Guidance for the Adoption of Open Educational Resources 

January 11, 2019

A. Purpose

This guidance has been developed to support the utilization of Open Educational Resources (OER).

OERs are freely-accessible teaching, educational, and research materials that either exist in the public domain or are available to users via an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing. These resources include complete online courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, assessment tools, and software. They provide people worldwide with access to quality education and the opportunity to share, use, and reuse knowledge.

Some specific potential benefits include:

  • The application, creation, and longevity of OER results in higher-quality curricula and course materials, more engaged instructors, more efficient and effective teaching, and improved student access, success, and completion.
  • Improved educational outcomes such as deeper engagement with material by both students and faculty.
  • Course materials owned by the academy and shared with the world.
  • Collaborative opportunities within and among institutions.
  • Ability to broaden the reach of locally authored content.
  • Ability to adapt/remix content to fit a local need.
  • Satisfying student demand for affordable course materials.
  • Day-one access to course materials regardless of financial aid status.
  • Cultivating an educational community dedicated to maximizing access to learning.

B. Helpful Guidelines for the Adoption of OER 

  • Courses using only OER should be noted as such in SIS. 
  • Faculty members who create original content that is incorporated into an OER course or create OER of other types or formats should place a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY) on such content before or at the time it is introduced into the course. 
  • Faculty members adapting OER should use the least restrictive license possible.  It is the faculty member’s responsibility to ensure that such content is eligible for and meets the standards for a CC-BY license. 
  • OER and OER courses should be published in electronic formats that permit free, public and editable access to the content, course content, course materials, and any supplemental materials.
  • OER and OER courses should be publicly shared in a stable publicly accessible location and utilize naming and/or metadata conventions to enable discovery within and beyond Virginia.
  • Cross-institutional collaboration is encouraged in defining, establishing, and achieving best practices regarding technically open formats, institutional data ownership, migration of content, enabling public access and reuse, archival standards, and enabling discovery.
  • As subject matter experts, faculty members are responsible for creating, adapting, or selecting OER that aligns to the course learning outcomes. Faculty who teach an OER course should document the effectiveness of the OER content in achieving learning outcomes in the same manner as learning outcomes are assessed for courses utilizing traditional materials.  

C.  Licensing OER and the Legal Context

University of Virginia faculty who make use of OER materials should do so in accordance with the provisions of the institution's Intellectual Property policy; the Creative Commons licensing standards; the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998; applicable state and federal copyright laws; accepted best practices of the OER community, including a succinct and well-accepted definition of OER; and college policies and academic standards.

D.  Additional OER Resources 

Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) – A consortium of non-profit academic libraries across Virginia is implementing an Open and Affordable Course Content Program, with funding support from the Virginia General Assembly. The initiative will provide statewide infrastructure, training, and information to faculty and staff at member institutions. Chip German ( is currently UVA’s representative to VIVA’s Open and Affordable Course Content Committee.  

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)

George Mason University has developed a robust infrastructure for the access and adoption of OER. More information on GMU’s model can be found here.

SCHEV’s Open Virginia Advisory Committee: UVA’s current representative is Brandon Butler (