Introduction to OERs

The open education movement is not new. Terms such as learning objects, open educational resources and digital educational learning materials have been around and used in educational settings for twenty-plus years or more. Open education can trace its roots to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations in 1948, which states “everyone has a right to education.”

The 2007 Cape Town Open Education Declaration states that open education and the use of open educational resources (OER) contribute “to making education more accessible, especially where the money for learning materials is scarce. They also nourish the kind of participatory culture of learning, creating, sharing and cooperation that rapidly changing knowledge societies need.”

In 2012, the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration [pdf] recommended that governments “promote and use OER to widen access to education at all levels, both formal and non-formal, in a perspective of lifelong learning, thus contributing to social inclusion, gender equity and special-needs education.”


Open education encompasses a set of practices directed at making the process and products of education more transparent, understandable and available to all. Open education seeks to make education more accessible, affordable, and inclusive through the use of open educational resources. Throughout this module participants will gain an understanding of open educational resources and the impact they have when producing, sharing and building knowledge.[1]


silhouette icon of a dark blue pencil within a golden outline of a square that has rounded corners Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the role of OER within open education, including the principles and implications for promoting accessible and inclusive learning
  2. Identify where and how to find open educational resources in various repositories
  3. Recognize the difference between “free” and open
  4. Identify how to enhance student engagement and academic success through the integration of open educational resources

  1. This introduction is an adaptation from Open UBC and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


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