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Open Educational Resources (OER): Home

Open Educational, Open Access, and Library-funded resources for teaching and learning.

Open Educational Resources Vs. Open Access

Open Educational Resources (OER) are free materials for teaching and learning that can be reused and/or modified (based on the creative commons copyright license).  Resources may include textbooks, articles, videos, and other multimedia materials.

Open Access (OA) is access to scholarly material such as publications, journals, and articles. The material is free to use depending on the creative commons license. They cannot be modified; however.

The resources provided in this guide are a mix of OER and OA resources.  The main difference between Open Educational Resources and Open Access Resources is whether material can or cannot be modified; both models are openly available to use.

Licensed Resources are ebooks, journals, articles, documents, films, and primary sources purchased and curated by the Stanley Library to support teaching, learning, and research at Ferrum College.

OER Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are free and accessible teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their use and re-purposing by others.  Open educational resources include full courses, course content/materials, textbooks, modules, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

Widely-recognized OER providers (textbooks, resources):
  • BC Campus OpenEd - In the BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide, we’ve shared our definition of open educational resources (OER): “teaching, learning, and research resources that, through permissions granted by their creator, allow others to use, distribute, keep, or make changes to them.”
  • LibreTexts - The LibreTexts mission is to unite students, faculty, and scholars in a cooperative effort to develop an easy-to-use online platform for the construction, customization, and dissemination of open educational resources (OER) to reduce the burdens of unreasonable textbook costs to our students and society.
  • OER Commons - OER Commons offers a comprehensive infrastructure for curriculum experts and instructors at all levels to identify high-quality OER and collaborate around their adaptation, evaluation, and use to address the needs of teachers and learners. 
  • Open Education Consortium - A global network of educational institutions, individuals, and organizations that support an approach to education based on openness, including collaboration, innovation, and collective development and the use of open educational materials. The Open Education Consortium is a non-profit, social benefit organization registered in the United States and operating worldwide through 40 countries.
  • Open Education Group – An interdisciplinary research group that conducts original, rigorous, empirical research on the impact of OER adoption on a range of educational outcomes and designs and shares methodological and conceptual frameworks for studying the impact of OER adoption.
  • Open Textbook Library - Open textbooks are licensed by authors and publishers to be freely used and adapted. Download, edit and distribute them at no cost. Now offering 1152 open textbooks, the Open Textbook Library is supported by the Open Education Network.
  • OpenStax - OpenStax is part of Rice University, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable corporation. As an educational initiative, it's our mission to improve educational access and learning for everyone. Through our partnerships with philanthropic foundations and our alliance with other educational resource companies, we're breaking down the most common barriers to learning. Because we believe that everyone should and can have access to knowledge.
  • SPARC – A global coalition committed to making research and education Open by default. They support and encourage the adoption of policies and practices that advance Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education.
  • Open Educational Resources [unesco] - The Recommendation on OER, adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference at its 40th session on 25 November 2019, is the first international normative instrument to embrace the field of openly licensed educational materials and technologies in education.

Looking for older Humanity Pieces or Materials that might be in the Public Domain?
  • Project Gutenberg - Project Gutenberg is an online library of free eBooks. Project Gutenberg was the first provider of free electronic books or eBooks. Michael Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, invented eBooks in 1971 and his memory continues to inspire the creation of eBooks and related content today.

Below are just a few of the databases containing open access books, articles, government documents, technical reports, gray literature, white papers, and more that you can use to support teaching and learning at Ferrum College.

Mixed Media


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OER Funding Information

Faculty can apply for funds from both ACA and VIVA.
  • Open Appalachia: Open & Affordable Resources Initiative - Investment in open and affordable resources, on the other hand, which includes free and editable open educational resources as well as library licensed resources that do not cost students money, directly support faculty, students, staff, and the higher education industry. So, let’s build our open and affordable community to give academic freedom to our faculty, save our students money, create learning materials that reflect the lives of the Appalachian communities we serve, and support our own institutions.  
  • VIVA Open Grants -  As part of VIVA’s Open and Affordable Course Content Programs, VIVA provides four VIVA Open grant opportunities: Adopt Grants, Course Grants, Grants for Libraries and Open Publishing Grants. These grants encourage the use of open and affordable course content by providing funding for instructors and libraries to adopt, adapt and create course content that can be made available to students for no or very little cost.
  • Open Education Grants - The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world.
Training and Education Offers
  • Professional Learning & Teacher Training [OER Commons] - We support educators in improving how they collaborate, design, curate, and lead innovation in their work. We connect educators with ideas, trainings, tools, and opportunities that strengthen their professional practice to make it more inclusive and relevant to learners. Get started with ISKME's award-winning trainings, customized to individual and group's specific needs, and include an Introduction to OER Practices, OER Discovery and Curation, OER Design and Authoring, and Road Mapping Strategies for OER Adoption.
Creation Tools
  • Guides on OER Creation Tools - A sizable list from the University of Pittsburgh Library System and part of an excellent guide to OER.
  • Pressbooks - Book writing software that lets you create a book in multiple formats, including CreateSpace, IngramSpark, and Lightning Source.

