Skip to Main Content

Open Educational Resources

Teaching, learning, and research resources that are free to all and licensed by their creators for sharing and remixing.

They may include, but are not limited to, textbooks, readings, multi-media files, software, assessment tools, and even entire courses. Utilize the search engines or browse various collections to find a diverse range of learning materials that suit your needs.


Open Educational Resources...

Increase Accessibility

Provide Creative and Customized Learning Materials

Reduce Financial Barriers for Students

The 5 Rs of Openness

the right to make, own, and control copies of the content

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)

the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)

the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)

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)

David Wiley, CC, March 2014,

Types of OER

Open Courseware, Lectures, and Tutorials

Openly Licensed Images and Illustrations

Open Textbooks

Films and Videos

Activities and Simulations

Assessments and Teaching Resources

Case Studies

Recommended Readings

Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that are created with the intention of being freely available to users anywhere. They may include, but are not limited to, textbooks, readings, multi-media files, software, assessment tools, and even entire courses. Most are covered by licenses that allow for using, re-mixing, and sharing.

OER News

Keep your finger on the OER pulse!


The Mason OER Metafinder (MOM)

This tool searches 22 different collections of open educational resources in real time.


Developed by SUNY Geneseo's Milne Library, this database contains records for over 300 000 open educational resources.

Categories of Resources

The following links provide a sample of various digital collections with openly licensed content. If you can't find what you're looking for, contact your Subject Librarian for help! You will also find additional image collections on our Copyright Guide.

Please review the terms of use for the image to ensure proper attribution for any content you use. Tools such as the OpenAttribute browser extension can help. You can use a TinEye Reverse Image Search to double check that images that have been labelled as free to use haven't been wrongly uploaded from commercial image sites.

The following is not an exhaustive list, but rather a sample of available content. Use the Mason OER Metafinder to search for additional resources or contact your subject librarian for assistance. 

The following is not an exhaustive list, but rather a sample of available content. Use the Mason OER Metafinder to search for additional resources or contact your subject librarian for assistance. 

The following is not an exhaustive list, but rather a sample of available content. Use the Mason OER Metafinder to search for additional resources or contact your subject librarian for assistance. 

The following is not an exhaustive list, but rather a sample of available content. Use the Mason OER Metafinder to search for additional resources or contact your subject librarian for assistance. 

Many of the texts in the OpenStax collection are accompanied by instructor materials like slides and test banks. Here is an example of the type of materials available for a Microbiology text.

Texts in the BC Campus open collection may include supplementary resources including videos, test banks, instructor guides, and slides. Here is an example.

The advanced search feature in OER Common allows you to limit to particular types of materials like assessments.

The links below are open resource mega sites that offer books as well as other OER teaching tools.

Adopt an OER

Adopting an Open Educational Resource

The benefits of using an OER include an already existing volume and variety of quality resources across all disciplines, reduced barriers such as costs for both students and faculty, and the ability to adopt these resources according to your needs. Luckily, instructors from post-secondary institutions around the world continue to develop and contribute quality learning materials, reducing the duplication of such resources by sharing them openly with the academic community. 

Below are some considerations that can help determine the process for adopting, adapting, and/or creating an OER:

  • What type of material are you looking for? You can use a blend of openly accessible textbooks, video tutorials, lecture notes, etc, that best suit the outcomes of your course. 
  • Does this content and/or resource already exist? If so, consider reviewing your syllabi to include these resources. 
  • Does the existing resource meet the needs of your intended audience? 
  • Is the OER designed in such a way that allows you to pick and choose relevant content to meet your instructional needs?

Source: Alberta OER Starter Toolkit 2.0

Choosing OER: Assessing for Quality

With so many freely available resources online, choosing OER can be overwhelming. The following resources offer guidelines and suggestions for best practices when adopting an OER:

Licensed eBooks vs. Open Textbooks

Licensed Ebooks found in the library Catalogue and Open textbooks online - what's the difference?

From time to time, instructors may decide to assign a licensed ebook as a textbook. While this can save students textbook fees, it can also be problematic!

