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Open Educational Resources: OER Overview

A "getting started" guide overviewing open, editable, and lower-cost textbooks and open teaching & learning resources for faculty, students, and librarians.

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.

They 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

Get Involved!

Through a partnership with the Open Textbook Library, the University Libraries at Virginia Tech are pleased to offer the opportunity for VT faculty to attend an Open Textbook Adoption Workshop and receive $200 for a written review of an open textbook. The 1.5 hour workshop will be offered in Fall 2017. Contact Anita Walz with questions. The workshop covers:

- Open - what it is and what it isn't
- Open educational resources and open textbooks as a solution to student affordability issues
- OER as a tool for learning resource customization and pedagogical innovation
- Supporting faculty adoptions of open educational resources

Open textbooks may be selected from among the 350+ books in the Open Textbook Library. Virginia Tech faculty are welcome to contact Anita Walz for additional information.

The most recent Open Textbook Workshop was held May 19, 2017.

How do I figure out whether something is "openly-licensed"?

Why Open licensing? Why OER?

Encouraging the Ecology of Creativity (PDF from


VIDEO: Why Open Education Matters (2:27)

Definition: "[Open Educational Resources] are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license [such as certain kinds of Creative Commons licenses] that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.

Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge."

Source: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (2010)


Why is the Open Source model compelling for learning and research?

VIDEO: Get Inspired [making education more affordable] (OpenStax)

VIDEO: Supporting Students to Succeed with Open Education (Lumen Foundation)

VIDEO: Open Source Cancer Research - TED Talk by Jay Bradner

Short Readings about Open Educational Resources

Lengthier Background Reading

Propose an openly licensed project!

Do you have an OER creation or OER adaptation project which could use funding or some technical assistance? Are you a Virginia Tech faculty member?  Please send your expression of interest to Anita Walz.

See helpful background documents here

Essential Foundations of OER: Open Licensing. "Get Creative: On the origin and adventures of the Creative Commons licensing project"

At Virginia Tech: What are Open Educational Resources?

OER Initiative at the University Libraries, Virginia Tech

The University Libraries' Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative aims to address the following question:

What can we do to improve student learning and faculty teaching materials to make them increasingly:

  1. Accessible - available in multiple formats, compatible with multiple devices, as well as ADA compliant;

  2. Affordable - ensuring that no student is excluded from access because of financial reasons;

  3. Quality - peer-reviewed, current, authoritative, usable/readable by the intended audience;

  4. Flexible/Adaptable - supportive of various faculty teaching and student learning pedagogies, across disciplines, and teaching approaches; 

  5. Engaging - encouraging efficacious and active student engagement with learning materials; and/or

  6. Innovative - adopting, where relevant, and teaching technical literacies. 

The Open Education movement is built around the 5Rs of Open. These represent the gold standard in openness:

  1. Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content

  2. Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in class, in study group, on a public website, in a video)

  3. Revise – the right to adapt, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)

  4. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., mashup)

  5. 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)


All original content on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 3rd-party content including, but not limited to images and linked items, are subject to their own license terms. CC BY License

Currently featured Open Educational Resources

Open Textbook for Introduction to Business

Cover of Fundamentals of Business 

New (2016) Introductory-level open textbook for Business. 440+ pages, free, online and licensed CC BY NC SA 3.0. About this book. See the book. Print on demand (color | B&W)

About Authoring Open Educational Resources

Open Education Librarian

Anita Walz
NEED HELP? Contact me!
Newman Library 422
Economics, Mathematics & Law Liaison
~ Open Education, Copyright, and Scholarly Communications Librarian~
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Life Science and Scholarly Communication Librarian

Ginny Pannabecker
Newman Library, Room 4062

Office Hours are Flexible:
Contact me to arrange an appointment at:

Subjects: Biology, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Biomedical Engineering, Human Nutrition Food & Exercise, Medicine, Neuroscience, Population Health Sciences (Public Health), Psychology, Systems Biology
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