Digital Content

Open Educational Practice Day 4: Discovering and (re)using OER

By Adrian Stagg and Emma Power, USQ

In the penultimate post for this course, we’ll focus on the types of activities made possible by open educational resources, and provide some approaches to working with OER.

‘I’m not allowed to do that to a textbook!’ Discovering and (re)using OER

Let’s start today by briefly revisiting OER, and introducing the potential for sharing and reusing content.  The following video [3mins 31sec] was awarded third place in the ‘Why Open Education Matters’ contest run by the US Department of Education in 2012, and the points raised are still salient.

Open Education Matters: Why is it important to share content? By Nadia Mireles, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence from:

One of the focal points of open education is textbooks; especially in the US where textbook prices have begun to exceed the cost of tuition (Senack and Donogue 2016). The following video [2mins 10sec], from Open Education Week 2016, provides snapshots of the student experience of textbook access and affordability.  You’ll recall the discussion outlining reasons to engage with OER on Day Two – some of the students recorded here echo those sentiments.

Open Education: What’s the Impact? by VaTechLibraries, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence from:

The textbook focus is also an easier one to communicate, as the direct financial implications are relatively simple to convey to a broader audience.  However, it’s worth repeating that OER take many forms from audio, video, photograph, diagram, PDF, ePUB, and many multimedia file types.

Repurposing OER

None->None by Dan Muriello, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives Licence from:

The value of OER is based on the flexibility and more liberal sharing of the resource; the ability to adapt the material to suit local contexts.  This is supported by a concept known as the Five R’s (5Rs), developed by Wiley (2014). The 5Rs allow the end user to:

Retain the content, that is, to create, own, and store copies of the OER.

Reuse the content, whether it be in the classroom (online or face to face), for research purposes, for student assessment, or for presentations.

The ability to Revise is one of the most powerful as it allows the end user to make changes to the content (whether to make it more relevant for the local teaching environment, to update the content, to translate the content into a range of languages, and to create subtitles or transcripts to improve accessibility).

Remixing content is always an interesting experience and one that encourages student co-creation of content.  Remixing occurs when a number of OER are brought together to create a new resource.  It can also refer to format-shifting a resource, for example turning a research report into a video, or a OER discussing a mathematical concept into an interactive multimedia game.  Lastly, is:

Redistribution, which is the right to share the original OER and resulting works with a wider audience.

Activity 6:

Select a resource that you currently use in your work, research, or teaching and apply the 5Rs to that resource.  How many ‘Rs’ does it match?  If you had the opportunity to work with an open and free equivalent of this resource, what would be the first thing you’d change, and which ‘R’ enables your activity?

Growing the Commons: using open licences

The 5Rs have been supported, for the most part, by Creative Commons licencing, and it seems appropriate to discuss those licences now.  In short, Creative Commons licences exist within the framework of Copyright (ensuring that the author can assert the right to be identified as the creator of the work, and the owner), but the licences provide an upfront invitation to share the content.  Rather than fielding many requests for use, the author states the conditions for sharing by applying a licence.  Provided that the end user complies with the conditions, they can exercise many of the 5Rs.  This video [5 mins 32sec] gives an overview of the licences and how they are applied and used.

Creative Commons licences explained by Process Arts, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence from:

PDF is where OER go to die: why format matters

The last consideration for today is one of format.  When you author and share an OER, the licence will indicate what types of repurposing, revising, or remixing can be conducted with the resource.  However, most OER authors don’t consider the format, which provides a challenging space for those who would like to use the resource.

If the resource is created in PDF, for example, altering the content, removing or replacing images, and changing links can be difficult unless you have access to a PDF editor.  When creating your OER, consider how you might encourage other users to repurpose your content.  Some authors will provide a range of file types in a repository so that the user can choose the best format for their needs, which might include .pdf, .docx, and .odt.  Obviously, there are differences between the file types (and formatting can be an issue), but practices like this support open reuse.  One example that we’ve implemented is the print- and reuse-friendly versions of these blog posts, available via the OER Commons.

Activity 7

Go back to your response in Activity 6.  If you were to remix a resource, what licence would you select (and why); and what file formats or practices do you think would enable other users to reuse your content?

Whenever I ask about openly licencing content, I’m amazed at the diversity of responses.  I’m looking forward to the discussion as we head toward our last post.  See you tomorrow.

Join us for a coffee in person!

