Skip to Main Content

Faculty and Staff Library Resources and Services

This guide gathers resources to assist faculty and staff in using Western's library tools, resources, and services.

What is OER?

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are instructional materials that are fully accessible and 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

This is the DOERS3 definition of OER, adapted from the Hewlett Foundation definition of OER. It is reused here thanks to a Creative Commons-Attribution license.

This video is an adaptation of ‘What is OER?’ from The Council of Chief State School Officers under CC-BY-4.0. Featuring Barbara Soots, Layla Bonnot, Katie Steen and Nicole Allen

What makes something open?

The terms "open content" and "open educational resources" describe any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like "open source") that is either (1) in the public domain or (2) licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities.

The 5R Activities:

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

Creators often use Creative Commons licenses to clearly define what is and is not allowed. 

This explanation was created by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at

Additional resources providing more information and background on OER

OER @ the Western Library

Open Educational Resources can be a great tool for you and for students, but there are so many out there! 

Your librarians are happy to help you in searching for Open Educational Resources (and other learning resources that you can use legally). Reach out to them ( if you would like assistance with:

  • Finding potential OER textbook options for your discipline or course
  • Locating additional resources, articles, or media for your classes
  • Understanding copyright restrictions of media or content you find online
  • Remixing or adapting OER so its relevant for your students

For background information on Open Educational Resources or for ideas on using open resources, please visit our guide on Open Educational Resources:

You can get started with searching for OER and DRM-free library ebooks using Faculty Select:

Western Technical College

Western Technical College Learning Commons
Student Success Center, Room 201
400 7th Street North
La Crosse, WI 54601
State Relay: 711
EEO Statement

Learn more about Western and the Learning Commons.
The Learning Commons provides library and academic support services on campus and online. The Learning Commons will set you up for success!

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. For details and exceptions, see the Library Copyright Statement.
©2023, Western Technical College

If you are experiencing disability related accessibility issues with any information on this website, please email or call 608-785-9524.