UMass Boston

About OER

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

Open Educational Resources are teaching and learning materials made available for free use and often with permission to modify and re-distribute. According to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, OER are defined as “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. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge”.

The Benefits of OER

Open Educational Resources provide a low-cost and flexible alternative to publisher textbooks for use in online and face-to-face classrooms. They allow instructors to (legally) pick from a wide collection of readily-available learning resources on the web and customize their teaching to their students’ needs while significantly reducing students’ schooling costs. It is estimated that 7 out of 10 students skip buying textbooks because of their high costs.


Materials are normally shared as Open Educational Resources under a Creative Commons license. The Creative Commons licenses make it easy to share and use OER by clearly specifying the requirements for attribution, reuse and modification. Learn more about Creative Commons. 

Creative Commons and Education: Visit the Creative Commons page on Education to learn more about Creative Commons licensing and find Open Educational Resources.

Myths about OER

Enforce your understanding of OER with a comprehensive list of misconceptions about OER provided by SPARC Open.

Explore OER

Visit our Find OER page for a list of OER sources. Also, use UMBrella to explore collections with learning materials available for free through Healey Library.

Contribute OER

Do you have course materials to share? Get in touch with our team at We will help you identify a platform and guide you in the process.

OER and Accessibility

OER materials are no different with regard to considerations for inclusivity and accessibility for all learners. Accessibility Toolkit 2nd Edition is an Open Educational Resource made available by BC Campus with detailed guidance on creating accessible content.

UMass Boston OpenCourseWare

UMass Boston OpenCourseWare (OCW) was a free and open educational resource made available for faculty, students, and self-learners worldwide. OCW is UMass Boston's early contribution to the Open Content Movement which opened the door to a multitude of ways that curriculum can be designed and educational materials can be constructed.

For more information visit the archived UMass Boston OpenCourseWare site.