Emma will be joining your coffee course facilitators Katie and Janene at ANU campus for a face-to-face coffee catchup. We welcome you to join us at 10am, Friday 31 March 2017 at Biginelli’s Cafe in the School of Music, Building 100 (note this is NOT our usual coffee location). Emma would love to hear how you have found the course, and is hoping to capture your thoughts and feedback. Please email Janene if you can attend.


The text of this work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.  All images and videos retain their respective licences.



Senack, E.; & Donoghue, R. (2016).  Covering the cost: why we can no longer afford to ignore high textbook prices.  Student Public Interest Research Group, retrieved from:

Wiley, D. (2014). The access compromise and the 5th R [blog post], Iterating toward openness, March 5, 2014, retrieved from:


37 thoughts on “Open Educational Practice Day 4: Discovering and (re)using OER

  1. Overview of Day Three
    It’s a rainy Public Holiday in Toowoomba as I give you this review of yesterday’s activities. Do spare a thought for me as you have your coffee today – I’m spending most of my day under the house levelling stumps, and hopefully time for a coffee of my own at some stage. 
    Yesterday covered a progression of ideas that started with the value of open access publishing in sharing knowledge, and then moved that idea to the use of open access articles as learning resources. In this way open research also serves as open education resources – research informing teaching.
    There was a discussion of Author Processing Charges (Michael) and whether this extra revenue stream creates a possible conflict of interest for journal publishers; the balance that open researchers must strike between publishing in high-quality closed journals for promotion versus the desire to share research (Dan); reputation again featured in the discussion (Sally) as it has around authoring OER (Melissa), the fate of Beall’s List (Alison); and that sometimes the notions of open and quality are negatively conflated (Noemi & Trisha). I was especially interested to see people’s surprise at how many OA journals were in their discipline, but you might like to look at Noemi’s post to see the diminishing number of OA science journals by geographic region. The US and Western Europe account for almost 3,000 titles, whilst the Asiastic Region has 76, and Africa has 16. Noemi very rightly raises issues of dominance in research voice (and who clearly has it), and you’ll find this mirrored in resource generation too.
    Lastly, Tom asked about the high number of Canadian OA Journals and whether it is because Canada is ‘doing more good work’. Simply put, yes, Canada is one of the leaders in openness globally. They have passed local educational legislation regarding OER, there are institutional policies about ‘OER first’ resource selection, and a number of very high quality OA journals. Some of the open luminaries like Rory McGreal, Stephen Downes, and George Siemens all hail from Canada (not sure if George is Canadian, but a lot of his work was done at Athabasca).
    It’s good to see people revisiting previous posts from earlier in the week; please continue to do so. Emma will be at the helm today (until I emerge from under the house again) so you’re in good hands as we explore the penultimate post (preparing to make something tomorrow).
    See you all later today!

    1. Thanks for the summary Adrian! It’s interesting how much conversation this course has already generated for me and my team at ANU, as we are now working to incorporate the OER principles into our work more readily when we can. In my work as an ed designer I am hoping I can use the information we’ve collected so far to help encourage academics to consider making their learning resources available as OERs or CC licenced if possible. So thanks!

      1. My pleasure, Katie. I am glad whenever people find a practical use for OER and can see a worthwhile use in their own work. If there is ever a chance for collaboration, look me up. It would be great to work together again.

    2. Adrian, glad to hear my infatuation with Canadian HE is not misplaced: 😉
      Rory McGreal was one of my instructors at Athabasca, and I had the pleasure of meeting him face-to-face, at an m-Leaning conference in Hong Kong:
      Apparently I attended a webinar with Stephen Downes, but was not impressed (I don’t recall it):
      George Siemens is Canadian, but I have not bumped into him. Canada can claim ownership of the “MOOC”. 😉
      Tom W.

      1. I had the opportunity to meet Rory and George over the last few years as we managed to arrange a visit to USQ. They are both excellent people with some really great views on the future of education. From time to time I do get to work with Rory via the OERu and he offers a very practical perspective on our work. I can only imagine what it was like to be in his class.

  2. Thanks Adrian and Emma I enjoyed today’s post. I was not fully aware of Creative Commons licences and learnt a lot. From my time in medicine across a couple of universities I can not recall our students ever bring told about this. Something to do.
    One thought about the 5 R’s is the possible concern as information gets passed down after revising and remixing the risk of the data no longer being factual or losing context.
    Apologies for the coffee date tomorrow as I am off main campus.