If you are considering using a library ebook as a course textbook to provide shared access for your students, please consider the following:

  • The library signs licenses for publisher driven ebooks - many of which are found in the catalogue. Different publisher and aggregator platforms have different restrictions about the number of simultaneous users, the amount of printing and downloading allowed, etc.
  • If the ebook is part of an aggregated package, it can be removed by the publisher at any time without notice. This does not happen often, but it has happened in the past. It's a good idea to have a backup plan in place such as putting a print copy on reserve.
  • Open textbooks are completely 'open' - they do not typically restrict number of users, or chapter downloads.
  • If you are unsure whether the ebook you want to use in your course is open or from a publisher's licensed package, contact us - we can help!

Adapt an OER

Adapting an Open Educational Resource

You might have found several OERs that cover the information you need, yet its not quite right. Using OERs enables you to remix content, including adding your own work, providing optimal flexibility when curating your classroom materials. 

Adapting an OER can be quite simple, depending on the following: 

  • How much do you wish to change? Are you looking to remove a chapter, edit one, or blend with another resource?
  • Does the licensing allow you to remix content appropriately? See our Licensing and Copyright page for more information. 
  • What technical formats are involved? Do you have the means to modify the format? 
  • Do you have the technical expertise to assist you with the process? If not, have you identified someone who does? For assistance, contact the Academic Development Centre

Review these considerations in greater detail with BCCampus' 6 Steps to Modifying an Open Textbook 

Project Mapping and Staying Organized When Adapting an OER

Whether you plan to adapt or create an OER, it is important to approach the project with a detailed plan in mind and stay organized throughout the process. The following resources can assist you in mapping your project and provide you with additional resources like formatting guides, licensing, and accessibility information. 

  • BC Campus Adaptation Guide The Adaptation Guide is a practical reference about how to customize — or adapt — an open textbook so that it better fits your needs in the classroom and elsewhere. This guide defines the term adaptation and discusses reasons for revising a book, why this is possible with an open textbook, and the challenges involved.
  • Modifying an Open Textbook: What You Need To KnowRebus has put together an overview of the OER modification process, as well as editing format guides for PDFs, HTML, EPUB/MOBI, Pressbooks, and OpenStax.
  • Creating and Modifying Open Educational Resources TutorialCreating and Modifying Open Educational Resources is a chapter-by-chapter informational tutorial created by Affordable Learning Georgia

Forward to 22:38 and learn more about the process of evaluation, project mapping and adaptation with BCCampus. 

Create an OER

Tips for New Creators

While there are so many OERs already available, you might consider developing your own resource materials. These can include new or updated content from your discipline, integrating and/or developing concepts into different formats such as instructional videos, lecture slides, worksheets, quizzes, or into a more accessible tool. Additionally, creating an OER opens the possibility for including student contributions as part of the process.

Resources for creating OER's

Project Mapping and Staying Organized

Whether you plan to adapt or create an OER, it is important to approach the project with a detailed plan in mind and stay organized throughout the process. The following aspects are vital to maintaining the 5 R's of open:

Sources: OpenUBC / ABOER Starter Kit v2.0 

Best Practices

Introduction to Best Practices

MRU Library Guidelines for OER Development

This document provides faculty and students with a list of key contacts on campus (for OER support), an overview of the Pressbooks platform, copyright guidelines, accessibility best practices, and links to additional resources. We recommend that individuals consult this guide before undertaking an OER project.

Technical and Digital Accessibility

Accessibility Considerations
Read more about technical and pedagogical considerations when developing OER. 

W3 Fundamentals: What is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them properly and to the fullest extent. Learn more about the current barriers that exist, and how to design web content that benefits students and society. 

Accessibility Toolkit: Making Your Open Textbook Accessible (Ryerson University) 
This toolkit provides information on how to make content accessible, including images, tables, weblinks, multimedia, formulas, color contrast and visual accommodations through the lens of universal design. 

Accessibility Toolkit - 2nd Ed. (BCCampus) 
This toolkit includes best practices on how to format multimedia content, as well as webinar content, "redesign or accommodation" guidelines, and a checklist for accessibility.

