Open Educational Resources (OER) FAQ

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Why should I be involved with OER?

“Open education is an attitude, a practice, and a method of teaching that inspires inquiry, equal access to course materials, and sharing lessons and materials with the wider community. At the center of open education is the belief that education is strengthened when shared openly” (CCCOER).

Learn more about “Why OER?” at

What is the difference between copyright-protected and openly-licensed material?

Most OER are licensed under Creative Commons licenses. Creative Commons allows creators to automatically allow permission to use their work in specific ways while still retaining copyright protection. More about Creative Commons, open licensing, and copyright can be found at  

Will CCC courses using OER instead of commercial textbooks still articulate to UC/CSU?

Yes, see:

Cool4Ed, a partnership between California Community Colleges (CCC), The California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) has developed a list of 50+ courses designed to articulate with free and open eTextbooks. The list of courses  which have been evaluated by CCC, CSU, and UC faculty for quality and by the CSULB Center for Usability in Design and Accessibility for accessibility can be found at

OpenStax textbooks are accepted by CSU and, generally, at UC. CCC/CSU articulation agreements include a field to indicate URL of open textbooks.  Send specific questions about articulation using other OER to your college’s articulation officer.

What is the difference between an eBook and an open textbook?

The table below outlines the similarities and differences between eBooks and open textbooks.

Feature eBooks open textbooks
PRINTING Some printing restrictions No printing restrictions
DEVICES Restriction on how many devices can access Can load on any number of devices
EXPIRATION Many expire after one or two semesters You can retain a copy indefinitely
PRICE Varies greatly and no resale value of hard copy Free online and usually $20-60 for hard copy

More about eBooks and open textbooks can be found at

Where can I learn more about accessibility and OER?

The Online Education Initiative (OEI) provides an extensive accessibility resource, with particular emphasis on creating accessible online materials.

Open Washington also offers an OER/accessibility learning module.

What is the difference between a MOOC and OpenCourseWare (OCW)?

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) are courses built to scale to accommodate many students. OpenCourseWare (OCW) refers to open teaching materials and is largely synonymous with Open Educational Resources (OER). Though open for students to freely enroll, MOOC’s are not as frequently intended to be offered by parties outside of the hosting institution and also may contain copyrighted content that are not openly licensed. OCW typically hold Creative Commons licensing, thus more open to be “remixed”, used, and distributed more freely. More about the similarities and differences between OCW and MOOC’s can be found at