    1. Hi Michael, glad you found today’s post informative. It could be quite helpful to students looking to engage with any material licensed under a Creative Commons licence.
      I think that the risk of information being remixed or revised incorrectly is a concern with any resources and literature in academia, including open content like OER remixed from other OER or Open journal articles; and even closed content such as authors paraphrasing information from other resources and journal articles. I think to address this lecturers need to check the accuracy and applicability of the resource being revised/remixed, as they would with any resource to be included in this course. When developing this coffee course Adrian and I were essentially remixing existing OER into a new OER, and we vetted the content to ensure its accuracy, applicability to audience context, and fit with our learning objectives. A bit of work but definitely worth the time spent!

      1. Emma, perhaps we should use version control tools with “track changes” so, if necessary, readers can see where everything came from. On occasion I have been challenged by a student about something in my notes and not been sure where it came from. In software development, if you reuse modules from an external source, you do not normally check through all the code (this would not be humanly possible). Instead you look at the testing done and quality assurance stamps. In effect we do this with textbooks and papers: the publisher and editorial process provide a quality guarantee. Perhaps OER initiatives needs to have more explicit quality standards.

        Tom W.

    2. Michael, you do raise a good point here. Often the student is the ‘missing voice’ in OER, and it’s something that I’d like to see Australian higher education move toward addressing. If we’re keen to involve students in authentic learning opportunities, then their experiences and ability to co-create need consideration.
      As for the relationship between remixing and loss of factual currency, I can see your point. I suppose that I’d go back to the issue of reputation that has been raised here during the week. Perhaps the open nature of the resource has a level of built-in accountability? If the authorship is transparent, and the line of attribution (as required by the licence) is present, then there is a clear ‘resource lineage’ to follow. If someone does remix a resource poorly (lack of factual knowledge, credibility, currency) then it is completely visible.
      Do you think this mitigates (in some part) your concerns?

      1. Tom, Emma, and Adrian, I want to address the point about student involvement by focusing on course and program development.

        The Instructional Design book by Smith & Ragan describes practical process for course development and evaluation. In this process, there are three stages of student consultation: first, they are asked to view the content and offer feedback (the course is then modified); second, they are asked to view the content and are interviewed in focus groups (the course is then modified); third, the course is released for credit, and all the students are invited to evaluate the course (which is the modified). After this process, it is expected that the usual evaluation procedures are applied, such as 10-point surveys at the end of each class.

        As for getting students involved in program development, I haven’t heard of it happening much. Ideally, all stakeholders (students, the community, and educational professionals) are actively involved in developing program curriculum for an entire degree such as a Bachelor of Geography. The ideal process (from what I know of it, based only on theory) is that it is iterative and based on consensus. That means that it can be long and expensive. I would like to know just how frequently this process is used, and in its absence, how universities normally develop programs.

  3. Hi All,

    In Activity 6, we were asked:
    Select a resource that you currently use in your work, research, or teaching and apply the 5Rs to that resource. How many ‘Rs’ does it match? If you had the opportunity to work with an open and free equivalent of this resource, what would be the first thing you’d change, and which ‘R’ enables your activity?

    For me, a resource I already use in my work is a textbook we used to print and sell, that is now available online for free. Informing New Zealand looks the information landscape as it is in NZ. But it is a static and dating resource, and I really don’t know how much use it is getting. Our faculty has also been directed in the past to ‘not embed textbook use in a course’ so don’t know if we are even using this online version as much as we used the print version in the past. It was written because there is nothing else that covers this particular topic in this particular country.

    It doesn’t rate well re matching the 5 R’s. It has a CC-BY-ND licence, so although it is creative commons, what you can do with it is quite limited. You can Retain and Reuse it. But you can’t Revise or Remix and then Redistribute it. The No Derivatives licence stops that. So although it is on Wikispaces, it really doesn’t use many of the benefits of this type of format/design.

    I would choose ‘Revise’ as something I would like to have as an option for this book – although even that has the possibility of ending badly. It would be fantastic to have the material in there continually updated 🙂 and wonderful if people with industry knowledge or good research skills could do that. But quality control might be an issue, and writer bias may be tricky to work with as well 🙁 Students could be asked to work in groups to update a particular section or to develop new sections (not sure what topics they would cover though – would need to think some more first so that this is a worthwhile activity for them).


