Not All Open Educational Resources Are Free

Are Open Educational Resources Free?

As long as there are teachers around, there will be a lot of sharing, which means binders of lesson plans, boxes of laminated hand-drawn math figures, and even some recycled art projects.

But due to the advance of the internet, and particularly the social media platform, the ability to develop, share, and adapt even complex curriculum materials has exploded.

What makes different sets of materials open, and how can schools use them to their best?

Are open educational resources free? Some open educational resources are free, but they are not all cost-free. One of the most cited benefits of using these resources is their potential to reduce costs. This may seem to bring down the total expenditures, but they are not at all cost-free.

In this short read, you will learn more about open educational resources and where you can find them to utilize them to the maximum.

What Are Open Educational Resources?

Open educational resources, most commonly known as OER, are different materials for teaching or learning either in the public domain or released under a special license.

As a result, this allows them to be freely used, changed, or shared with different individuals. OER can be in the form of a video or a lesson plan that will give you the complete syllabus of a particular online course or curriculum.

It can also include software platforms to create, change, and share all the materials.

The Difference Between OER and Online Materials

There are many differences between the two, but they are commonly mistaken as being the same thing. To better understand it completely, many materials can be tagged as OER, but they do not technically fall into that category.

Some materials are allowed to be shared and modified, but only by using a paid subscription service. As a result, this does not qualify as an OER.

On the other hand, that does not mean that OER has to be completely nonprofit. To make ongoing OER projects sustainable, some have allowed companies to offer organized packages of materials for a specific fee.


When it comes to OER, one of the most-cited benefits of using it is its potential to reduce costs. While it may seem to bring down the total expenditures, it is not entirely cost-free.

There are OER that can be assembled or reused from existing open resources. This is primarily the strength of OER but, at the same time, it can produce major cost savings.

This is because you don’t have to create OER from scratch. On the flip side, there are some costs in the assembly and adaptation process.


Overall, OER provides different cost structures and degrees of cost-efficiency. Upfront costs can be expensive because you build the OER infrastructure.

Remember that OER users must be careful about the fine print regarding how materials should be repurposed, adapted, or distributed.

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