Skip to Main Content
Types of OER

OER Common Photo

Content Types

OER can be separated, by content type, into four groups: Text led, Video led, Animation led and Multiple media. Types of open educational resources include: full courses, course materials, modules, learning objects, open textbooks, openly licensed (often streamed) videos, tests, software, and other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

OER may be freely and openly available static resources, dynamic resources which change over time in the course of having knowledge seekers interacting with and updating them (such as this Wikipedia article), or a course or module with a combination of these resources.

MERLOT (Multimedia Education Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) recognizes many other content types such as Assessment Tool, Assignment, Case Study, Drill and Practice, ePortfolio, and Workshop and Training Material.

Open Online Courses

A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets,

MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs). MOOCs are a recent development in distance education which began to emerge in 2012.

Although early MOOCs often emphasized open access features, such as connectivism and open licensing of content, structure, and learning goals, to promote the reuse and remixing of resources, some notable newer MOOCs use closed licenses for their course materials, while maintaining free access for students.

OpenCourseWare (OCW)

OpenCourseWare (OCW) are course lessons created at universities and published gratis via the Internet.

The OpenCourseWare movement started in 1999 when the University of Tübingen in Germany published videos of lectures online for its timms initiative (Tübinger Internet Multimedia Server). The OCW movement only took off, however, with the launch of MIT OpenCourseWare at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in October 2002.

The movement was soon reinforced by the launch of similar projects at Yale, the University of Michigan, and the University of California Berkeley. MIT's reasoning behind OCW was to "enhance human learning worldwide by the availability of a web of knowledge".

MIT also stated that it would allow students (including, but not limited to its own) to become better prepared for classes so that they may be more engaged during a class. Since then, a number of universities have created OCW projects modeled after MIT's, some of which have been funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Founda

Open Textbooks​

An open textbook is a textbook licensed under an open copyright license, and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public. Many open textbooks are distributed in either print, e-book, or audio formats that may be downloaded or purchased at little or no cost.

Part of the broader open educational resources movement, open textbooks increasingly are seen as a solution to challenges with traditionally published textbooks, such as access and affordability concerns. Open textbooks were identified in the New Media Consortium's 2010 Horizon Report as a component of the rapidly progressing adoption of open content in higher education.

The defining difference between open textbooks and traditional textbooks is that the copyright permissions on open textbooks allow the public to freely use, adapt and distribute the material. Open textbooks either reside in the public domain or are released under an open license that grants usage rights to the public so long as the author is attributed.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Montgomery College

Montgomery County, MD


©2017, Montgomery College