    1. Hi Alison, thank you for your very considered response to the exercise. It is a shame that the No Derivatives terms apply to this resource, as it sounds ideal to Remix (if only!). I’m sure that if you were able to Remix this resource it would be well suited to the subject of NZ’s information landscape, given the ever-changing nature of this area. Even better to have individuals in the industry and/or students to have the opportunity to Remix this resource like you said. But yes, always a challenge to ensure accurate and un-biased remix from other authors. It sounds like you’ve really thought out the benefits, opportunities and challenges that could arise from this exercise, thank you for your post!

  4. Hi again,
    And the last question: Go back to your response in Activity 6. If you were to remix a resource, what licence would you select (and why); and what file formats or practices do you think would enable other users to reuse your content?

    Um… er….its much easier to read about this than to try to apply it yourself. Not sure at the outset. I do remember seeking permission from someone to use one of their graphs in an item I was writing, and she actually checked up on where I was publishing it and saw a CC-BY licence and told me that she “doesn’t use CC-BY and actively oppose it as a default for OA” and asked me to add a separate copyright notice in the attribution for the chart for her chart’s protection. We later found the journal articles themselves have CC-BY-NC-ND licences, so it all ended up fine for her. But it also means no-one can repurpose (revise, remix, redistribute) the content I created in there either, and it would be nice if that wasn’t so…..

    If I were going to remix a resource, I would probably licence it under CC-BY-NC-SA (as long as the original works I was remixing from would allow that). The reason is that this allows others to remix what I had remixed, which is fair enough, but they can’t make $$$ out of it, as I would have released my remix for public good, not for someone else to swoop in and privatise it and make money from it. having the Share Alike on the end means that anyone else using the material I had created by remixing would have the same conditions on their work, so whoever saw their material (which would include mine) wouldn’t be able to privatise it and get $$ for it either.

    It would be like giving someone a gift, only to find that they had sold it to someone else. Gifts should be freely given, and I don’t mind if gifts are given on to other people, but I would object to them being sold.

    Re the file formats – anything that I can remix easily from would be a suitable format for me to send it back out into the world in. Just being practical – if it is a format that I can work with, then others are likely to be able to work with it too. That would be my rule of thumb.

    1. Thank you for your response to Activity 6 Alison. You’ve clearly given a considered choice of Creative Commons licencing that not only considers how people could Reuse and Retain the resource in terms of practical file formatting; but also how they would be able to Remix and Revise it; and also how they should be allowed to Redistribute it (for non-commercial uses and share alike). You’ve clearly detailed how each of the 5Rs would be considered when you’d (hypothetically) use a Creative Commons licence, but used a great gift metaphor for your non-commercial ethos too. I think the non-commercial and share alike clause is great in ensuring that future Revisions and Remixes of your hypothetical resource could be shared with the same generosity and openness as your original resource.

      What do others think, would you licence future OER as CC-BY-NC-SA? Do you also place importance on future non-commercial uses only of your resources?

      1. Hi Emma and Alison, Great question – I agree that I think that particular license is also the one that appeals to me the most. In terms of making educational materials available, I do have some concerns about them then being used for commercial purposes beyond those I had originally intended. As you say Emma, I’d like to maintain them in the “same generosity and openness” as the original if I can. What does everyone else think?

        1. Hi Katie, can that problem of possible re-use of OER for commercial profit-making purposes be avoided through the types of creative common licenses available? So if the free stuff is licensed as free for use and re-mix, revising etc for non-profit educational purposes only and specifying that any commercial use attracts a premium. With such a license restriction in place, perhaps you could also enter a bargain with the commercial enterprise that if they base a for-profit item on something you have created to be open use, that they are to devote a proportion of their profits to providing a certain number of free or subsidised copies of the revised item.

    2. Alison wrote:
      ‘Um… er….its much easier to read about this than to try to apply it yourself. Not sure at the outset. I do remember seeking permission from someone to use one of their graphs in an item I was writing, and she actually checked up on where I was publishing it and saw a CC-BY licence and told me that she “doesn’t use CC-BY and actively oppose it as a default for OA” and asked me to add a separate copyright notice in the attribution for the chart for her chart’s protection.’