Decolonization, Diversity and Inclusion

Can We Decolonize OER/Open?
A blog on the mindful considerations regarding power, privilege, and access and the potential impact that OER and open educational praxis can have to disrupt academic and environmental barriers that are present in post-secondary education and the production of knowledge. 

Leveraging Open Educational Resources to Help Queer Students
This article was featured in the Canadian OER Digest for Pride Month 2019, and discusses how recognizing the power of supportive learning materials can be leveraged to increase academic success through inclusive curricula. 

Equity and Openness - A Call to Action
A co-authored blog that discusses how equity, diversity and inclusion are currently being modeled in the open community, including discussions on labor, academic praxis, and the inclusion of broad and diverse perspectives. 

Cultural Competency - Blueprint for Success in College and Career
The information presented in this chapter is designed to better prepare students for the intellectual and societal challenges facing an increasingly diverse society within the post-secondary context and beyond. 

Accessibility Resources

Accessibility, Diversity and Inclusion 
This chapter from BCCampus' Self-Publishing Guide outlines a variety of barriers that students face in post-secondary education and provides solutions that include more detailed resources to on how to address them when developing OERs and utilizing them in the classroom. 

Inclusive Learning Design 
The handbook is developed for the FLOE Project by the Inclusive Design Research Centre, and contains information on who is best served by these practices, perspectives, approaches, and techniques to meaningfully consider when developing learning materials for academic use. 

W3 - Web Accessibility Initiative
W3 provides strategies, standards, and resources to make the web accessible to people with disabilities tby focusing on accessibility, usability, and inclusion as guiding principles. 

Inclusive Media and Design Centre (Ryerson University) 
The IMDC designs, creates, and evaluates inclusive media and technology. Much of their work focuses on inclusivity in technologies for the blind and low-vision and deaf and hard of hearing individuals. 

OER and Accessibility: Master List
In collaboration with MERLOT, the Open Education Consortium, the National Federation of the Blind, and California State University, this site provides a master resource list on accessibility tools and technologies, institutional best practices, technical guidelines, and universal design for learning. 

File Formats

When creating or adapting OERs, it's ideal if you can share your work in as many open file formats as possible. Most software (including Microsoft Office) allows you to export your documents in a variety of formats.

Open Formats

  • Open document (.odf)
  • Epub (.epub)
  • Mobi (.mobi)
  • Text (.txt)
  • PNG (.pgn)
  • XML (.xml)

Closed Formats

  • MS Word (.docx)
  • MS PowerPoint (.pptx)
  • MS Excel (.xlsx)
  • Photoshop (.psd)
  • PDF (.pdf)
  • RTF (.rtf)

Sometimes it's not possible to share your OER in an open file format and that's OK. A good best practice is to share your work in three different formats - two of which should be editable. 

Example:You've created a class activity and you want to share it as an OER. The activity was created in Microsoft Word (.docx) and you convert the file to Open Document Format (.odf) and PDF (.pdf). The PDF version of the file cannot be edited, but the Office and Open Document version are editable. 


Fonts and Formatting Best Practices

  • Provide the full hyperlink address when possible
  • Make sure your documents work in grayscale formats for colorblind users
  • Audio files should be accompanied by transcripts for users with hearing impairments
  • Video files should include captions and transcripts for users with hearing impairments
  • Use colour schemes that have clear contrast for the visually impaired

W3 Web Accessibility Videos

OER Grant Program

The Open Educational Resources Grant (OEG) program pilot provides funding and support to all full-time and contract faculty members interested in adapting and/or adopting open educational resources -- or engaging in other forms of open pedagogy related to the use of open materials -- during the 2023-2024 academic year. 

The purpose of the Open Educational Resources Grants is to provide faculty with the support needed to engage in the work of adopting and/or adapting existing open resources. Faculty interested in the creation of new open educational resources are advised to apply for a Teaching and Learning Enhancement Grant.

The Adoption Grant is intended to facilitate the replacement of a commercially required resource (e.g., textbook or other publisher-based readings, etc.) with an open one. The grant funding supports the hiring of a student partner who can assist in the identification, review, and mapping of the new open resource to existing course materials. 

