. There are different accessibility considerations depending on whether the resource is text, video, audio, or a web page. Open UBC has put adapted an excellent Accessibility Toolkit for authors of open educational resources that is also useful for those creating other kinds of OER. See the "Best Practices" sectionfor suggestions for text, images, formulas, colours, and more:

DIY multimedia

UBC has an excellent resource for creating multimedia educational resources, such as podcasts or other audio, screencasts or other video, animations, annotated presentations, and more. See the DIY Media site.

There you will find information on best practices for creating media, hardware and software available to use or borrow, spaces to book for recording, and information about what support is available. There is also a section with an extensive list of research about using audiovisual media for teaching and learning.

Where to put the OER you've created

Once you have created some Open Educational Resources and licensed them as you wish, you may wonder: where do I put them so others may find and use them? There are several options:

Having students publish their work

On a public course website hosted by UBC

Many instructors at UBC use course websites that are not publicly viewable, but you can also set up a public course website using WordPress at UBC--you can, for example, use UBC Blogs to create course websites. Student-created blog posts, images, essays and presentations are easily posted on such a course website.

Asking students to post work on websites not hosted in Canada

If students create videos or presentation slides that you and they would like to make into OER, you might be wondering about asking them to post their work to sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Slideshare, or similar sites. It is important to be aware of and comply with BC FIPPA regulations (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) about identifying information for students being stored outside of Canada.

Of course students may choose to use applications or tools that are hosted outside of the country - they just cannot be required to use use their personal accounts to meet the academic requirements of the course. Many tools and platforms, however have options for users to remain anonymous by the use of an alias. The Commissioner’s office has indicated that if use of the tool is required for a course, students must be given an option to use an alias.

According to this fact sheet from the University Counsel office on disclosing personal information outside of Canada, at UBC, Cloud-based tools may be used under the following conditions:

You may also choose to link to resources for students that can help them make an informed decision about their digital presence.

Edit-copy purple.svg


In this course, students will be using (specify tool or platform), which is (specify what the tool is). This tool will help us (specify how students will be using the tool). During the account creation process, you will be required to provide your name and other identifying information. This tool is hosted on servers in (specify where). By using this service, you are consenting to storage of your information in (the location). If you choose not to provide your consent, see the instructor for alternate arrangements.

Resources for Students The Digital Tattoo project highlights resources developed by students to help their peers make decisions about their online participation and identity formation:

See this page on Student Privacy and Consent for more information on student privacy and storing of identifying information outside of Canada.

Other good practices for publishing student work

Copyright Considerations

The follow series of of five videos that deal with copyright issues in Open Educational Resource Repositories. For additional copyright and permissions questions, please contact the contact the Scholarly Communications & Copyright Office or attend a workshops.


Syllabi and other assignments posted on public course websites

Openly licensed instructional videos for courses

Student work posted publicly (some with an open license, some not)