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Open Educational Resources (OERs): Introduction

A guide to using freely available online resources, including Open Educational Resources (OERs) for teaching and learning.



Open Educational Resources (OERs) are flexible, free resources for teaching that can be used in any context and altered to meet your exact needs. From open textbooks to video content to complete courses, OERs can make your teaching easier, improve access to information for your students, and provide more varied, interesting learning experiences.

The only catch is that sometimes there is not a suitable resource for your area of teaching. In that case, you may instead need to rely on freely available resources such as YouTube, or library-provided resources such as LinkedIn Learning. These tools likewise have no monetary cost for you or your students, but come with some additional constraints that need to be considered.

This guide will walk you through great places to help find these resources, give you hints on how to evaluate and curate your own resource collection, and explain the principles underpinning each of them so you know exactly how and where you can use each of them.


The short version

  • Open Educational Resources: Free, completely customisable and usable anywhere.

    • Examples: Open Textbook Initiative, OERu

  • Freely Available Resources: Resources available online without cost to you or your students.

    • Examples: YouTube, Khan Academy

  • Library Provided Resources: Paid for by UTS Library, customisable but only available to UTS staff and students.

    • Examples: LinkedIn Learning, EduTV.

What resources are out there?


When it comes to designing teaching and learning experiences, both online and in-person, many resources are available on the internet that may be freely and legally used. Some of these are what are called Open Educational Resources, which allow for any use and any alteration. Others are somewhat more restrictive, preventing certain types of use or alteration, yet these can still be very useful. We have divided these resources into three categories:

  • Open Educational Resources (OERs) refer to any online resources that meet the standards of the Five Rs: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, and Redistribute. Examples of this would include PhET Interactive Simulations, OpenStax Textbooks or Wikipedia.

  • Freely available resources are any online resource that can be viewed or otherwise used for no monetary cost, but which may be monetised in other fashions (e.g. they may host advertising). These resources are usually not able to be freely altered or uploaded to new locations but may be useful resources nonetheless. An example of this might be educational YouTube videos.

  • Library provided resources are not free but can be freely used by UTS staff and students because the library has already paid the required fees for their use. They can usually be embedded in UTS Online or other learning platforms, but their licensing terms may preclude some uses. Examples might be Henry Stewart Talks, EduTV or Kanopy.