Ultimately, the purpose of the OE adoption grant is to promote access to high-quality educational experiences while maximizing the availability and use of textbooks and other learning resources for all students--regardless of their financial circumstances. For this grant program, projects that replace 70% or more of total course material costs for students will be prioritized. 

Adoption grant recipients can receive funding up to $1,000, in addition to in-kind assistance through the Library and the Academic Development Centre.

Eligible OE adaptation projects may include proposals to modify existing open textbooks by updating or localizing them, making them interactive by incorporating H5P applications, or developing ancillary resources (such as question banks) to support existing open textbooks, including in collaboration with students (via open pedagogy) or with other faculty collaborators. 

Adaptation grant recipients receive funding up to $2,000, in addition to in-kind assistance through the Library and the Academic Development Centre.

Full-time faculty as well as contract faculty with confirmed courses running in the 2024-2025 academic year are eligible to apply. The intent is to distribute funds to maximize direct benefits to a wide range of student learners and across a diversity of disciplines. Faculty members may apply individually or as a course team.

Eligible Expenses

  • Support for hiring MRU student assistants (e.g. to locate relevant OER, assist with integrating OER into course websites, test out materials, etc.). Hiring of student assistants must follow the university’s practices regarding casual employees.
  • Expenses relating to editorial work (e.g., copy-editing).

Note: These grants may not be applied to release time for faculty. Funds may not be used for travel, equipment, or software. For full-time faculty recipients, expenses must be incurred by December 2024. For contract faculty grant recipients, any eligible expenses must be incurred and submitted for reimbursement during the period covered by their Winter 2024, Spring/Summer 2024, and Fall 2024 teaching contracts. 


In Kind Contributions

Grant recipients will receive support from the Library which includes assistance with identifying suitable OER, appropriate Creative Commons licenses and copyright, training in the use of the Pressbooks publishing platform, selecting possible venues for dissemination, and deposit in MRU’s Open Access Repository.  Recipients can also receive support from the ADC regarding open pedagogy, student partnerships, or other course design, assessment, or evaluation considerations.

Proposals will be evaluated based on the following general criteria:

  • The proposal includes curation and adoption (adoption grant) or curation and adaptation of OER, including updating or revising smaller-scale ancillary resources to support an existing resource (adaptation grant)
  • The proposal clearly articulates the potential impact on students, faculty pedagogy, and the university. At a minimum, the resources must be utilized in at least one section delivered in the Winter 2024, or Spring/Summer 2024, or Fall 2024 terms and represent a savings to students of at least 70% of previous course material costs. If the proposal relates to a course being delivered for the first time (no existing list of required materials), open educational resources should form the majority of assigned materials. 
  • If the proposal relates to a course that is already extensively using open educational materials, the proposed changes should improve the student experience in terms of quality of materials, accessibility, or interactivity. 
  • The proposed project is feasible in relation to the timeframe provided and available institutional support.
  • The budget provided is clearly justified and contains allowable expenses.
  • Sharing of experiences with the MRU community and listing of their name and project on the MRU Library website; 
  • A brief summary report (up to 2 pages) submitted upon completion of the project. The report must be received by the library at the end of the term that you use the OER;
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of the OER implementation in the course involved (e.g. student survey);
  • Requirements for any adapted or new works created through this funding:
    • Publication of resulting open educational resource(s) with a Creative Commons license that allows for the creation and (re)use of derivative works. Support will be provided for this process;
    • Grant recipients are responsible for obtaining written permission from all contributors to the project (including students) for the publication of their work under this license. This permission should also address their preferred form of attribution;
    • Acknowledgement of the support from MRU Library and Academic Development Centre OER Grant in the publication(s);
    • The OER will follow the guidelines in the BC Open Textbook Accessibility Toolkit; and,
    • Deposit of the OER in the MRU Open Access Repository in an editable file format.

Complete the following application form and submit it to 

Applications will be reviewed against the eligibility criteria and applicants notified within 2 weeks of submission. Applications must be submitted by January 17, 2024.


