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Open Access

Open Access, Open Education, and OER

Open Education is a movement with the goal of making education more affordable, accessible, and effective for more people.  It includes types of instructional modes, materials, and pedagogies that expand the availability of education.  Common examples of Open Education include free, massive online courses (MOOCs), the use of Open Access publications in assignments, or incorporating open educational resources (OER). 

Learning materials are considered an important component of Open Education.  Educators of all levels make their slides, lecture recordings, or exercises available so others can learn from them, or for others to re-use them for teaching. 

Open Access and Open Education.  Open Access is a publishing model that makes scholarly and creative works freely available and allows types of sharing and reuse.  These attributes enable them to be for used teaching and instructional purposes.  Open Access journals and books can provide viable materials to promote and support Open Education, and provide many benefits to both students and instructors.

Open Access publications have Creative Commons (CC) licenses attached to them, allowing them to be reused based on their assigned license terms.  See a work's CC license and use ones that align with your intended purposes.

Is Open Access the same as OER?  Open Educational Resources, or OER, are educational materials that have been made freely available for teaching purposes.  It is easy to get the two confused or think they are the same thing, but they have some subtle differences:

  • Definition:  Open Access is a publishing model, while OER are materials for educational purposes.  
  • Origin and Purpose:  Open Access started through conversations between publishers, professional societies, academics, and governmental bodies to make the results of scholarly research more available.  OER started largely among educators who wanted to share their learning objects or materials, and those who wanted to find or use them.
  • Types of Works:  Open Access is widely used for published books, articles, and various types of scholarly or creative output.  OER can make use of an Open Access work or others such as slides, recordings, simulations, and other learning objects.

Related Research Guides and More Information

Examples and Better Practices

1.  Illustrative Examples

An FAU librarian created an online guide to science information sources and used open access journal articles and images to illustrate real-life examples of science communication concepts.  She did this to provide sources that anyone could view, and to follow copyright for reusing the works. 

2.  Assigned Readings

A criminal justice professor assigned Cennato and Nalla's Crime and Fear in Public Places (2020), an open access eBook with a CC BY-ND 4.0 license, as required reading for a course.  This online eBook is available at no additional cost to the students.  He provided its permanent URL in Canvas and also in the course syllabus. 

3.  Openly Available (and Shared) Readings and Materials

An FAU professor teaching an online community education course on geriatrics is assigning articles from BMC Geriatrics, an open access journal.  The articles are available to everyone whether or not they are an FAU student or affiliate.  Because of the journal's CC license, she was also able to download PDFs of articles and share them by email for students who had technical trouble.


Better Practices

Using Open Access works has the same benefits of using open educational resources.  These materials are available at no additional cost to students, are available by the first day of the course, and are openly and freely available.  To help you and your students get the most out of using them as course or instructional materials, here are some suggested tips:

1.  Review the Work's Creative Commons (CC) License.  Be sure the CC license of a work aligns with your intended use.

  • CC BY:  The work can be freely downloaded and shared with attribution provided.
  • CC BY-NC:  The work can be reused for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes.
  • CC BY-ND:  A work with this license allows sharing but not if you remix, transform or build on the original work.

2.  Review the Version of Work.  Open Access works, particularly journal articles, can include a final version of record or it can include preprints.  The following Open Access models generally have certain versions:

3.  Add Durable URLs to Syllabi or LMS.  Find the durable or permanent URL for an Open Access work, and provide that in your syllabi or other places where you list your course materials to students.

4.  Save or Download an Open Access Work.  This ensures you have the work if its URL changes or its host site or server is down.  It also gives you the option to re-use or share if it is not readily available.

Find OA for Teaching and Instruction

How To Identify Open Access Publications for Teaching and Instruction

1.  Look for articles, books or other publications with the Open Access logo or statement.

a.  Find Open Access works in Directory of Open Access Journals or Directory of Open Access Books.

b.  A work may have the Open Access logo Open Access Logo or a statement may be appear or in its text.

c.  In FAU Libraries OneSearch or Library Catalog research results, select "Open Access" to refine your results.

OneSearch Open Access Search

2.  Look for a Creative Commons license on a work.   Although an author or creator keeps their copyright, a CC license allows reuse without permission as long as the license conditions are followed.

Creative Commons License on a Work

Last updated on Dec 6, 2022 11:52 AM