Skip to Main Content
Go to Penn Libraries homepage   Go to Guides homepage

Open Educational Resources: What are OER?

Open Licensing

What distinguishes OER from other freely available materials is that they are openly licensed. There are several kinds of open licenses, but most common are the Creative Commons (CC) licenses. There are four license elements that can be combined to create six different CC licenses. The elements are:  

Creative Commons "Attribution" logo BY (Attribution)

Creative Commons "Share Alike" logo SA (Share Alike)

Creative Commons "Non-commercial" logo NC (Non-Commercial)

Creative Commons "No Derivatives" logo ND (No Derivatives)

To see the six licenses, visit the Creative Commons site

You can also put your work into the public domain with a CC0 license:

Public domain logo​​​​​​ CC0 (Public Domain)

5 Rs of OER

CC licenses and other open licenses give users permission to do some or all of the following: 

  • Retain: Resource can be retained for personal archives
  • Reuse: Resource can be reused in its original (unaltered) format
  • Revise: Resource can be adapted or altered
  • Remix: Resource (both unaltered and edited versions) can be combined with other open resources to create something new
  • Redistribute: Copies of the resource can be distributed in its original, revised, or remixed form 

Open Educational Resources (OER) are "teaching, learning, and research resources that are free of cost and access barriers, and which also carry legal permission for open use." (SPARC) OER come in the form of syllabi, open textbooks, slide decks, assignments, assessment materials, and more. 

Librarian for Education

Profile Photo
Joanna Thompson
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center 217
Subjects: Education
Penn Libraries Home Franklin Home
(215) 898-7555