Questions about the program can be directed to Erik Christiansen (Library) or Erika Smith (ADC) at

Charlotte Curtis, Eric Chalmers, and Patrick Perri: Computer Science

  • Course: COMP 1701 - Foundations of Python Programming

Kris Hans: Business

  • Course: MGMT 2275 – Creativity in the Workplace

Ravdeep Kaur Batth, Chemistry

  • Course: CHEM 2111 - The Organic Chemistry of Life

Laura Ell, Health and Physical Education

  • Courses: SRMG 2400 - Commercial Recreation and SRMG 2440 - Community Development

Amanda Williams, Communications

  • Course: COMM 3738 - Research Design and Methodology

Pressbooks @ MRU

What is Pressbooks?

Pressbooks is a publishing tool that is frequently used to create, adapt, and publish open books. It makes it easy for authors to copy existing open books and adapt them to their own context, or to create new openly licensed books from scratch. Some of the advantages of Pressbooks are:

  • Provides out of the box chapter formatting and other features which make it easy for authors to structure their content
  • Allows readers to view books online or download the content in a variety of file formats
  • Compatible with tools like H5P which allow authors to embed interactive elements in their texts

Here are some examples of open books that have been published using Pressbooks:

There are many guides and tutorials available to support Pressbooks. 


Interested in a Pressbooks Account?

Members of the Mount Royal Community who are interested in obtaining a Pressbooks account should complete the following form. You will then be contacted by a member of the Library team who will outline the features of the software and your responsibilities as a user. All users must sign and agree to the terms of the publishing agreement below before an account will be issued.

If you have any questions, please contact Erik Christiansen at

Pressbooks & Open Education Alberta

Logo for Open Education Alberta Project

Mount Royal is collaborating with other Alberta postsecondary institutions on a new provincial publishing platform for open educational resources. This initiative allows MRU faculty and staff to adapt existing open textbooks to the needs of their students or to create openly licensed resources using Pressbooks, a well known publishing software.  New resources may be featured in the central Open Education Alberta library.

Open Pedagogy

What is Open Pedagogy?

Open pedagogy, also known as open educational practices (OEP), is the use of open educational resources (OER) to support learning, or the open sharing of teaching practices with a goal of improving education and training at the institutional, professional, and individual level. When you use open pedagogy in your classroom, you are inviting your students to be part of the teaching process, participating in the co-creation of knowledge." Learn More.

Source: "What is Open Pedagogy?" BCCampus

Open Pedagogy can include working directly with students to create content, utilizing "living assignments" in the classroom, encouraging open licensing whenever appropriate and possible, pursuing interdisciplinary educational opportunities, and more. Here are a few examples to help you envision what an open collaboration with students can look like!

Additional Resources: 

Working with Students

Generative AI in OER: Adaption & Creation

BCcampus has provided some guidelines for incorporating generative AI tools into the creation of open educational resources (OER). 


Definition of Generative AI:

Generative AI, also known as GenAI, is a form of artificial intelligence that generates new content based on natural language input. It can generate text, images, videos, sounds, code, 3D designs, and other media. Generative AI is trained on documents and artifacts that already exist online. It learns a representation of artifacts from data and uses it to generate brand-new, unique artifacts that resemble but don’t repeat the original data. (Coursera, n.d.).

Definition of Large Language Models:

A large language model (LLM) is a complex mathematical representation of language that is based on very large amounts of data and allows computers to produce language that seems similar to what a human might say. LLMs use deep learning techniques and massive datasets to achieve their capabilities (Cambridge English Dictionary, n.d.).

Considerations before using AI in OER


  • Transparency, bias, and accuracy of AI outputs are an ongoing concern, in addition to copyright and intellectual property (IP) considerations. This underscores the need to be thoughtful when using, and incorporating, AI-generated materials.

  • Use caution when using AI-generated materials. Review the subject matter carefully, especially if you’re not well-versed in the subject. AI can be prone to making up content and answers (known as hallucinations).

  • Be transparent about the use and incorporation of AI-generated materials, including the tools used and content verification processes.

