What Are Open Educational Resources?
Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.
The term can include textbooks, course readings, and other learning content; simulations, games, and other learning applications; syllabi, quizzes, and assessment tools; and virtually any other material that can be used for educational purposes. OER typically refers to electronic resources, including those in multimedia formats, and such materials are generally released under a Creative Commons or similar license that supports open or nearly open use of the content. OER can originate from colleges and universities, libraries, archival organizations, government agencies, commercial organizations such as publishers, or faculty or other individuals who develop educational resources they are willing to share.
Each resource is issued under a license that spells out how it can be used: Some materials may only be used in their original form; in other cases, learning resources can be modified, remixed, and redistributed. OER are typically found in collections or repositories. These can be offerings from a single institution, such as when a college or university makes available online the resources from its courses, or they can be collections of materials gathered from individuals or departments from a wide range of separate institutions. Instructors and individual learners can download OER and use them in formal or informal learning situations, and one of the hallmarks of OER is their flexibility—many are modular in nature, allowing them to be used in novel combinations to suit particular learning activities. Because open resources are so malleable, they can be adapted to keep pace not only with new technologies but also with changes to academic disciplines and teaching methods. Depending on the resource, these updates might be made by the creator or by users of the resource.
From 7 Things You Should Know About Open Educational Resources by EDUCAUSE which is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.