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Open Educational Resources

Overview of OER: Defining the landscape

What is Open Education?

Open Education as a movement and ideology encompasses open resources and practices. It is “a way of carrying out education, often using digital technologies. Its aim is to widen access and participation to everyone by removing barriers and making learning accessible, abundant, and customisable for all. It offers multiple ways of teaching and learning, building and sharing knowledge. It also provides a variety of access routes to formal and non-formal education, and connects the two”. (EU Science Hub, European Commission, 2016, CC BY)

This video from the National Forum for Teaching and Learning gives an overview of Open Education, it's resources and practices as well as  licensing issues. It discusses the phenomenon of "openwashing" and how to recognise and give attribution to truly open material. (approx. 55 mins.). For the nuts and bolts of OER/OEP and processes involved in their use, look particularly at mins. 17:18-36:52.

So what are OER?

“Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.” (UNESCO, May 2019)

OER include a wide range of materials: assessments, assignments, books, case studies, courses, journals, primary sources, reference materials, simulations, tutorials, tests, and textbooks.

Open Education Practice (OEP)

Open Education Practices can be described as “collaborative practices that include the creation, use, and reuse of OER, as well as pedagogical practices employing participatory technologies and social networks for interaction, peer-learning, knowledge creation, and empowerment of learners. (Cronin, 2018, CC BY) 

The open handbook Technology Tools for Teaching in Higher Education, created by authors from three universities is an international collaboration whose aim is to share knowledge on how to adapt technology to teaching. This was in response to the digital shift in 2020 due to the pandemic.

book cover image two separate hands pressing keys on laptop

Is Open Scholarship the same as Open Education?

Open Scholarship, specifically used by TCD and NUIG, is a narrower term for Open Education within the context of higher education. It is "the practice of research, education and knowledge exchange in such a way that others can collaborate and contribute, where research publications, data, lab notes and other scholarly processes and works are properly and ethically managed and evaluated and, unless restricted for justifiable reasons, are freely available to all levels of society under terms that enable reuse, redistribution and reproduction of the work and its underlying data and methods" (Foster and Trinity). See our LibGuide on OPEN SCHOLARSHIP for more information.


(Adapted from Foster’s Open Science definition)

This LibGuide is an example of an OER -  it was made reusing existing, openly licensed materials