  • Avoid applying open licenses, such as Creative Commons, to AI-generated content due to potential copyright consequences.


In their guidelines, BCcampus provides a decision-making framework to guide the ethical use of AI-generated content.

(Source: BCcampus Generative AI guidelines, 2021)

AI tools are subject to rapid change, so we recommend that you read BCcampus’ full guidelines in their book Getting Started: OER Publishing at BCcampus.

AI-powered literature search tools are designed to help scholars locate and analyze academic literature. They can streamline the creation of OER by quickly identifying relevant literature, related literature, data from literature, and literature trends.

  • Semantic Scholar: An AI-powered research tool for filtering, citation insights, and access to millions of articles.

  • CORE: Aggregates open access research globally, enhancing search results and recommendations with AI.

  • Connected Papers: Creates a graph of related papers for exploring research domain landscapes.

  • ResearchRabbit: Maps the academic research landscape, helping users discover and organize related work.

  • Scinapse: An academic search engine with AI for improved search results over 200 million articles.

  • Elicit: An AI-based research tool that helps researchers find relevant papers based on their research questions, offering an innovative approach to literature review. (Note: Elicit Basic gives users 500 free credits, but a paid account is required to conduct additional searches.)

  • Consensus: Facilitates literature review and collaboration by summarizing and highlighting consensus in scientific research, utilizing AI to streamline the review process.

Further reading:Selected AI-Based Literature Review Tools” (with prompts), Texas A&M University Libraries

Examples of possible use cases for generating text for OER

Reflection question creation: AI formulates reflective questions at the end of chapters or lessons, encouraging critical engagement and reinforcing learning outcomes.

Language translation and localization: AI aids in translating content to make it accessible to a broader audience, especially for students whose first language is not English.

Text accessibility: AI generates alternative text for images, captions for videos, and text-to-speech transformations, improving accessibility for students with disabilities.

Script creation: AI scripts content for educational videos or podcasts, varying in style to make learning dynamic and accessible.

Summarization and Organization: AI summarizes textbook chapters, distilling key points to aid quick learning and efficient revision

Tone Adaptation: AI adapts the tone of content to suit different audiences, making educational materials more accessible and engaging.


Popular AI Chatbots to get started with

  • ChatGPTAn AI-powered chatbot developed by OpenAI. It uses a large language model to engage in conversations and provide responses based on the input it receives.

  • Microsoft Copilot: A chatbot developed by Microsoft, powered by the OpenAI Large Language Model (LLM). Copilot integrates with Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams, providing real-time intelligent assistance to enhance productivity, creativity, and skills.

  • Claude: Claude is an AI by Anthropic that offers conversational interactions, designed for both casual and professional use with a focus on safety and context understanding.

  • Jasper: Jasper is a generative AI content creation platform that enables efficient scaling of high-quality written content for marketers and businesses.

  • Gemini: Gemini, previously known as Google Bard, is Google's generative AI chatbot, providing conversational and informative responses to make web information more accessible and engaging.

Further reading:The best AI image generators to try right now,” ZDNet

Effective AI prompts require time and effort to develop. If you plan using a similar prompt throughout your project, try and develop one that you can re-use in different circumstances. The [......] indicate areas where you can provide more specific instructions to the AI.


Example prompt: Creating chapter summaries, key takeaways, and reflections questions



Example ChatGPT response: 



For this example, we used the chapter “Federal Regulations” from Tim Taylor’s Pressbook Regulation and the Environment: The Canadian Environment, 2023.


While the disclosure of generative AI assistance in the creation of Open Educational Resources (OER) is not mandatory, adhering to best practices for transparency is recommended. Below is a suggested format for such disclosure:

Example disclosure statement:

This work incorporates insights and content generated with the assistance of a generative AI tool, specifically [Generative AI Tool Name: e.g., GPT-4], available at [URL]. The tool contributed to [briefly describe how the AI was used, e.g., "expanding on specific topics, generating examples, and aiding in the revision process"]. This inclusion aimed to enhance the educational quality and comprehensiveness of the material.

