Skip to main content

Open & Alternative Educational Resources: Why "Open"?

A guide for finding openly licensed textbooks, publicly-available databases, and other educational resources

Apply Today!

Open lock with Clemson tiger paw logoThe Clemson University Libraries, with funding from the IT Student Advisory Board (ITSAB) and support from Clemson Online and the Undergraduate Student Government (CUSG), seek proposals for the implementation of Open Educational Resources into existing Clemson courses. In order to support affordable learning across campus and improve student outcomes, we are offering $2,000 to one faculty member in each college to assist with course revisions.

Apply today using the link below:

Quick Links

What's an "OER"?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are any type of learning materials (e.g., textbooks, videos, assignments, tests, lectures, rubrics, etc.) that are freely distributed under an open license. This open licensing, enabled by Creative Commons, grants various legal permissions. In short:

"Open" = Free + Permissions

Ideally, these permissions include the legal rights to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the material. These "5R" permissions set OER apart from other materials that are freely available online but cannot legally be copied or transformed. In contrast, open licensing lets users:

  1. Retain - make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse - use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise - adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate into another language)
  4. Remix - combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., a mashup)
  5. Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy to a friend)

This material is based on original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at

Open & Alternative Resources: A Spectrum of Rights

Openly licensed resources offer an alternative to restrictive -- and automatically applied! -- copyright protections that limit how we can use most educational materials, while still protecting and crediting the intellectual property of hard-working authors and creators. Learn more about copyright by following this link:

Did you know?

Students report that the cost of required textbooks have caused them to:

  1. Not purchase the required textbook (66.5%)
  2. Take fewer courses (47.6%)
  3. Not register for a specific course (45.5%)
  4. Earn a poor grade (37.6%)
  5. Drop a course (26.1%)
  6. Fail a course (19.8%)

Image: OER Logo from UNESCO

It's not just about the money...

With OER, educators can not only increase students' access to materials by removing cost barriers; they can also customize, update, and combine materials to best serve their pedagogical goals.