      I was supporting a colleague to redevelop a course on Knowledge Management as he wanted to use open resources. One of the major challenges was the video interviews that he did with local businesses. Many turned him down on the basis that we wanted to apply a CC-BY-NC-ND licence, which they felt did not protect their commercial interests or reputation enough. By contrast, the local SMEs, Social Enterprises, and NGOs were more than happy to provide an interview that showed students the practicalities of KM in practice, so I can see how your case is certainly not isolated.

  5. Hi everyone,

    A resource I used extensively when I was working as an instructional designer was “Instructional Design” by Patricia L. Smith and Tillman J. Ragan. I retained it by buying a copy, and I summarised some sections of it for redistribution in a training session. If there were an open and free version of this book, I’d like to see it revised through updates about online learning and to have it in a digital format (besides the Kindle format that exists). Then, it could be redistributed. I think this book would be highly beneficial to teachers because it’s an excellent guide for teaching a variety of types of content.

    If it were my book, and didn’t care to use it for income, I would use the CC-BY license because it’s the easiest to use while still requiring attribution. I would not want to use the CC-BY-SA license because it’s more difficult to combine resources with this type of license.

    As an aside, here is a very useful game for figuring out what kinds of licenses can be combined in an OER:

    1. Hi Dan, thanks for your comment. You’ve given us a good rationale for choosing a CC-BY license if you had been the author of this useful resource. I’m wondering if you could share with the group the kind of difficulties that using a CC-SA-BY license would bring when combining resources?

      Thank you for sharing the license combination game! I’m about to board my flight to Canberra for the coffee meetup we’ve got planned tomorrow, so I haven’t had a chance to load it. I’ll have a look at it tonight!

      1. Hi Emma,
        I’ll start by sharing this link, which is from the OERu’s course “Open Content Licensing for Educators”:

        The link contains a chart showing which licenses are compatible with other ones. The chart is a bit confusing, but it shows how much easier it is to mix content that is in the public domain or that has a CC-BY license than any other license. Having relied heavily on OER in previous projects, I appreciate it when a CC-BY license is used because it makes my job a lot easier. That said, the content I was producing by copying those OER was for my employer, so I had no stake in how the OER I produced were used subsequent to their publication. If I had been producing OER on my own, I would have needed to consider my licensing options more carefully.

    2. This is a great link, Dan! I’ve seen paper versions of this type of game before, but not anything like this. I shall certainly be using it in my PD sessions from now on. Bookmarked!

  6. Activity 6: Apply the 5Rs.
    Currently I am tutoring ANU Techlauncher software project management students. There are no textbooks for that course. The students use free open access materials and software. Some of the students are doing projects to create new resources and tools:
    In my course design and teaching I use and create open access materials:
    1. Retain: I make use of the Internet Archive to get copies of materials which has been deleted from its original location. This is particularly handy for government reports, when the government changes and they try to erase from history what their predecessors did:
    2. Reuse: Unless materials have been designed for reuse, there can be a lot of work needed to make them usable. I also find poorly formatted PDF documents particularly annoying. I use web based documents (Moodle Books, Epub, or just plain web pages).
    3. Revise: I am troubled by the idea of revising someone else’s content. How do you should you indicate who did which bits? As far as I can see you satisfy the requirements of CC BY, just saying at the front “adapted from …” and then copy a three hundred page document, change one word and put you name on the front.
    4. Remixing: I do a lot of remixing, assembling bits from here and there. But a lot of work is needed to reformat the content and also acknowledge what came from where.
    5. Redistribution: A creative commons license allows me to teach a course at one institution and then take a copy with me to the next institution. Otherwise I get tied up in contracts where the instruction says they own everything I produced, even though they did not pay me to produce it (just teach it). With CC I can give them a copy which they can use, but they did not have exclusive rights. As each new adjunct arrives at ANU Computer Science, I take them aside and explain the value of CC to them, apart from Tridge, who is an OA guru:

    1. Tom wrote:
      ‘3. Revise: I am troubled by the idea of revising someone else’s content. How do you should you indicate who did which bits? As far as I can see you satisfy the requirements of CC BY, just saying at the front “adapted from …” and then copy a three hundred page document, change one word and put you name on the front.’

      It’s considered to be good practice to note in the attribution what you changed. I work with a lot images for presentations, so my attribution statements generally include notes like ‘image cropped from…’ or ‘image changed from colour to black-and-white from…’. When I have worked with text, I note in the attribution the major changes.

