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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open educational practice in teaching

There are many ways to use and create OER in teaching. Open educational practices can start small such as the including OER in a unit without any changes (but always with an attribution) or you can adapt an existing resource to fit your need. You may want to create an open resource either on your own or in collaboration with other staff or students, that you then share with other educators.

The open licencing of OER enables many flexible and collaborative teaching and learning practices. The 5Rs of OER frame the adaptability of resources and these can be utilised not only to adapt and create new resources but to also develop active learning experiences for students.

What is Open Education?

Puzzle image with pieces identified with concepts contributing to open education including empowered learners, networked learning, OEP, OER, participatory technologies and collaborative practice

Puzzle background from Pixabay, overlay of concepts by Jenni Hayman, Public Domain


Open Education encompasses a number of concepts including Open Educational Practices and Open Pedagogy. It is more of an umbrella term covering the wider context of using open in teaching and learning.

Open educational practices (OEP) describes practices that include the creation, use, and reuse of open educational resources (OER) as well as open pedagogies and open sharing of teaching practices. (Cronin, 2017).

The current form of the Open Education movement stems from the Cape Town Open Education Declaration in 2007 : Unlocking the promise of open educational resources. The declaration describes open education as:


"not limited to just open educational resources. It also draws upon open technologies that facilitate collaborative, flexible learning and the open sharing of teaching practices that empower educators to benefit from the best ideas of their colleagues. It may also grow to include new approaches to assessment, accreditation and collaborative learning."


Open educational practices can support inclusivity and diversity in education by including varying viewpoints in resources, equity of access by removing cost barriers for students and provide opportunities for flexible and innovative teaching practices.

Further Reading

7 Things You Should Know About Open Education: Practices (Educause) - A quick overview of aspect of open education.

Open at the Margins - Critical perspectives of open education from 43 diverse authors.

What is Open Education? (Year of Open) -  A collection of responses from practitioners of open education.

Practical Guidelines on Open Education for Academics: modernising higher education via open educational practices (EU Publication by Inamorato dos Santos) - a deeper read discussing many dimensions of open education.

Open Pedagogy

Open Pedagogy in the literature has varied definitions. Open pedagogy broadly describes teaching and learning techniques made possible through open licencing (Clinton Lisell, 2021). Open pedagogy can include activities such as adapting an open resource to your need, creating learning experiences for students interacting and modifying open resources or the creation of new open resources by academics and/or students.

For an examination of using open pedagogy in teaching, watch this section of a webinar by Catherine Cronin ( From 21:47 for about 3 minutes to 24:27). This full video is a great discussion of  equity in education if you have the time.

What is Open?

It may be confusing to consider a practice that has a fluid definition. When we consider "Open", this gives an idea of the complexity. Open can be many things - openly accessible, open as in free of cost, open for use (adaptable) - and so open education can mean different things to different practitioners.

Open Pedagogy in practice

Open pedagogy opens up many opportunities for learning activities such as:

  • Educators and students using open resources
  • Educators and students remixing open texts to create customised resources
  • Students annotating or editing open texts
  • Students creating questions based on an open text
  • Students developing ideas that can be made into open resources

Further Reading

Open Pedagogy Approaches - A discussion of open pedagogy as textbook replacement, open student projects and open course design.

Tools to Promote Open Pedagogy in the Classroom (Aldridge, 2022) - A collection of techniques, tools and examples of open pedagogy.

Open Pedagogy chapter in Teaching in a digital age 2ed. (Bates, 2019) - Discussion on the attributes of open pedagogy.

Renewable Assessment

David Wiley, (Chief Academic Officer of Lumen Learning) developed the idea of disposable and renewable assessments. A disposable assessment is any assessment where students will do the work, faculty will grade the work and then students will throw away the work. A renewable assessment is any assessment where students will do the work, faculty will grade the work but the the work is inherently valuable to someone beyond the class and so the work is openly published so those other people can find and use (5R) it. (Adapted from Notes on Open Pedagogy by David Wiley CC BY 4.0)

Renewable assessment can take many forms from students editing to update an open resources, students creating info sheets  or contributing to an open book on a topic. The renewable assessment framework can guide the development of a renewable assessment. This framework includes the following steps:

Arrow image progressing through the steps of creating a renewable assessment: Step 1 Analyse and classify current assessment, Step 2 Consider meaningful OER contributions, Step 3 Select tools and repositories, Step 4 Design intentional negotiations for openness, Step 5 Finalise and reclassify assessment.

Image from Evolving into the open: a framework for collaborative design of renewable assessments in Open Pedagogy Approaches by Stacy Katz and Jennifer Van Allen CC BY 4.0 International

Tips for open practice

Collaborate with us

With the shared aim of meeting student learning outcomes, faculty and library staff can work together on searching & evaluating OER.

Search OER repositories

Search recognised OER repositories & aggregated content collections. Look at How to find OERs for platforms to search.

Consider access

Consider accessibility in your resource choice and know where to go for open licensing expertise.


Determine criteria

Criteria should incorporate learning objectives and outcomes, content quality, rigor, and even format. Refer to Evaluating OERs for help.


Adapted from The OER toolkit: Curating by  College Libraries Ontario CC BY 4.0 International Licence