5Rs of Open Educational Resources (OERs)

With schools being encouraged to enact flexible learning options (FLOs), the provision of learning resources associated with FLO implementation is one of the issues raised by teachers. There’s also a need to contextualize these resources to the needs of the learners. Hence, the involvement of the teacher in making sure students access to quality learning resources is an integral part of the process. This can be very overwhelming for the teachers. Creating new content for educational purposes could take time and require some special skills. Luckily, the internet has already a plethora of resources that can be used for educational purposes but teachers should be aware that those may be subject to copyright and fair use agreements. In this case, you may need to ask permission from the original content creators to avoid copyright infringement. Alternatively, open resources refer to the resources that have been released under an open license that allows anyone for free access, use, adaptation, and redistribution with no or limited restrictions. In this case, you don’t need to ask the creator’s permission, but only follow some stipulations from the open license agreement. In this article, we are going to discuss the basics of open education resources (OER) that can be used for teaching, learning, and research materials.

What is Open Educational Resources (OERs)?

An OER is any content such as articles, books, audio, images, videos, and digital tools that gives someone a licensed to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute. This is possible through what is called open licenses such as Creative Commons licenses (CC licenses), the most widely used licensing framework internationally used for OER.

David Wiley defined 5R activities/permissions for “open content” and “open educational resources”:

  • 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)

Through the 5Rs of OERs, teachers have expanded access to quality learning, ability to modify these learning resources, enhance them to fit the needs of their students, rapid dissemination of information, and save some costs for creating new content or learning resources.


  • Defining the “Open” in Open Content and Open Educational Resources was written by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at http://opencontent.org/definition/.
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