What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Education Resources (OERs) are online resources that are available for others to use to support learning.  They are part of a worldwide movement to promote and support sustainable educational development – the use of the term ”OER” is attributed to a UNESCO workshop in 2002. The sharing of open educational materials is in line not only with University of Edinburgh’s mission but also with a global movement in which research-led institutions play a significant role.

The University of Edinburgh has an OER policy, which outlines the institutional position on OERs and provides guidelines for practice in learning and teaching. You can find the policy on the Academic Services, Policies page under Learning and Teaching, or link directly to the document here:

Where can I find OERs from The University of Edinburgh

Staff and students at the University are encouraged to create, licence, and share their own resources anywhere on the web that is suitable for whatever type of resource they create. A variety of these are showcased and linked to on our Edinburgh’s OER pages.

Accounts have also been created on a number of platforms to share resources that have been under the Open.Ed banner:

Media Hopper: Media Hopper is the University’s Media Asset platform. It provides all staff and students with a space that they can use to upload media and then publish to various places, including VLEs, Websites and social media channels.

TES Connect: TES Connect is an online platform where educators can discover and share original teaching materials. Its focus is on sharing materials for primary and secondary school, and up to early undergraduate, education levels.

Sketchfab: Sketchfab is the leading platform to publish and find 3D and VR content online.You can upload files in almost any 3D format, licence, and then embed them on any web page, and share them on other platforms like Tumblr, WordPress, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Wikimedia Commons: Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to everyone. It acts as a common repository for the various projects of the Wikimedia Foundation, but you do not need to belong to one of those projects to use media hosted here.

Flickr: Flickr is an online photo management and sharing platform with wide international use. Flickr provides the option of applying Creative Commons licences to any photographs uploaded to the platform.

YouTube: YouTube is the worlds largest online video sharing platform. YouTube offers two types of licences for videos uploaded to the platform, including the Creative Commons Attribution licence.


What is the University’s OER Vision?

The OER vision for University of Edinburgh has three strands, each building on our history of the Edinburgh Settlement, excellent education, research collections, enlightenment and civic mission.

For the common good

  • Teaching and learning materials exchange to enrich the University and the sector.
  • To put in place the support frameworks to enable any member of University of Edinburgh to publish and share online as OER teaching and learning materials they have created as a routine part of their work at the University.
  • To support members of University of Edinburgh to find and use high quality teaching materials developed within and without the University.

Edinburgh at its best

  • Showcasing openly the highest quality learning and teaching.
  • To identify collections of high quality learning materials within each school department and research institute to be published online for flexible use, to be made available to learners and teachers as open courseware (e.g. recorded high profile events, noteworthy lectures, MOOC and DEI course content).
  • To enable the discovery of these materials in a way that ensures that our University’s reputation is enhanced.

Edinburgh’s treasures

  • Making available online a significant collection of unique learning materials available openly to Scotland, the UK and the world, promoting health and economic and cultural well-being.
  • To identify a number of major collections of interdisciplinary materials, archives, treasures, museum resources to be digitised, curated and shared for the greater good and significant contribution to public engagement with learning, study and research (e.g. archive collections drawn from across disciplines, e.g. History of Medicine/Edinburgh as the birthplace of medicine/Scottish history/social change).
  • To put in place policy and infrastructure to ensure that these OER collections are sustainable and usable in the medium to longer term.

Why should you (as an educator) get involved with (using) OER?

Creation of OER has big benefits to individuals, educational institutions and society as a whole. If you are an educator it makes sense to create and use OER.

In Higher or Tertiary education, and for researchers, OER is not just about access to materials, but about making it possible (usually via open access models) to share materials more easily and creating platforms for more work to become visible (and therefore attract funding).

Why re-invent the wheel?
Teachers are responsible for creating great learning experiences, not (necessarily) for creating all the resources needed for this themselves. Reusing existing OER frees up time that can be spent on other aspects of the teaching and learning process. Their use can help you expand your range of teaching materials.

Raising your profile
Getting your materials out there as an educator can both help raise your profile and allow your resources to be improved by other users. You will improve your profile and impact, potentially collecting kudos/evidence towards promotion.

Take your resources with you
By making your teaching resources open you are also allowing yourself to take these materials with you when you move from one institution to another.

Improving your teaching
Creating OER will improve your practice by encouraging you to reflect. You will find people interested in and teaching/learning the same areas as you. Use and creation of OER facilitates looking outside your immediate environment and getting broader and different views on topic areas. You will learn new stuff which will reinvigorate your teaching.

Why you should get involved with (using) OER (as an educator)? was re-mixed from The Open Education Handbook licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (Unported) v3.0 (Attribution CC BY)

Case Study: Open Data as Open Educational Resources

Open Data as Open Educational Resources: Case studies of emerging practice, edited by Javiera Atenas and Leo Havemann London: Open Knowledge, Open Education Working Group, 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1590031

“The intention of this book is to showcase good practices in an approachable way that can be understood by those who are not necessarily very familiar with open data or data analysis, in order to promote the use of open data as OER to educators, researchers and other organisations”.  See more at: http://education.okfn.org/open-data-as-open-educational-resources-case-studies-of-emerging-practice/#sthash.PVGohj4n.dpuf


The information provided on this page is also available as a PDF: About Open.Ed and OERs (PDF 110kb)


To find out more on OERs visit the Open Education Resources Wiki.

To learn more about Scotland’s approach to OER read the Scottish Open Education Declaration