Open Educational Resources

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Open Educational Resources (OERs) are digital replacements for textbooks available under some form of Free license, such as Creative Commons. There are many projects to create OERs, including the Sugar Labs Replacing Textbooks project, and projects of state and national governments, NGOs, professional associations, and individual contributors.

Most OERs are PDFs of existing content, including printed textbooks, but there are also innovative projects to produce interactive OERs using a variety of software, including Sugar, Logo, and Smalltalk, and to rethink educational content based on research into child development and computers in education. Much more research and development will be needed in this direction.

Globally, there is a need for OERs in several hundred subjects. Each country needs about 100 for 12 grades, usually divided into semesters, with five subjects taught at a time. Local content is needed for topics such as health, history, geography, literature, civics, and agriculture in more than 190 countries, some of which can share large portions. Materials for learning to speak, read, and write numerous languages are needed.

A rather different concept is Open Access Books, where a version of content is available at no cost, and another with additional services is available for a fee. In general, OAB products do not permit modification and republishing, although the choice of license is a hot topic for discussion. This is viewed in the publishing industry as a logical step forward from Open Access publishing of research journals, and is aimed at book-form research publications.


Public Domain OER logo from Wikimedia Commons

External Links


  • Bangladesh is the first country we know of to digitize a complete set of textbooks for grades 1-12. Resources listed below.
  • Uruguay is seeking up to 1,000 digital learning resources in a Request For Proposals (RFP). The Sugar Labs Replacing Textbooks program wanted to offer some to them, but it turned out to be impractical.
  • South Korea has announced a plan to digitize all of its textbooks and to provide all students with computers.

Sources and Directories

In no particular order, except that Bangladesh gets pride of place. Please add more if you find them. How do these facilities compare with one another?

  • Curriki free and open K-12 resources
  • Connexions free and open K-9 textbooks from the Shuttleworth Foundation's Siyavula project.
  • MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching)
  • LeMill Web community for finding, authoring and sharing open educational resources in multiple languages
  • Math Links - educators sharing interesting resources around the teaching and learning of mathematics

Commercial Publishers of OERs

It's true. Free OERs plus paid services.


Other OER Logos

UNESCO OER Logos under Creative Commons-BY-SA licenses permitting modifications, including further translations.

UNESCO OER logo.svg

UNESCO English OER logo


Remix of UNESCO English OER logo