Skip to Main Content

Open Educational Resources: What are Open Educational Resources?

A guide to finding open educational resources for teaching and learning.
Mae'r canllaw hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg


Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others.    

(UNESCO, 2019

oer logo

Jonathasmello, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Characteristics of Open Educational Resources

Open educational resources have the following characteristics:

  • They include any resources that might be used in teaching, learning or research including textbooks, images, videos, data, software, learning activities, syllabi, lesson plans and assessments.
  • They have open licences such as those provided by Creative Commons
  • Open licenses enable an open educational resource to be retained, revised, remixed, reused and redistributed (Wiley, 2019). 

Open Access Resources

Open access resources are related to open educational resources, but they are different. Open access resources are research publications that are freely available to consult and in some cases reuse (JISC, 2019).  While open access resources can be used as learning resources, they cannot be revised or adapted like open educational resources.



This material is based on original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at: Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources.

Integrating Open Educational Resources into Online Reading Lists

Open educational resources and open access publications provide a wide range of digital resources that can be embedded into an online reading list.   

Further information about the Aspire Online Reading List system can be found here.

For guidance and assistance finding resources for your online reading lists contact your Faculty Librarian.

Why use Open Educational Resources?

Open educational resources offer the following benefits in teaching and learning: 

  • Improve the affordability of textbooks 

Textbooks can be very expensive both for students and the university, particularly if they are available as ebooks.  The use of open books reduces costs for the student and the university. 

  • Facilitate blended and online learning 

Open educational resources provide digital resources that can be used to provide a wide range of different learning activities in a blended or online learning environment. 

  • Enable the customisation of learning resources 

Open educational resources can be adapted to meet the learning outcomes of specific courses.  They can also be adapted to be more representative and inclusive, helping with decolonisation and to reflect specific contexts such as the Welsh context.  There is also the option of translating them into Welsh. 

  • Remove barriers to accessing learning resources 

Open educational resources provide unlimited access to resources and enable access before and after the course.