There are many definitions for OER, but we have settled on:

Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property licence that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. (Hewlett Foundation, OER Defined).

OER Guide

Understanding OER


Note the emphasis is ours, as we feel strongly that OER should:

  • be free
  • not require permission to use
  • allow new users to adapt and find new ways to use resources

If used correctly, OER can make a significant contribution to advancing the principles of open learning (although many people in the OER community make the mistake of assuming that OER and open learning or ‘open education’ are similar concepts). Open learning is an approach to all education that enables as many people as possible to take advantage of affordable and meaningful educational opportunities throughout their lives through: sharing expertise, knowledge, and resources; reducing barriers and increasing access; and acknowledging diversity of context. OER can play a significant role in bringing this idea to life. In African higher education, this is a compelling reason to engage with OER.

Want to know more about OER?

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