What is...?

What are Creative Commons and Open Licences?

  • An important element of open educational resources, specifically open textbooks in the B.C. Open Textbook Collection, is that they are openly licensed, but what does that mean? 

  • Open licenses enable collaboration, development, access, and inspiration from your creative works without requiring you to give up the rights (copyright) automatically granted to you for your creation.

  • An open license lets you retain ownership of your work while allowing others to use, share, and remix it, without requesting your permission. For most open licenses, all that is required of the users is to attribute you to your work.

What is a copyright?
  • Ferrum College complies with copyright laws regarding the exclusive rights of materials by copyright owners.  All employees and students of Ferrum College are expected to adhere to federal copyright laws.  The College educates the campus community on issues related to copyright use and takes measures to limit the unlawful use of copyrighted materials. You can find Ferrum College's Copyright Policy here

  • While we fully respect the exclusive rights that copyright holders have, we as a not-for-profit educational institution, value our rights to fair use of materials as outlined in the law.  These include certain educational exemptions for fair use, classroom and online teaching, and circulation of library materials.  We recognize that we must review all four factors outlined in Section 107 of the Copyright Act, to assess whether a use falls within the fair use exemption.  These include:

  • The purpose and character of the use
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work (U.S. Copyright Office, 2012).
  • Members of our community who wish to use copyrighted materials outside of the parameters of fair use or other educational copyright exemptions are encouraged to contact the copyright holder for permission.  For information regarding student violations of this policy: see the Academic Violations section within the Student Handbook.

What is public domain?
  • Items in the public domain are not protected by intellectual property laws, including copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public domain belongs to the public – no individual can claim any right to the material, and it can be used by anyone without obtaining permission.

  • Here are four of the typical ways that work end up in the public domain:
    • The copyright has expired
    • The existing copyright owner failed to renew the copyright
    • The work was dedicated to the public domain
    • Copyright law is not applicable to this type of work (for example short phrases, facts and theories, and U.S. government works)

*Copyright law varies from country to country, and a work can be in the public domain in one country, but not necessarily in another.

What are Creative Commons?
  • Creative Commons (CC) is a global body that provides open-copyright licenses, so as an author, you can give your permission to share and reuse your creative work, with the conditions you choose.
  • Flickr - Search or browse images across Creative Commons license types.
  • Mazwai - Provides high-quality, cinematic-style stock footage for free.
  • Videvo - An extensive collection of free music, sound effects, stock video clips and motion graphics.

What is Creative Commons Licensing?

Licensed Resources

To the right are only few of the licensed resources the library makes available. Some are subscription resources, but some are purchased collections that the library owns. Contact us for more information.
The Stanley Library subscribes to thousands of journals through full-text databases, but linking to them can be arduous. One terrific method is to use the Full Text Finder tool, which will redirect your students to the full text of subscription content, regardless of where the article is actually stored.

1) Click the Advanced Search on the OneSearch Tool

2) Click Citation Finder

3) Enter the Citation Information or, if you have the DOI or PMID, even better!

4) Click Submit

5) Copy the URL and paste it into Brightspace

*Note: To assure success off-campus, make sure you include the proxy information in your link.

Questions? Contact us!

NOTE: To assure that the resource is available from off campus, be sure to prepend the library's proxy server information like so:

Mason OER Metafinder

MOM iconMason OER Metafinder (MOM)
Advanced Search


The OER Metafinder performs a simultaneous search across 19 different sources of open educational materials. Because it is a real-time, federated search, it can take a bit longer than searches of pre-indexed, curated content; however, as compensation the results returned are absolutely up-to-the-minute for each search target. Additional results will continue to trickle in as the search continues running and you begin examining your results.


Works Cited [Additional Resources]