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OER: Open Licensing of educational content

An enormous wealth of resources is available on the web that can be used for educational purposes. A lot of it can be accessed easily and for free, and a growing number of materials is explicitly licensed as OER. This means that such resources can not only be used for free, but are open: Truly open educational resources allow for full use, re-use, adaptation and re-sharing by learners and educators (see 5 R’s of Openness).

OER are defined as follows: “Open Educational Resources (OERs) are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation. ” (UNESCO, see also TVETipedia)

Licensing Resources for open use

The most widely used model for open licensing of resources has been created by the Creative Commons organization. The Creative Commons licensing model allows creators of works to keep their ownership yet at the same time defining under which conditions their work can be openly used. The following picture provides a good overview of the various CC licenses and the possibilities of combining them:

From: How To Attribute Creative Commons Photos by Foter, CC BY 3.0


This video by Creative Commons Qatar provides a good idea of open licensing with CC licenses:

Milestones in the OER movement


  • Creative Commons License Chooser
  • OER World Map: the OER World Map intends to be a kind of ‘operations room’ for the open education community by mapping relevant organisations, projects, people and services, allowing them to link up with each other. You are strongly encouraged to create an account and add your own OER projects.


This page is part of the Open Educational Resources in TVET service.



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