Skip to Main Content

Research Guides

Open Education

A hub for information and links about OER, Open Educational Practices and Pedagogy, and Open Education activities and projects at U of T


This guide combines both an overview of open access with selective lists of major repositories of open educational resources such as open textbooks, open courseware, and other multimedia learning materials that can be used by students and faculty. 

Be sure to also check out the Scholarly Communications & Copyright homepage This link opens in a new tab which provides further support for U of T's course reserves and syllabus service, copyright and fair dealing, academic publications, licensing, and much more.  

  • OER stands for Open Educational Resources. They take many forms, including open textbooks, courses, and other learning content including animations, tutorials, videos, journal articles, and quizzes. OER can be used for teaching, learning, and research, and are usually available under a Creative Commons license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation, and redistribution by others.
  • Open courseware is an entire course, often at the college or university level, that can be accessed without charge over the Internet.  
  • Open textbooks are mostly peer-reviewed textbooks, at the college or university level, that can be accessed entirely free of charge over the Internet. Often, open textbooks are available to download in modifiable formats that allow instructors to make modifications. The goal behind adapting open textbooks is to significantly reduce student costs.   

The Budapest Open Access Initiative defines Open Access (OA) as the “free availability [of the material] on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

In order for a resource to qualify as Open Access, users should be able to:

  1. Reuse the content in a wide range of ways (i.e. in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  2. Revise, meaning to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (i.e. translate the content into another language) 
  3. Remix or combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new 
  4. Redistribute or share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others 
  5. Retain, make, own, and control copies of the content
"The 5Rs of Openness" by David Wiley is licensed under CC BY 4.0


For Students

Use this guide to locate free or lower-cost sources of course materials. A good place to start is the OER by Discipline This link opens in a new tab page. For further information on open access repositories, such as OA journal repositories, please see open access support This link opens in a new tab on the Scholarly Communications & Copyright webpage.

For Instructors

Instructors may use this guide to identify free or lower-cost eBooks and course materials for your students, or as a starting point for creating your very own OER. If you have found some appropriate OER links, you can then add these to Quercus, or get in touch with our staff at for assistance in using UTL's Course Reserves and Syllabus Service This link opens in a new tab.

For help creating permanent links to resources you would like to share with students, see this This link opens in a new tab UTL guide.

Note on copyright-protected materials: What if the material you would like to post is copyright-protected? Please refer to the University of Toronto Fair Dealing Guidelines Link opens in a new tab This link opens in a new tab and the Copyright Basics and FAQ Link opens in a new tab This link opens in a new tab that is produced by the University of Toronto legal counsel. These documents provide in-depth information on copyright issues and will help answer questions about if and how much of a copyright-protected work can be shared freely with students or whether permissions should be sought to do so. Any in-depth copyright questions that cannot be answered by these guidelines can be directed to

For a basic guide on creating your own OER texts see the page: Creating & Adapting OER Texts.

For a begginer's guide to creating other forms of OER, including Open Access Courses (Open Courseware), see the page: Developing & Publishing OER (Including OA Courses)

For further information on Open Educational Resources and Open Access (including initiatives, conferences, history, and pedagogy) see the final section 'Further Information on OER and OA' on the Developing OER page.

Further Information on OER and OA

Websites & Resources:

Conferences & Events:

Courses & Toolkits:

General Reference:

Groups & Organizations:

Timelines, History, & Media:

Articles & Further Readings: