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CSU ePress: Information Guide: Open Educational Resources

OER Defined

Open Educational Resources or OER are educational materials that are shared at no cost so that the public can freely use, share, and build upon content to better serve all students. OER come in all shapes and sizes.  For example, a sheet of paper containing course content could be considered OER.  Likewise, entire courses can be included under the OER umbrella.  Open Textbooks are usually collections of OER materials. 

In Georgia, university faculty may apply for Affordable Material Grants through the Affordable Learning Georgia initiative.  The purpose of these grants is to provide no cost and low cost course materials to students throughout the University System of Georgia.

In February, 2021, several CSU faculty presented an informational session about the Affordable Materials Grants to their colleagues at CSU.  The recording of the presentation is accessible to the public.


5 Rs in OER

Retain – Permission to make, own, and control copies of the content;

Reuse – Content can be reused in its unaltered original format;

Revise – Content can be modified or altered to suit specific needs - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself;

Remix – Content can be adapted with other similar content to create something new;

Redistribute – Content can be shared with anyone else in its original or altered format.


Attributions for the content about Open Access and Open Educational Resources are available on this guide.

Why OER are Important to Faculty and Students

OER provide the faculty at CSU with permissions and the resulting tools to create freely available resources that make education more affordable.

OER also allow for equity and innovation as faculty maximize access to effective educational resources for all students through open licensing and technological advances.

OER provide CSU students with affordable educational resources for their classes that are freely available even after graduation to support lifelong learning.

Relationship Between OER and OA

You may have heard of Open Access (OA).  

OER and OA are closely related.  Both use open licenses (such as Creative Commons) that make OA and OER freely available online.  Likewise, OER and OA are both used in educational settings:

  • OER refer to teaching and learning materials that are made freely available for the public to use, share, and build upon the content to better serve all students.  These materials are different from "free to students and faculty" library resources that are heavily licensed and do not provide access after graduation.  OER are available after graduation for lifelong learning;
  • OA supports faculty and students by providing them with free, online access to up-to-date research;

  • OA allows for university mandates that specify how the institution can support researchers in making their work openly available;

  • OA also promotes public policies that endorse publicly funded research that is made freely available online;

The scopes of OER and OA is different, however.  OER are for use in the teaching/learning setting of both K-12 and the university and include the use of educational resources, such as textbooks. OA generally deals with academic publishing.  It allows for authors to publish in peer-reviewed journals or self-archive in repositories.  However, it is important to note that OA resources can be used in the educational setting after being published in journals or repositories.

Books on the Librarian's Shelf about OER

Creative Commons License