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According to David Wiley of Lumen Learning, open content refers to "any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other times like "open source") that is licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:
Retain: the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
Reuse: the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
Revise: the right the adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
Remix: the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g. incorporate the content into a mashup)
Redistribute: the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g. give a copy of the content to a friend)
A creative commons is a "some rights reserved" license that allows a copyright holder to grant permission to others to use the work while maintaining the rights to their work (so they still get credit for it). There are different levels of creative commons licenses, but in some cases, this allows a work to be changed and republished under the same license.
One of the major topics of conversation in higher education at the moment is the rising cost of textbooks. As universities work to respond to students' financial concerns, OER has evolved as a viable alternative, but it is not the only reason to consider ditching your textbook.
Collaboration: Creating OER can be an opportunity for you to work with other educators toward the common goal of publishing learning resources
Freedom to teach: When you select the materials, you are not bound to the Table of Contents in a textbook. You can move beyond the same old format to one that covers topics and outcomes you decide are important. You can appeal to a variety of learning styles by incorporating different types of resources from the beginning.
Technology education: Providing digital OER to students helps them become familiar with real world technologies. These are skills that can move past your subject area and will benefit them beyond their university experience.
Impact: Creating OER gives you the opportunity to showcase your own research not only to your students but to the academic community.
Individualization: An OER course has been carefully crafted for the student and includes materials that the instructor has selected to meet specific learning objectives.
Retention and marketing: If you were a student with budget concerns, wouldn't you be more likely to choose a university or a course with no associated textbook costs?
Sustainability: Once you develop your curriculum around what you want to teach, the only thing you'll ever have to do is update areas that change. No more evaluating textbooks.