CGL 496: Capstone Research in Cultural & Global Studies (Dr. Kulawik): Discipline-Specific Open Educational Resources (OER)


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. 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." [1]

The Open Education movement is built around the 5Rs of Open [2]

  • Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
  • 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 open content 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)

OER are educational materials that are specifically designed by their creator/s to be openly available, and are often licensed to be re-used, re-mixed, and re-distributed.  Open is not just about low cost (though that is an important benefit of using OER) but about the ability to take what others have created, customize it for your specific educational needs, and then share your creation with others.  

OER can come in a variety of forms:

  • Primary sources - Images, video, and sound recordings.  Some  sources are in the public domain, while others have been licensed as open by their creators.   In addition, many texts that are in the public domain are available online/electronically.
  • Learning content - created content that ranges from individual lectures, animations, and assessments to complete courses and textbooks.  

The OER Starter Kit from the Iowa State University Press provides an overview of what OER are, copyright implications of them, and finding and using OER for your own teaching.

SPECIAL NOTE:  This guide is designed to introduce OER to the university community, but don't forget that there are additional electronic resources available to you through the CMU Libraries.  We offer licensed journals, databases, and ebooks to support CMU programs.  Although these resources do not allow for customization and re-use in the same way as OER, they are resources that you can make available at no cost for your students. 

The open resource movement has been around for a while, starting with static learning objects and transitioning to OER that allowed for revision and reuse.  The ever-increasing cost of textbooks and student materials has helped to drive the OER movement forward.  

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 7 in 10 students didn't purchase a textbook because it was too expensive.  Through OER, the cost of student materials can be drastically reduced.  OER also give instructors the ability to customize materials, creating the "perfect" textbook  instead of being bound to traditional print resources. 

The availability of open educational resources is growing, and this guide is intended to help you to identify those that meet your needs.

  • The Open Textbooks page will link you to repositories of open and free textbooks you can customize and adopt for your courses.
  • The Finding OER section will help you navigate through various sources for open educational resources, as well as providing tips for locating openly licensed images.

Mason OER Metafinder

Search: Mason OER Metafinder (MOM)
The Mason OER Metafinder allows you to simultaneously search across the multiple OER repositories (e.g., MERLOT II,, OER Commons, OpenStax CNX, etc.) as well as OER material at sites like HathiTrust, DPLA, the Internet Archive, and Project Gutenberg. 

OER by Discipline

See the menu on the left side of the screen for resources by discipline. 

The most popular repositories of open educational resources are linked below. These resources are continuously updated.  Do you know about an OER that is not listed in these pages? We would love to hear about it!  Submit suggestions to

Creative Commons Licensing

All of the content featured within these pages is free to use, but usage rights vary.  Most content found within these pages is released under a Creative Commons license.   More information about Creative Commons licensing can be found at the Creative Commons web site.  

Image: CC-BY Cabel Green.  Retrieved December 4, 2017

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