Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Welcome to Learning Event 9 (#LE9): Reinventing the wheel

(Need more info about Learning Events in general? Visit the Learning Commons for a full description of this series.)

Learning Event 9 (#LE9) focuses using open educational resources (OER) and Creative Commons (CC) licensed materials in your courses. Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to. There is already a lot of great content out there for you to use. Find some great content, integrate it, cite it correctly, and remix it if needed.

Open learning is becoming a critical focus for classrooms from Pre-K up through higher education. Open learning is when learning occurs in a shared and transparent manner in which others can reuse, revise, remix or redistribute the evidence of learning with others. Open learning encourages collaboration, connections, networked learning and an interdependence between educators and learners.

The shift to open learning has led to many emerging practices related to open resources, open practices, and open scholarship.


Open Education Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license permitting their free use or re-purposing by others. UNESCO first defined the term in 2002 as teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution.

OER are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution under open licenses, such as a Creative Commons Copyright license in repositories or as stand-alone resources for reuse and re-purposing. CC licenses broaden rights from copyright holders to others in society who would like to make use of existing works such as books, courseware, images, video, animations or other resources that can be freely reused in educational settings.

They are “learning materials licensed in such a way as to freely permit educators to share, access, and collaborate in order to customize and personalize content and instruction.”

David Wiley noticed similarities between the growing open source movement and what was then referred to as open distance learning and posited five characteristics of “open” in OER:

  1. Retain—the right to make, own, and control a copy of the resource;
  2. Reuse—the right to reuse content in its unaltered, verbatim form;
  3. Revise—the right to adapt, adjust, modify or alter the content itself;
  4. Remix—the right to combine the original or revised content with other content to create something new;
  5. Redistribute—the right to make and share copies of the original content, revisions, or remixes with others.

Check out the materials presented below to learn and engage more!


Seven things you should know about Open Educational Resources – Educause. “OER typically refers to electronic resources, including those in multimedia formats, and such materials are generally released under a Creative Commons or similar license that supports open or nearly open use of the content.”

Open Educational Resources (OER): Resource Roundup – Edutopia. “High-quality OER can save teachers significant time and effort on resource development and advance student learning inside and outside the classroom. Further, open sharing of resources has the potential to fuel collaboration, encourage the improvement of available materials, and aid in the dissemination of best practices.”

A Practical Guide to Using Creative Commons Licenses – Wikimedia.In order to meet the varying needs of different publishing strategies, CC provides a set of six licenses and two public domain tools. Each license contains one or more of four basic elements (the “license features”) which are illustrated by abbreviations and pictograms.


Open Education Matters: Why is it important to share content? (3:31)

Why Open Education Matters (2:27)

Creative Commons licenses explained (5:32)


How can we deliver better learning experiences to more students using open learning and OER?


Use and cite OER in your courses to support instruction and provide more access and quality for students.


Identify, use, and cite Creative Commons (CC) licensed content in your courses. Consider licensing and sharing your own CC licensed content.

There are four key license elements, CC licenses are combinations of these elements. There are 6 CC licenses.

We would love to hear about what you created or implemented as a result of this Learning Experience! Please send an email to if you have something to share!