Skip to Main Content

Open Educational Resources for Faculty

This guide contains information and resources for adopting, adapting, and building Open Educational Resources for your courses at SUNY Geneseo.

The 5 "R"s

The terms "open content" and "open educational resources" describe any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like "open source") that is licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

  1. Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse - the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix - the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

It is crucial to note the distinction between "Free" and "Open"; without the 5 R's, free content is not actually open. "Fauxpen" materials can include library materials, some rights reserved materials, and other content that feels open but is not.

This material is based on original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at

Learning About Open Educational Resources

The Importance of Open Practices

Copyright and Open Content

There are a number of ways that a material can become open; two of the most common are the public domain and Creative Commons licenses. Materials in the public domain are out from under the protection of copyright and can be used with impunity, but can be difficult to find. Creative Commons licenses, on the other hand, are a voluntary method for a content creator to bypass traditional copyright and to grant greater privileges to those wishing to use their work.

"Creative Commons Kiwi" by plccanz is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Choosing Creative Commons

Choosing a Creative Commons license for your own original works will allow others share, use, and remix following your work.  The Creative Commons organization lists the following considerations when choosing a Creative Commons license.  Read more

Before Licensing

  • Make sure your work is copyrightable
  • Make sure you have the rights
  • Make sure you understand how Creative Commons licenses operate
  • Be specific about what you are licensing
This material is adapted from the Public Domain and Creative Commons LibGuide by David Cirella (with permission)

Types of Licenses


Types of Licenses

Attribution iconAttribution means:
This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials. This is often referred to as CC By (for "By author"), and is the most open of the licenses.

Noncommercial iconNoncommercial means:
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial,

No Derivative Works iconNo Derivative Works means:
This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you

Share Alike iconShare Alike means:
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.  This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

This material is adapted from the Public Domain and Creative Commons LibGuide by David Cirella (with permission)