      For example, you might consider something like ‘All spelling in this document changed to Australian usage from US, all case studies altered to reflect Australian or New Zealand examples…’. I think that if you are reusing someone’s work then you owe it to them to reflect what has been changed – also it helps your reputation too if other readers can transparently see your changes.

  7. Activity 7: what license
    For “ICT Sustainability” I used Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license:
    For previous materials I used the Australian version of the CC license, but worried that non-Australian would be confused by this.
    I have thought about using the “non-commercial” CC license, but am, not sure how it applies in Australia. Australia has a higher education system with a mix of non-profit and for-profit institutions. Non-profit universities make a profit on their courses, it is just that this is used to fund research, rather than shareholders. I am not sure why the students of the non-profit university should be able to use educational materials which those at a for-profit university can’t.
    Tom W.

    1. Hi Tom. Functionally there isn’t a lot of difference between the International and Australian CC licences. What you do find is that when the CC licences are updated (the most recent version is 4.0), the International one is released first and then countries work to ‘port’ the licence into their own legal frameworks. Thus, there was a period of time when the International Licence was 4.0 and the Australian licence was 3.0. As I said, there isn’t really a lot of functional difference, as the affordances are generally not changed.

  8. Activity 6 and 7 – combined, because it works better!
    I had difficulty choosing a resource that I use regularly, but I decided to go with one that I have just created – it’s a “book” (Moodle book) on course design and development that I created specifically for a School here. My dream for this resource is that it can fit the 5 Rs, but I know it is limited because it is in the Moodle book format. So, I can retain it as long as I have a Moodle instance where I can view it or if I print it (physically, or as a PDF); I can reuse it in other Moodle courses or send it to others in PDF format; I can revise it easily if I have Moodle, otherwise it is cumbersome; I theoretically can remix it although, again, it is limited; and I can redistribute it, albeit in a limited way.
    I guess that I have all of these abilities because I created it and, although the university owns the IP, the university’s stance is that content created here uses the CC-BY license (or it is preferred that it does). However, because the native format is a Moodle book, the 5 Rs are not easy outside of the Moodle environment. Yes, it can be made into a PDF, but there are so many limitations, including that the links and videos are not active in the PDF.
    Considering these issues with something that I have just created, when I think about remixing a resource, I want to make sure that it is easily adaptable (i.e. the format is easy to access) and that it is not locked down too much. I do like the CC-BY license, but I also think that the NC aspect could be beneficial so that others do not profit from my work that I want to give to the world freely and openly. So, I need to learn more about how the NC aspect could affect (positively or negatively) the use of the resource. In terms of format, I’m playing with Google docs more at the moment as part of my everyday practice, and they seem relatively open and potentially suitable for the format of OER. Thus, I think I lean towards using Google docs as the format and the CC-BY or CC-BY-NC licenses.

    1. Hi Trisha, this is a very clear line of thought and one that I see enacted with other practitioners. There is certainly tension between using the tools of a Learning Management System to maximise the learning environment for staff and students; and creating a resource that may benefit others (saving them time, providing different perspectives). I know that there is work at USQ to provide an environment to export Moodle Books into an open environment for reuse, but it is still being trialed.

      As for the non-commercial, I’ll provide two thoughts here that may help.
      (1) My question has always been about the chances of commercialisation and the associated monetary gain. I know a lot of lecturers who have stated that textbook revenue isn’t worth the effort, but I imagine that experiences will vary. Even a very small supplementary income is better than nothing, in my opinion. That said, if you are concerned that there are commercialisation opportunities in the future, use the NC licence. It’s very common (especially with photographs; you’ll see this licence used a lot on Flickr), and it doesn’t stop universities from using your work.
      (2) The other point is that a CC licence is not exclusive. To use a photo example: let’s say I take a photo of the beach at Caloundra and it is spectacular (if you know my photography skills then this is a stretch, but work with me 🙂 ). I upload it to Flickr with a CC-BY-NC licence, and Tourism Australia sees the photo. They contact me and ask if they can put it on billboard (which is obviously a commerical use). I can still broker a deal with Tourism Australia and receive funds for the photo, but I do need to keep my free and open version available, as a CC licence cannot be revoked. So – you can label material NC so that others can’t profit, but this still means you can.

      Does that help?

