Skip to Main Content

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Guide to identifying open textbooks and open educational resources. Information about UWM's Open Textbook initiative.

Guides and Tools

What content can I use in an OER remix?

Remixes can include materials with open licenses, materials under Fair Use, materials in the public domain, and original content. Understanding how these items can work together will give open education creators the most possible elements to create their resources.

Difference between open license, public domain and all rights reserved copyright by Boyoung Chae is licensed under CC-BY 4.0.

Difference between open license, public domain and all rights reserved copyright by Boyoung Chae is licensed under CC-BY 4.0.

The term “public domain” includes those materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. No individual owns these works; rather, they are owned by the public. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission and without citing the original author, though it's good practice to cite the original author whenever possible.

Guide to finding interesting public domain works online

Fair Use, covered under U.S Copyright Code,17 § 107, allows for people to use copyrighted content with requiring permission.  Educational use is specifically listed as one of these acceptable circumstances, though users need to balance four factors:1) the purpose and character of the use, 2) the nature of the copyrighted work, 3) the amount and substantiality of the portion of the work in relation to the whole, and 4) the effect of the use upon the potential market.


Additional Resources

Where do I find content to remix?

Open Education Resources are more than just textbooks. They include curriculum maps, course materials, textbooks, streaming videos, multimedia applications, podcasts, and any other materials that have been designed for use in teaching and learning. You can access simulations, labs, and illustrations that can be reused in slides, handbooks, and other materials. Other repositories have lesson plans, quiz banks, worksheets and slide presentations.

Visit the OER Science Content and OER Humanities Content pages for ideas and additional resources.

Use OASIS to search for open educational resources you can incorporate in your Canvas course site free of Copyright restrictions.

Openly Available Sources Integrated Search (OASIS) is a meta-search tool for open educational resources including textbooks, podcasts, simulations, videos and other supplemental learning activities. 

Search: Mason OER Metafinder

The Mason OER Metafinder helps you find Open Educational Resources. OER Metafinder launches a real-time, simultaneous search across 21 different sources of open educational materials as you hit the Search button. A distinct feature of the Mason OER Metafinder is the scope of our discovery service.  We’re searching well-known OER repositories like OpenStaxOER CommonsMERLOT but also sites like HathiTrustDPLAInternet Archive and NYPL Digital Collections where valuable but often overlooked yet often “open” educational materials may be found.

Additionally the OER Metafinder allows user to do a deeper websearch. The numerous and varied results makes the Mason OER Metafinder and ideal search tool for Performing Arts and Humanities courses.

Resources like Google Image Search, Youtube, and Flicker all have ways to search for resources using open licenses.

YouTube + Filter for Creative Commons

A search in YouTube for resources that are licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons.

Google Image Search + Usage Rights

The Google feature called "search tools" will allow you to limit your search by type of reuse license.

Flickr CC Licensed images

Flickr's Creative Commons interface