Using Existing Open Educational Resources (OER)

Remote Teaching

Using Existing Open Educational Resources (OER)

Using Existing Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources are digital resources that are open access and can be used in higher education. It covers a variety of different types of resources, including texts, graphs, images and videos, a very wide definition. They usually have a Creative Commons or similar license. A good explanation of open educational resources can be found on the page of SURF.

For online as well as blended learning you can ask yourself why create new educational material, when there is already high quality (academic) content out there? Moreover, open digital resources are already accessible for students and contribute to Open Science. This makes it align with Leiden University’s Vision on Teaching and Learning.

For advice on how to make your own interactive open educational resource, you can contact your faculty’s ICTO or video coordinator, the Centre for Innovation or read the advice in the video toolkit of Leiden University.

Keep in Mind

  1. Always check the copyrights of the material. Do you have permission to use it? If so, under which conditions?
  2. Make use of the knowledge base and search functions of Leiden University’s Library.
  3. Cooperate with colleagues in your discipline.


Finding open educational resources

You can find existing open educational resources through general or education specific search engines (e.a. OERcommons, Merlot, SURF Zoekportaal), repositories (e.a. this overview), and websites like YouTube. On this SURF page you can find a more in depth explanation.

This toolkit from Leiden University describes on which websites you can find quality open access material. On the website of Leiden University’s Library, you can find open access literature. You can also think of public institutions, such as digital archives. This includes the Dutch National Archive, UK National Archives, US Library of Congress and other institutions that store and digitize original sources.

Due to the coronavirus, more resources have been made publicly available. The University’s Library has an updated list of these resources. There is also a list of updated information on research on the coronavirus.

Be aware: you can only use digital resources if the copyrights permit it. In order to ensure this, have a look at the Creative Commons License. When in doubt, you can contact the UBL Copyright Information Office for assistance.

Examining open educational resources

Assessing existing open educational resources also means judging them on quality and level before you can put them to good use. You will have to make a judgement call, or ask a student (assistant) to do it for you, as there are no standardized guidelinesYou can also work together with colleagues in your discipline to create a step by step plan for quality assessment.

Considerations and Implementation

Using open educational resources

The way you use open educational resources is similar to when you use articles and books written by yourself. You can make reading it mandatory by putting it on the literature list, comment on it and annotate together with students. When using original resources, you can also use it to combine research with education. Naturally you provide references to the used material. You can look at the most used methods here. It does not differ from how you would otherwise organize your education.

However, there can be technical limitations, e.a. how you can implement videos in your learning management system. Check the Brightspace manual.

Making open educational resources yourself

Cannot find what you’re looking for? You could consider making resources yourself, or combine forces with colleagues and reduce the effort needed per person. You can look for inspiration at this example from the paramedic portal for Higher Education.

If you consider making your material openly accessible, we recommend using the licence CC-BY-NC-SA, or contact the Copyright Information Office.

For more support on how to make your own interactive open educational resources you can contact the Centre for Innovation, have a look at the video toolkit from Leiden University, and read more advice on this website.

Relevant Links and Additional Information