What to consider when creating an OER

When creating an Open Education Resource (OER) it’s helpful to keep in mind who the audience is and what the purpose is of your OER.

Check, do you have copyright permission to share all the assets you include in the resource? Have you looked for openly licensed images online and copied over the licence information with the image to show that you can use it?

Are you likely to need to offer alternative formats for those people who find certain resources hard to access because of visual impairment, dyslexia, mental health conditions or other special requirements? For example, if you are uploading a video will it include a transcript? If your resource includes images have they been alt tagged with descriptions for a screen reader?

Open Education Resource Policy Guidance

  1. It is the responsibility of staff and students to ensure that they have the necessary rights to publish an OER and that all resources published comply with all relevant policies (e.g. copyright, IPR, accessibility).
  2. Staff and students are advised to publish OERs using a Creative Commons attribution licence (CC BY). Other Creative Commons licences (for example to add a non-commercial use or share-alike element) may be used if the creators feel this is necessary or appropriate for their particular resource, or to comply with the license of any third party content used in the resource.
  3. When creating and publishing OERs, the copyright owner(s), author(s), date and Creative Commons licence applied must be visibly attributed. The copyright owner will normally be the University of Edinburgh for OERs created at the University. Author(s) should also be properly acknowledged, giving recognition for work undertaken, along with date and Creative Commons licence applied so that others can clearly understand what permissions for reuse are being granted. An example of good attribution would be:  © [Author Name], University of Edinburgh 2020 CC BY
  4. The University recommends that written and interactive digital teaching resources should be published in an appropriate repository or public-access website in order to maximise discovery and use by others. Where OERs have been created as part of an externally funded activity, any storage and/or repository locations mandated as a condition of the funding should be used.
  5. The University recommends that audio/video based OER teaching resources should be published in the University’s multimedia repository, Media Hopper Create.
  6. Staff and students are encouraged to collect data where possible on usage of their OERs for: quality assurance mechanisms (e.g. module/programme review); staff recognition, reward and progression; or recognition of a student’s portfolio-of-work.
  7. Where students are producing OERs as part of their programme of study or within a staff-directed project, these guidelines should be followed and OERs should be checked by a member of staff before publication.


Can I apply an open licence to a work I create using CC licensed resources made by others?

You may apply a copyright statement and licence to any resources you have created yourself. The University’s Open Education Resources policy encourages the use of Creative Commons licences on learning and teaching materials where appropriate.

If you are applying a Creative Commons licence to your own resource, you must ensure any third-party content you include in the resource (e.g. images, media, etc.) has been released under a compatible open licence or is in the public domain.

For example, if you create a video that includes some media that is in the public domain, some on an Attribution license, and others with a Share Alike licence, your new resource must be shared under the most restrictive of these. In this case that would be a Share Alike licence.


Except where otherwise indicated this resource ©Charlie Farley, University of Edinburgh, 2020, is shared under a CC BY-SA licence.

Using Materials with a Non-Commercial Licence

Think carefully before including materials in your resource that are under a Creative Commons non-commercial licence, which can come in any of the variations including CC BY-NC, CC BY NC-SA, or CC BY-NC-ND. This is because non-commercial licences prohibit the sharing of an otherwise openly licensed resource on any platform with a for-profit element.

Using Materials with a Non-Derivative Licence

When using materials under a Creative Commons Non-derivative licence, it is important to ensure you adhere to this licence by making sure the relevant material is completely unchanged – you cannot make any alterations, including cropping.

License your Own Work

It is important to remember to apply a licence to your OER once it has been completed. It is worth thinking carefully about what licence to release your OER under due to the impact this will have on the way the OER is used.

Think carefully about who and how you may want your resource to be used and shared. If you are considering applying a Non-Commercial licence to your work to prevent anyone from using it in something they will require other people to pay to access, you may find that applying a Share-Alike licence to your work will meet your needs by ensuring that any new work created must also be made freely available on the same licence for others to use and re-mix.

The information on this page is also available as a PDF: What to consider when creating an OER (PDF 80kb)