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 or re-purposing by others" (Atkins, Brown & Hammond, 2007).
David Wiley, considered the "father of OER" and one of its earliest proponents, defines the "open" in OER as follows:
"Open content" and "open educational resources" describe any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like "open source") that is licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:
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).
Open Educational Resources are educational resources that are placed online with the intention of being free and usable by the general public. OER can be broken down into three categories.
Learning Content - Examples include lectures, lesson plans, notes, videos, data, instructional games, tests, textbooks, articles, assignments and any other educational item that is meant to be shared.
Tools - Examples include software, apps, LMSs (learning management systems) and CMSs (content management systems).
Implementation Resources - Examples include intellectual property licenses and best practices.
Beyond the "things" considered to be open educational resources, OER can also be defined as a movement in education especially in community colleges and other higher education institutions. Many organizations are working to replace traditional textbooks with OER materials to help abate the rising course textbook costs. Other positive factors are also considered when moving to a course which uses OERs, but cost is often the first and biggest consideration when making the move to Open Educational Resources.