Skip to Main Content

Open Educational Resources @MJC

This guide provides an overview of open educational resources (OER), Zero textbook cost courses, and gives you tools to help you find, create, and share these resources.

OER Basics

What are OERs?

Attribution: "What is OER?" by The Council of Chief State School Officers is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. 

Examples of OER include:

  • Full courses,
  • Modules,
  • Syllabi,
  • Lectures,
  • Homework assignments,
  • Quizzes,
  • Lab activities,
  • Pedagogical materials,
  • Games,
  • Simulations, and many more resources contained in digital media collections from around the world.


Attribution: "Open Education" by Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Licensing is Key

A common misconception of OER is that they are simply "free" resources. While free is one component, how the resource is licensed is equally important.

For resources to be considered OER, they must be openly licensed.This means the permissions traditionally protected by copyright are proactively communicated to users-- frequently, though not exclusively, using Creative Commons. Creative Commons provides a variety of licensing options that allow creators of works to grant usage rights to others.

In addition to including both legal language and layman's language, each Creative Commons license also includes a machine readable version, which allows search engines and other types of technology to understand the intellectual property rights associated with the work. Creative Commons licenses were created to be flexible and range from very open to restrictive depending on the rights the creator wishes to share.

Texas State University Libraries. "Introduction to Open Educational Resources: Home." Library 
     Guides, 5 Apr. 2022, Accessed 8 Mar. 2023.


What Can I Do With OER?

The great aspect of OER, is that you can adapt material for use in your own course. Depending on the CC license, are able to do one or more of the following with it:

Permission right of OER

This material is an adaptation of "Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources" by David Wiley and licensed under CC BY 4.0.


Zero textbook cost (ZTC) means that students do not incur any costs for purchasing course materials. Zero-cost to the students does not guarantee zero-cost to the institution, i.e. subscription databases, library equipment loans. To create a ZTC course, instructors might use:

  • Open Educational Resources (OER)
  • Open Access, Creative Commons, and public domain materials, along with teacher-created materials and electronic resources owned or licensed by the MJC Library


A great way to create ZTC courses is using "free" materials that are not open (so they can’t be modified) such as articles, documents, films, and more accessed through databases at the MJC Library & Learning Center.


 Image: This work is marked as being in the public domain.

"Zero Textbook Cost." Skyline College, Accessed 24 Oct. 2019.