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The term Open Education refers to a global educational movement that focuses on eliminating barriers to education with a focus on access, equity, and shared abundance.

What does it mean to be “open” in this context? Many people are familiar with the idea of copyright, and some may have heard of Open Educational Resources (OER). An instructional material can be considered an OER if, instead of being copyrighted, it is either released into the public domain or is licensed such that that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities listed below:

  • Retain – make, own, and control a copy of the resource
  • Revise – edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource
  • Remix – combine your copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new
  • Reuse – use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly
  • Redistribute – share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others

The “5 Rs of OER” above is part of a larger post by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Open Education as a movement extends beyond the materials that faculty select for their courses. A growing body of research surrounding Open Pedagogy allows faculty to apply the core ideas of the movement to how they teach. Learn more about ways to get started or explore further with Open Education at GRCC in the sections below, and check out our current list of courses that use OER!

Courses Using OER at GRCC

Open Educational Resources

According to The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Open Education Resources (OER) are "teaching, learning, and research materials in any media that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free use and repurposing by others." In short, creators and adopters of OER share educational information so that everyone has access to learning.

The “5 Rs of OER” described in the introduction above help us to think about what an open license really means, and Creative Commons (CC) is an international nonprofit organization that helps to make the process of using and finding open licenses easier. Here is a great infographic describing the permissions of different Creative Commons licenses. The “No Derivatives” option for CC licenses is not compatible with OER principles, but most other options fit the definition, along with items in the public domain.

Open educational resources aren’t just full textbooks! This definition can also include:

  • Lesson plans
  • Lecture notes and slides
  • Multimedia like images, videos, or podcasts
  • Assignments
  • Assessments

See also the GRCC Policy 7.3 Instructional Materials Policy, where OER are defined as “freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media used as instructional materials in teaching and learning environments.” 

For more, consider the The OER Starter Kit by Abbey Elder and Stacy Katz, as well as additional resources and OER repositories listed in the Exploring Further section below.

Open Pedagogy

Open Pedagogy has sometimes been referred to as Open Educational Practices (OEP) and is sometimes included within OEP as a larger category. Open Pedagogy is a method of engaging students directly in the co-creation of knowledge. Rajiv Jhangiani and Robin DeRosa describe it as “an access-oriented commitment to learner-driven education AND as a process of designing architectures and using tools for learning that enable students to shape the public knowledge commons of which they are a part.” (Open Pedagogy Notebook).

One large focus on open pedagogy is to have students engage in creating renewable, rather than disposable, assignments. A renewable assignment is one whose final content survives beyond the student-faculty grading process and can be made more widely available in an openly licensed form. The Open Education Network launched the Open Pedagogy Portal to host such student projects as well as resources to support open pedagogy efforts.

Open Pedagogy is aligned with equity-focused teaching practices, as students have increased engagement and autonomy. Open Pedagogy is increasingly the focus of educators doing work at the meeting place of open education and social justice. 

The Open Education Network freely offers its curriculum for OEP and TLDE can run a learning circle or workshop on the topic if it is requested.

Getting Started

If you want to learn more about Open Education, TLDE’s OER Coordinator and Faculty Liaison Dr. Lauren Woolsey can help! Schedule a time to chat by email at and explore together what your first (or next) step into Open Education can look like.

In the section below, Exploring Further, you can find repositories that collect a wide assortment of Open Educational Resources, several articles and reports collecting data on the effectiveness of implementing OER, and links to other groups doing this work. Welcome to the world of open!

Exploring Further



Local Institutions

National and International Associations

Other Resources