Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities.
Source: Creative Commons. "Open Education." Accessed October 22, 2021. https://creativecommons.org/about/program-areas/education-oer/
OER proponent David Wiley summarizes how you can use OERs with his "5 Rs":
Source: Wiley, D. (2014). An Open Educational Reader (Ed.). Montreal: Pressbooks.
Great care must be taken to ensure that copyright laws are not being broken when incorporating an OER into your course. It should always be presumed that a resource's use is restricted unless it contains a Creative Commons License or explicitly states that it can be used for educational purposes.
This video provides a brief introduction to Creative Commons licenses and explains some of the rights that can be granted.
Even if a resource does not have a Creative Commons License, it could possibly fall under fair use (please note that such a resource would not be considered an OER). Here is a checklist to help determine if you are within your rights to use a copyrighted resource (Note: It is strongly recommended you check with the Libraries to make sure you are applying fair use correctly):
Have copyright questions?
Contact the UNL Libraries copyright experts:
As with any other resource, OERs should be carefully evaluated before being included in your course. There isn't one standard OER evaluation tool, but here is a list of OER evaluation checklists and rubrics.
In order to ensure your course materials are accessible to all learners, all OER evaluations should include an accessibility review. Here are some resources to help you determine the accessibility of your OERs.