Open educational resources (OERs)

Open Educational Resources (OERs) refers to the sharing of digital educational materials in online spaces. Such spaces may be structured purpose-built repositories, social media channels, or other platforms in the cloud. In research terms, discussion of the design, use and sharing of OERs has been situated within the open education movement. Open Education includes open scholarship, open pedagogy, open data, open courses and open access publishing, as well as open educational resources and most recently the MOOC (massive open online course). OER has come to supersede the term ‘learning object’. UNESCO formally defined the term ‘Open Educational Resource’ in 2002 at a Forum on Open Courseware:

[t]he open provision of educational resources, enabled by information and communication technologies, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes (2002: 24)

In terms of hosting and dissemination, there are a wide range of systems used for resource management e.g. conventional repository systems such as DSpace and EPrints; repository systems that have been created or adapted for managing learning resources, such as EdShare or IntraLibrary; courseware platforms; virtual learning environments such as Moodle, adapted for open access; RSS Aggregators; Web 2.0 services such as YouTube, SlideShare and Flickr; and WordPress.


Focused Research Report Number 1, National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning – available at

UNESCO (2002). Forum on the impact of open courseware in higher education for developing countries: final report. Accessed 2nd April 2015



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