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3.1 OER repositories

There are many repositories of OERs publicly available on the internet. A large proportion of these showcase OERs associated with particular educational institutions or projects, but there are several repositories which aggregate material from a range of sources. Here is a list of some of them – an internet search for ‘OER repositories’ will reveal more.

  • Solvonauts [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] – a search engine that searches across repositories (they also provide open repository software for institutions wanting to set up their own repository of OER).
  • MERLOT – tens of thousands of discipline-specific learning materials, learning exercises, and content builder webpages, together with associated comments, and bookmark collections, all intended to enhance the teaching experience of using a learning material. All of these items have been contributed by the MERLOT member community, who have either authored the materials themselves, or who have discovered the materials, found them useful, and wished to share their enthusiasm for the materials with others in the teaching and learning community.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare – a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OpenCourseWare (OCW) is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.
  • OpenLearn – a repository of open materials produced by The Open University, who also work with other organisations by providing free courses and resources that support their mission of opening up educational opportunities to more people in more places.
  • OpenStax – tens of thousands of learning objects, organised into thousands of textbook-style books in a host of disciplines, all easily accessible online and downloadable (note: this resource was formerly known as Rice Connexions).
  • Saylor – nearly 100 full-length courses at the college and professional levels, each of which is available right now – at your pace, on your schedule, and free of cost.
  • AMSER: Applied Math and Science Education Repository – a portal of educational resources and services built specifically for use by those in Community and Technical Colleges, but free for anyone to use.
  • Internet Archive – a library that contains hundreds of free courses, video lectures, and supplemental materials from universities in the United States and China.
  • OER Commons – free-to-use learning and teaching content from around the world.
  • Open Course Library – a collection of shareable course materials, including syllabi, course activities, readings, and assessments designed by teams of college faculty, instructional designers, librarians, and other experts.

Google Image Search

Within the settings on a Google Image Search results page, you can search for images that have been labelled for reuse. First perform your search, and when your results page shows, click on the Tools drop-down. This brings up a new toolbar of options, one of which is ‘Usage rights’ - if you click on this you can select either ‘Labelled for reuse’ or ‘Labelled for reuse with modification’ according to your preferences. (You can also select images according to size, colour and time of publication, if you wish). Your results window should refresh. Now, in theory, the images showing should be reusable. However, this does not mean that you can simply copy and paste without attribution. When you find an image in your Google results that you would like to use, click on it, and a black bar will appear, featuring the option to visit the originating site. Click this link – hopefully the hosting site will make clear what reuse licensing options apply to the image. If it does not, then you should not use that image, as simply attributing it may not be sufficient to protect you from breach of copyright.


Beneath every video on YouTube is a ‘Show More’ link. When clicked, the licence attached to the video is revealed. Some videos have a Creative Commons licence attached (this is an option the uploader can select when putting their video onto YouTube). However, most have the default Standard YouTube Licence, which says you ‘shall not copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective licensors of the Content’. So if you wish to reuse Youtube videos that have the Standard YouTube Licence, your only course of action is to attempt to contact the uploader to gain permission.

YouTube does provide a setting to filter your search results to only show videos bearing a CC licence. First perform a search for videos on the theme of your choice, then select the ‘Filter’ option. Under the heading ‘Features’ there is the option ‘Creative Commons’, which reduces your results list to only videos that have a CC licence attached.


Beneath every video on Vimeo is a ‘More’ link. If the uploader has attached a licence to their video, the type of licence that applies will be listed here. If no licence is stated, you must assume that the work cannot be reused without express permission from the uploader, and you should try to contact them if you wish to reuse the material. You can narrow down a search within the Vimeo site to show only CC-licenced videos. First perform your search using the main search box. When you have a results page, under ‘Refine By’ in the left hand column, click ‘More’. Scrolling down should reveal a Licence section where you can filter your search results according to which CC licences apply to your planned usage of the video.


Flickr makes it very clear which images you can reuse and which you cannot. When you perform a search in the Flickr website, the most prominent drop-down filter option on the results page is ‘Any License’ which, by means of a drop-down menu, can be changed to filter results for a variety of Creative Commons options. Every image on Flickr has beneath it either a © symbol or a CC symbol, and clicking this will bring up the precise terms of use for that image.

If you wish to keep in touch with developments regarding OER and become part of the community, sign up for the OpenLearn newsletter. Several courses are available from The Open University that go into greater detail about this area. More information on these courses will be provided in the course conclusion at the end of Week 8.

Activity _unit6.3.1 Activity 3 Using OER repositories

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Pick a topic of interest to you and spend some time searching for resources on this. Try to make use of both an OER repository from the bulleted list at the top of this page, as well as one of the other sites explored above.

Try to find one or two resources from your search, then take a few minutes to consider:

  1. The quality of this resource:
    • Who created it?
    • Does it look to be accurate and well presented?
    • Are there any reviews or information from educators who have used it?
  2. The appropriateness of this resource to your audience:
    • Does it need editing or introducing?
    • Would it combine well with any other materials that are used?
  3. The licence:
    • Is it clear how the resource is licensed?
    • What does this allow you to do with it?
    • Do you need to attribute or ask for any permissions?
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Hopefully you have found something that you think could be useful, but you might also have realised that for some subjects, there is a lot out there and it takes time to find the most suitable resources.

Considering quality, appropriateness, and licensing issues as you search for resources will help you save time, and increase the benefit of drawing on resources created by others.

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