Open Educational Resources



Open educational resources (OER) are educational materials—text, audio, video, images, and more—that are in the public domain or shared under an open license, such as a Creative Commons license. Depending on the license, OER can be copied, revised, remixed, adapted, and shared. OER comes in many genres, including syllabi, curricula, lecture notes, quizzes and exams, animation, and even entire textbooks.

More information about OER is available in the Albertsons Library LibGuide to OER, which explains what Open Educational Resources are and provides numerous examples, including collections and open textbooksimage and video resources, and library resources and services. Also included in the LibGuide is an introduction to Creative Commons, which offers “free, easy-to-use copyright licenses [that] provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. Creative Common licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of ‘all rights reserved’ to ‘some rights reserved.'”

In a hurry? Read “7 Things You Should Know About Open Educational Resources,” part of the 7 Things Series from EDUCAUSE.


There are many ways to find OER to use in your courses.

  • You can go directly to one of the OER repositories listed below. Here you’ll find all kinds of materials created with university students and instructors in mind.
  • You can use the Creative Commons search engine to locate materials that have been licensed for revision, remix, and/or reuse.
  • You can find additional materials online that may be in the public domain. So, for example, most of the content and multimedia created by the U.S. government is in the public domain (though some materials on government websites may be licensed from elsewhere); so are materials published in the U.S. prior to 1923.

The resources listed below are databases of OER available online. Some of the OER is peer-reviewed and available to use in educational settings, free of charge. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of repositories. There may be other such repositories available in your discipline, so consider asking your colleagues or your instructional design consultant in the IDEA Shop if they can point you to discipline-specific repositories.


Albertsons Library LibGuide to Open Educational Resources
An explanation of OER and numerous examples, including collections, textbooks, and image and video repositories.

Albertsons Library Video Resources
Access to video databases to which Boise State’s library subscribes, as well as other resources for finding free video clips on the web.

Albertsons Library Image Resources
Find still images (pictures, drawings, photographs, etc.). Also includes information about citing still images in scholarly works.

Albertsons Library LibGuides
Guides to a wide variety of resources, cataloged by subject, type, or owner, ranging from LibGuides on 3D Printing to Biomedical Science to Criminal Justice to individual courses at Boise State.

Annenberg Media –
Discovery learning programming, including audio and video clips, for educational use. Free sign-up is required for first-time users.

Khan Academy
A large and growing collection of free video tutorials, with an emphasis on K-12 math but also offering science topics such as biology, chemistry, and physics and topics in the humanities. Each video is a digestible chunk, approximately 10 minutes long, and especially purposed for viewing on the computer.

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching)
MERLOT is a free and open resource designed primarily for faculty and students in higher education. With a continually growing collection of online learning materials, assignments and reviews, MERLOT helps faculty enhance instruction.

OpenCourseWare (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
MIT OCW has begun publishing online course materials that are available free of charge. They are aiming to have all of MIT’s course materials available over the web in a “single, searchable” structure. Currently, the course materials are listed by course and are not searchable.

OER Commons
OER Commons helps educators, students, and lifelong learners find Open Educational Resources through a single point of access from which they can search, browse, and evaluate resources in OER Common’s growing collection of 50,000 high-quality OER.

TED (Ideas Worth Sharing)
A free, moderated collection of speeches on a variety of topics by notable and unknown speakers. Also includes musical and other performances.

Wisconsin Online Resource Center
Small but useful database of Learning Objects, searchable by discipline area

User-created video content on every subject known to man. Increasingly, videos useful for education can be found here. You might also check out, although this tends to be mostly appropriate to the K-12 sector.

SoftChalk Media Repositories Directory
A listing of multimedia repositories provided by the SoftChalk company. Although their intent is for media found to be embedded in lessons created with SoftChalk, these media can also be embedded in a Blackboard course site.


ChemWiki: The Digital Chemistry Hypertext
Directed by Professor Delmar Larsen (University of California, Davis), ChemWiki is a collaborative approach toward chemistry education where an Open Access textbook environment is constantly being written and re-written by students and faculty members resulting in a free Chemistry textbook to supplant conventional paper-based books.

The Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE)
DLESE offers easy access to high quality educational resources about the Earth system. The library is governed and developed by a broad community of Earth science educators, and serves the needs of K-16 learners, in both formal and informal venues. (down)

The National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education Digital Library (NSDL)
Now under construction with funding from the National Science Foundation. “The NSDL is likely to be the largest and most heterogeneous digital library yet built.”


Health Education Assets Library (HEAL)
Thousands of free, peer-reviewed digital materials for health sciences education.


Digital Scriptorium
The Digital Scriptorium is a growing image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts that unites scattered resources from many institutions into an international tool for teaching and scholarly research. It bridges the gap between a diverse user community and the limited resources of libraries by means of sample imaging and extensive rather than intensive cataloguing. Designed for use by paleographers, codicologists, art historians, textual scholars and other researchers.


Offers digital course packs, custom textbooks, copyright clearance, content development, and more.

Lumen Learning
Lumen Learning helps institutions transition high-enrollment courses to open educational resources by building and supporting Candela Open Courses, the high quality open courseware designed collaboratively with partner institutions.