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Open Educational Resources Collective Publishing Workflow

Get Familiar with OER and Other Key Concepts

What is an Open Educational Resource (OER)?

Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials that are published under Creative Common licences. These licences specify how content can be used. OERs can include textbooks (called ‘open textbooks’), curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and software.

What is an Open Textbook?

An open textbook is an educational resource that is licensed to allow copying, re-distribution, and derivative works, and contains materials that contribute to a course (ie subject/unit) or program of study or co-curricular activities.

Textbooks on the OER Collective platform are generally assigned for use in a tertiary course (university or vocational education and training (VET)), however, institutions may also choose to use their allocated book shells for high school textbooks if desired. Textbooks may be collaboratively created with students and other institutions.

The OER Collective supports innovation and flexibility in terms of DIY member institution open access publishing projects. It is recognised that outputs may not always take the form of a traditional textbook but instead may include content and interactive objects in various formats.

Open textbook projects that are eligible for CAUL OER Collective DIY Author Grants must be associated with a tertiary course/s, program of study or co-curricular activities. Textbooks that are not for use in a university or VET context are not eligible for the grant program.

Why Use OER?

Some good reasons to consider incorporating OER into your teaching practice are:

  • affordability – every student begins the semester with free access to the same learning materials
  • access and accessibility – students have permanent free access to resources in multiple formats (for an example, select ‘Download this book’ on this resource to see the different formats available)
  • equity – OER can help improve grades, particularly for students from low socio-economic and ethnically diverse backgrounds
  • retention – students using open textbooks are more likely to complete than those using commercial texts
  • deeper learning – OER enable teachers to customise their curriculum, creating deeper engagement for students
  • diversity – OERs can reflect diversity in student populations by including gender neutral language, culturally diverse names and first nations representation and recognition.

What Impact do OER Have on Education? 

Numerous studies have been conducted on instructors’ implementations, misunderstandings, acceptance and evaluation of OER. The Review Project collects empirical studies on the impact of OER adoption, where OER were used as replacements for traditional textbooks. The authors conclude that adopting OER provides ‘the permissions necessary for faculty to engage in a wide range of pedagogical innovations’ (Open Education Group, n.d.).

Getting Started with OER

Below are some ideas for how you can engage with OER and the open community.

  1. Understand the Language of OER

Some of the terms you might hear associated with copyright and OER are:

  • open – free to read, share, adapt or modify
  • free-to-read – free to access but not necessarily to share, adapt or modify
  • fair use (United States) – permits limited use of material for educational purposes. (Australians are bound by educational provisions outlined in the Copyright Act 1968.)
  • Creative Commons (CC) – standardised licences allowing reusing, remixing and sharing without infringing copyright (Creative Commons Australia, n.d.)
  • public domain – publicly available because the intellectual property rights have expired or been forfeited
  • all rights reserved – the copyright holder reserves all rights provided by copyright law.
  1. Badge Your Content with a Creative Commons Licence

Selecting a CC licence for your content allows you to:

  • increase awareness and expand the impact of your work
  • assist with building collections of locally created, customisable content
  • contribute to worldwide repositories of Creative Commons content
  • streamline copyright and publishing workflows.
  1. Share Your Original and Remixed Resources

Below are some examples of OERs creators have shared with the world:

You can see a more comprehensive list of OER and open textbook collections – including Australian examples – in Find Open Textbooks to Use and Adapt.

Check out the monthly OEP Digest (Australasian Edition) for more ideas.

  1. Collaborate, Customise and Co-Create Content

One of the best things about OER is how flexible they are, allowing you to:

  1. Share Your Success

You can help promote OER by:

RMIT University Library is highlighting the affordability of OER by building a student savings bank for open textbook adoptions as part of the Open Textbook Initiative.

Build Your OER Knowledge: Take the Seven-Day Challenge 

Day 1: Defining the 'Open' in Open Content and Open Educational Resources

Dr David Wiley defines the ‘open’ in OER, as well as the ‘5R’ activities.

Day 2: A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER)

This Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO guide answers questions about OER and makes a case for why educators should use OER in their courses.

Day 3: Open Educational Resources Mythbusting

This publication by Creative Commons challenges myths about OER and discusses how they differ from other digital resources.

Day 4: Timely Tutorial Series: Introduction to Open Educational Resources (OER)

This video [29:46] by Open Education Global outlines the benefits of OER to students, teachers and institutions, and explains the basic rights of open licences.

Day 5: Beyond Free: Supporting Access, Equity and Student Success With Open Educational Resources

In this presentation for Deakin University’s Centre for Research in Assessment and Digital Learning (CRADLE), Dr Rajiv Jhangiani shares some of his research on OER.

Day 6: Open Education Primer: An Introduction to Open Educational Resources, Practices and Policy for Academic Libraries

This SPARC resource is designed for librarians but is useful for anyone interested in learning more about open education and its three pillars of resources, practices and policy.

Day 7: The OER Starter Kit

This kit is intended for instructors who are new to creating and using OER, with sections on getting started, copyright, finding OER, teaching with OER and creating OER.


Creative Commons Australia. (n.d.). About the licences.

Open Education Group. (n.d.). The review project.