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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Information about OERs and Southworth Library

OER Definitions

Please reference the following definitions pertaining to OER at SUNY Canton:

  • Creative Commons License – The creative commons license is not a single license. There are 6 different types of creative commons licenses. In general, the creative commons license is a way for creators, authors and companies that ability to grant others permission to reuse their work, forgoing the traditional “all rights reserved” stipulation.
    • Attribution means:  This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials. This is often referred to as CC By (for "By author"), and is the most open of the licenses.
    • Noncommercial means: This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial,
    • No Derivative Works means: This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you
    • Share Alike means: This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.  This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.
  • Fauxpen - It is crucial to note the distinction between "Free" and "Open"; without the 5 R's, free content is not actually open. "Fauxpen" materials can include library materials, some rights reserved materials, and other content that feels open but is not.
  • Five R’s of OER – A useful way to appreciate the value of OER is to understand what you, the user of openly licensed content, are allowed to do with it. These permissions are granted in advance, and are legally established through Public Domain or Creative Commons copyrights:
    • Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
    • Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
    • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
    • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
    • Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)
  • Low Cost Course – indicates your course does not require a textbook, or all required materials (including equipment that must be purchased and all access codes) cost less than $60 total.
  • OER – OER, Open Educational Resources, are learning resources under the creative commons license. Depending on the type of creative commons under which learning materials, such as media, lectures, research materials, and texts, are licensed, users can retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute.
  • OER Course – Over 51% of the materials required for your course are openly licensed or in the public domain.  This means students can openly access them without a paywall.

Examples of OER include:

What is NOT an OER?

Some educational resources are available free of charge to students but do not meet the definition of an OER.

Examples of resources that are NOT OER include:

"Fauxpen" resources: Resources made freely available to all Internet users. Although anyone can access them, they are still protected by copyright. 
Examples include: 

  • YouTube videos
  • E-resources such as the Purdue OWL

Licensed Resources: Resources that have no cost to students or faculty but are paid for by the Library. They are protected by copyright. Examples include: 

  • Library databases and e-books.
  • Articles from NY Times,, Buzzfeed, or other online resources that are not specifically licensed for open access
  • Most electronic textbooks provided through the library website