Open Educational Resources

Das „Global OER Logo“ von Jonathas Mello unter CC BY 3.0
OER Global Logo by 2012 Jonathas Mello is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License (CC BY 3.0) via UNESCO

OER (= Open Educational Resources) are now also a major topic in Germany and are discussed in many university projects (s. BMBF compilation 2016).

In November 2019, during the 40th UNESCO General Conference, the Recommendation on OER was adopted - the UNESCO member states thus commit themselves to anchor OER more firmly in national educational policy and practice (Further Information and link to OER Recommendation via OERinfo).

What are OER?

  •  In 2012, the first UNESCO World Congress on OER adopted the following definition in the Paris Declaration: OER are „Lehr-, Lern- und Forschungsressourcen in Form jeden Mediums, digital oder anderweitig, die gemeinfrei sind oder unter einer offenen Lizenz veröffentlicht wurden, welche den kostenlosen Zugang sowie die kostenlose Nutzung, Bearbeitung und Weiterverbreitung durch Andere ohne oder mit geringfügigen Einschränkungen erlaubt (…)“
  • The HRK Senate Decision on OER has made it easier to understand  (p. 2): "Open Educational Resources (OER) sind frei verfügbare Lehrmaterialien, die alle Teilnehmenden nutzen, nachbearbeiten, neu zusammensetzen und weiterverbreiten können. Dabei kann die Nutzung durch abgestufte Lizenzen eingeschränkt werden.“
  • According to Wiley 2014 the "Open" feature is the "5R": "Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute“. Depending on the type of CC license granted, however, there may be restrictions: The authors could exclude commercial use of their works (attribute "NC") or prohibit modifying (attribute "ND") - It is controversial whether these are still "real" OERs.
  • OER has a whole range of possible forms and formats: pictures, worksheets, exercises, presentations, course plans, video recordings of individual lectures, lessons and courses, textbooks, etc.
  • OER can be found either on dedicated OER portals or often within topic-specific or media-specific websites / portals on the Internet. OER can be recognized by the Creative Commons markings (CC BY, etc.) in the material. The special search "CC Search" on the Creative Commons website may also be helpful for pictures/photos: (s. for further information on CC Search).
    Google Advanced Search lets you customize the "Usage Rights" filter.

Advantages of OER

  • OER enable / support open learning scenarios
  • Time savings because you can build on existing resources
  • The subsequent usage of OER eliminates the costs of negotiating rights of use
  • The content can also be used outside the university and promote lifelong learning
  • Students can be involved in selection and adaptation of OER
  • Creating target-group specific offers for students (translations, etc.)
  • Collaboration with various partners - collaborative creation of learning materials
  • Various media types and formats can be mixed

The CC licenses (= Creative Commons licenses) in detail

Here is a detailed description and a "License Chooser" for your new learning material:

CC-BY CC BY (Namensnennung)
CC-BY-SA CC BY-SA (Namensnennung und Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen)
CC-BY-ND CC BY-ND (Namensnennung und Keine Bearbeitung)
CC-BY-NC CC BY-NC (Namensnennung und Nicht kommerziell)
CC-BY-NC-SA CC BY-NC-SA (Namensnennung und Nicht kommerziell und Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen)
CC-BY-NC-ND CC BY-NC-ND (Namensnennung und Nicht kommerziell und Keine Bearbeitung)

Buttons from Creative Commons,,


  • Would you like to include different OER sources in a new learning material? Then you have to pay attention to which combinations are allowed and as the new CC license of your material, the most restrictive of the individual OER components must be used.
  • Note: Wikipedia content is always under CC BY-SA and may not be mixed by you in a new material with OERs containing the limiting attributes "NC" or "ND"!
  • For example, if you want to use three existing images in a presentation, one under CC BY and two under CC BY-SA, the license for your presentation must be CC BY-SA.
  • Support for remix combinations is available from the License Compatibility Chart:

Specify license correctly (= attribution)

  •  If an OER material is reused, the following aspects should be mentioned: title of the re-used material, author (possibly with link), source (with link), license (CC variant with link to CC text).
    Examples can be found here:
    Good hints for the correct usage of OER images can be found here:
  • If an OER material is changed during re-use, comments should be made. Information can be referenced „This work (xy), is a derivative of (…)" and then specified under which License to put the new work. Please note: If the original OER has the attribute "ND", you may only use the material as it is!
  • If you use several OER materials in your learning material, the respective CC license with title, author, source, license must be clearly indicated in the respective places.
  • Example: You use individual OER images in a new video and then insert a slide with the respective license information directly into the video. If you are publishing such a video on YouTube, please do not use the standard YouTube license and specify the exact CC license.
  • If you want to reuse images from Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons, the „Attribution Generator“ helps you to create the correct citation method..
  •  See this FAQ by for more information and examples of identifying CC material:



Where can I publish my new OER materials? Publication on ZOERR  (=Zentrales Repositorium für Open Educational Resources)

There are different possibilities: Often either topic-specific (national / international) portals or format-specific portals that offer OER are suitable.


Go to ZOERR: 

Quick Guide for Authors & FAQ:


2019 MWK OER Broschüre

MWK Brochure "OER - Informationen für Hochschullehrende zur Nutzung und Veröffentlichung von OER" (September 2019)

Baden-Württemberg is establishing a central OER repository and therefore offers lecturers from BW the free, low-tech, publication of OER. The pilot operation was launched on 10.11.2017. (s. Report at 2017), since December 2018 the regular operation applies.


Further Reading


Selected courses and self-learning material



In 2019, the ELC has offered two course dates on the topic of OER in the "Internes Bildungsprogramm der Universität Heidelberg".
On November 21, 2019, InFoDiTex hosted an ELC introductory presentation on the topic of OER (s. slides)




Responsible: E-Learning-Center
Latest Revision: 2020-12-10
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