For more information on how AI can be used for OER and educational content creation, consider reading the following articles:

Licensing and Copyright


When creating or adapting Open Educational Resources, please ensure that your work is in compliance with Canadian copyright law. For assistance, please contact the MRU Copyright Advisor or visit the MRU copyright website.

Mount Royal University

University of Alberta OER Copyright Tutorials

Open Licensing

One of the defining aspects of Open Educational Resources (OER) is their use of open licensing standards. There are some distinct benefits to open licensing:

  • It's relatively easy to apply these licenses to your work
  • The language is simplified and it's easy to determine how your work, and the work of others, can be used and attributed
  • Open licensing makes it easier to share resources and it can facilitate the use of your work

Common Open Licensing Standards

Creative Commons

The Creative Commons is the most common of the open licensing standards, and it's simplified language makes it easier for creators to apply it to their work.

The Creative Commons allows you to determine how your work will be used, by attaching the following elements to your license.

License Elements

Attribution (BY) - The creator of the work must be given credit. All Creative Commons licenses, except for public domain (CC0), require attribution.

Noncommercial (NC) - The work cannot be used for commercial purposes such as advertising or re-selling copies of the work

No Derivative Works (ND) - The work cannot be altered and must be used "as is" unless permission is obtained from the author

Share Alike (SA) - Variations of a work must use the same license as the original work

Source: Creative Commons, CC-BY-4.0

Creative Commons License Types

The Creative Commons allows for a total of seven license types. Note that the ShareAlike (SA) and NoDerivatives (ND) license elements cannot be combined.

It's also important to note that some licenses - and therefore some materials - cannot be combined. If you're creating an OER and you're unsure which licenses are compatible, check out this Creative Commons license compatibility chart. The license you choose will greatly impact how widely your work will be shared or adapted. For more information, see the "Permissive vs Restrictive Licensing" section of this guide.


Attribution (CC BY)

"This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials."

Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)

"This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects."

Attribution No-Derivatives (CC BY-ND)

"This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you."

Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

"This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms."

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)

"This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms."

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives ( CC BY-NC-ND)

"This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially."

Public Domain (CC-0)

"CC0 enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright- or database-protected content to waive those interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law."

Source:  "About the Licenses" - Creative Commons >
Source: "CC0" - Creative Commons

Source: Creative Commons Wiki - Licensing

Permissive vs. Restrictive Licensing

While open licensing systems facilitate sharing, attaching a more permissive license to your work will reduce the likelihood of an accidental copyright violation. Attaching an Attribution (CC BY) license to your work will likely result in your work being shared more broadly, and it will give more flexibility to those who might want to build upon or incorporate your work down the road.

Review Open Oregon's guide to attributions when remixing OER content from multiple sources. 

Permissive Licensing

Attribution (CC BY)

The most permissive license is the Attribution (CC-BY) license. This license stipulates that those who reuse or remix your work only have to attribute you (as the original author) in future iterations of that work.

 Public Domain (CC0)

When you assign a Public Domain license to your work, you're relinquishing all copyright to that work. There is no Attribution requirement when using Public Domain materials. While your work may be shared broadly, you will not be given credit.

Restrictive Licensing

  Attribution-Share-Alike (CC BY-SA)

  Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike(CC BY-NC-SA)

Share Alike (SA) Licenses can make it impossible for others to remix and adapt other works. The SA license stipulates that any adaptation of a work must use the exact same license terms as the original work.

If you wanted to combine two learning objects with different SA license versions (3.0 vs. 4.0), it would be impossible because your adaptation of that work would have to adhere to both licensing versions simultaneously.

  Attribution-NoDerivatives (CC BY-ND)

  Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (CC BY-NC-ND)

No-Derivatives (ND) licenses stipulate that no group or individual can create iterations of your work. You work can she shared and attributed, but it cannot be remixed or revised to create new works.

Spectrum of Licensing

"Understanding Free Cultural Works", Creative Commons, CC-BY-4.0


Profile Photo
Erik Christiansen

Phone: 403.440.5168
Office: EL4423C