  9. One last item worth considering for everyone, sparked by Trisha’s comment about Google Docs. Make sure when using collaborative solutions that you aren’t signing your IP over to the provider. Not sure if Google still has the clause, but when Docs were first launched part of the user agreement stated that anything stored in a Doc became the property of Google. I’ve checked with each provider I have used (DropBox, and TechSmith being two of the main ones) to ensure that they agree to just store my content, not lay any claim of ownership on it.

  10. I’ve delved a little bit into the world of CC licences, so this post has been really interesting. I recently had to get a textbook for my research which doesn’t match any of the five “Rs” – it’s a physical textbook which can’t be “translated or copied in whole or in part without the written permission of the publisher”. It’s a shame because the book deals with analysis methods used in the R statistical software, which is fully open source. The book is also designed in a way that would make it a really useful teaching resource. The first thing I would change would be “Redistribution”, to allow the content to be shared with students. Remixing would also be useful, as the topic is one that is developing rapidly, with new methods constantly emerging. Allowing the content to be updated and turned into practical exercises would be a nice feature.

    Assuming that the licenses allowed it, if I were to remix this resource I would licence it under a CC-By-NC-SA. As others here have said, I like the idea of having these resources be shareable, but wouldn’t want someone else to then go and commercialise them. I would make it available in both basic text formats and pdf. How do CC licenses interact with things like open-source licenses, which are often used for software?

    1. I’d agree, Rachel, that the book on an open source software package is commercial in nature sounds very odd, but I’d be hopeful there is an open textbook. I did a cursory search for some open textbooks, and will try to post them in subsequent replies; the Comments here won’t allow me to put more than a one link (it seems) per post.
      As for the question about CC licences and open source, Creative Commons does state that the licences are not suitable for code. Instead, they recommend the GNU licence, which can be found here: It is specifically designed for programming and open source software projects, so you’ll find it a much better fit.

      1. I’ll try the links again for the open texts on R. I don’t know your teaching needs, so they might not be useful at all:

        Statistical Analysis: an Introduction using R –
        Introduction to Probability and Statistics Using R –
        Using R for Data Analysis and Graphics Introduction, Code and Commentary –

        Hope these help.

  11. Activity 6
    With the limitations of this example, I selected a PPT presentation I elaborated as support to a lecture on Conditional Cash Transfers in Mexico. In this case, the five R’s match to improve the educational resource. In addition to being Retained and Reused, the presentation would enhance its quality from the Review, as it would have updated content, and could be subject to a change of format (Power Point is somewhat archaic). The permission to Remix would also increase its content and allow networking with other teachers. Redistribution is fundamental because it fulfils the initial goal of the resource and allows to continue with its “life cycle”.

    Activity 7
    I also did not know the type of permissions of Creative Commons, and I am excited to be able to use this kind of licenses to their full potential. For the case I mentioned, I think I would use CC BY-NC -SA “Non-Commercial Attribution Sharelike”. This permission would allow other people to use, distribute and modify the resource as well as ensure that it continues with this cycle without restrictive licenses or profit from other users. Is important that open educational resources are free, to achieve the objectives of flexibility, opportunity and equity.

  12. I use a physical book published by a commercial publisher for one of the linguistics courses I teach. It’s a great book, but it’s published in the US, so most of the examples are very American English oriented. Whenever I teach using it, I have to supplement it with some Australian examples. If I could revise it, that’s what I would add. That would also allow to add New Zealand, Irish and other examples, making it a great and multi-faceted resource.
    If I were to license it, it’d be CC BY-NC-SA for all the reasons that have been mentioned above.

  13. I don’t think there are any resources apart from book chapters and journal articles that I use which would apply here. I tend to create my own materials depending on the needs of the students. At the moment, my materials don’t meet any of the 5Rs, as they are PDFs, difficult to remix or revise, although I do allow students to retain copies. I would like to do more with my own OER resources, except that I struggle with having my work available openly. I currently have work shared under the CC-attribution licence, but it would be very difficult to revise or remix that content. It should probably be under CC-Attribution-No commercial-Share Alike.

    In my own work, I often use resources from some of the educational sites such as (which has some free resources, but once purchased can have the 5Rs applied) and .

    If you are interested, my infographic is here

  14. I use the book Project Management for Instructional Designers – and it is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. This means I am free to adapt, revise and improve the work (Remix). I’d like to localise some of the content and examples and would like to make it available in multiple formats especially HTML to make it accessible.

    I love the idea of being able to remix as long as there is someone checking the accuracy and validity of the content.

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