Teaching with Open Resources

Teaching in the open means that you are making some or all aspects of your learning environment available and accessible to the public. “When we share, everyone wins” - Creative Commons

Openness in Teaching and Learning

Hear UofA’s SU President Joel Agarwal talk about The Student Perspective On Open Education in an episode of CTL’s Teaching Plus Podcast.

Teaching in the open means that you are making some or all aspects of your learning environment available and accessible to the public. For some, this may mean the adoption of an open text or learning resource, or contributing open educational resources created by you and/or your students. For others, it may mean adopting a set of open practices - related to all aspects of the course including planning, learning, assessment and reflection on the process.

Openly sharing your teaching materials, your teaching practices, and allowing students and instructors beyond the University of Alberta to learn from you increases not only the openness of your course, but also engages participants who cannot attend a physical educational site or enrol in formal education delivery.

As evidenced in the great work that faculty and students are engaged in at the University, there is no one right way to teach or to “do open”.

Open teaching may include:

  • Use of an open textbook and open resources in a course (see UAL OER Libguide: Finding OER)
  • Using student blogs as open portfolios where they can document, share experiences and get feedback on their work (or works in progress) from a wider audience than their course mates or instructors.
  • Opening a class discussion to the public via open course blog or via Twitter hashtag.
  • Students creating openly licensed learning resources and publishing them (via YouTube, Flickr, Google docs or other platforms).

Openness is not a single expression and exists on a spectrum (Adoption, Adaptation, Creation, Connection), as described by Christina Hendricks in here article Navigating Open Pedagogy.

Builds Digital Literacies
Learners become creators and engaged in authentically contributing to networked bodies of knowledge.

Networks Build Connections
Sharing online provides the opportunity for collaboration and learning with others. Engaging in open communities connects learners with authentic audiences and can increase learner motivation.

Builds Information Literacies
Finding, selecting, evaluating open resources supports information literacy development including knowledge about: intellectual property, copyright and open licenses, and information security.

Learning by Teaching
Learners become active participants in their education.

Learners engage in teaching each other which helps to build knowledge and clarify any gaps in their own understanding.

What are OER (Open Educational Resources)?

“Open education” encompasses a number of different activities in education. One useful definition of open education defines open education as a “collection of practices that utilize online technology to freely share knowledge.” At the core of Open Education is open educational resources (OER), which are teaching, learning, and research resources that are free of cost and access barriers, and carry legal permission for open use. At the University of Alberta we anchor our definition of open to David Wiley's 5 Rs: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, and Redistribute. To achieve this criteria, learning materials must be openly licensed.

Openly licensing material through Creative Commons allows faculty and students to freely adapt learning materials to suit their teaching and learning needs. OER may include textbooks, video, audio, images, websites, journal articles, and more.

This definition of Open Education has been adapted from the BC Campus Open Education Adoption Guide 2nd Edition.

Editing and Sharing Teaching Materials

Learn about OER and Copyright in an episode from CTL’s Teaching Plus Podcast.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are intended to be easily accessible and reusable. Integrating an existing OER into your curriculum doesn’t need to be a solo process. Instructional Designers and Librarians can provide guidance and help you incorporate open resources into your course.

Creative Commons (Open) Licenses

Typically, OERs are licensed under an open licensing system, the most popular being the Creative Commons (CC) licensing system. The Creative Commons is an “open” license that allows others to reuse, adapt, and re-publish content. CC allows creators to explain, in plain language, how their works can be used by the broader community.  

The Four Components of Creative Commons Licenses:


Attribution (BY)

Proper attribution must be given to the original creator of the work


Noncommercial (NC)

The work cannot be used for commercial means such as for-profit advertising


No Derivative Works (ND)

The work cannot be altered or “remixed.” Only identical copies of the work can be redistributed without additional permission from the creator. 


Share Alike (SA)

Iterations of the original work must be made available under the same license terms.

Image Source 

These elements are combined to create a total of six creative commons licenses, all of which can be viewed on the CC website.  Choosing a Creative Commons license can be confusing at first. Thankfully, the organization has created an online tool that will help you choose your license. The tool will also generate a licensing logo and statement to paste into your teaching materials.

For guidance on open licensing and sharing your teaching materials, please contact the Copyright Office at copyright@ualberta.ca or raise this topic during teaching consultation with CTL at ctl@ualberta.ca.  

OE Publishing at University of Alberta Library

Pressbooks is a simple publishing software for the authoring and publication of multimedia-rich print books, ebooks, and web books. The published books are shareable in multiple formats including pdf, epub, and mobi and can easily be adapted and updated using the Pressbooks software. In addition, the University of Alberta’s Pressbooks service also supports H5P. H5P is a plugin for existing publishing systems that enables the system to create interactive content like Interactive Videos, Presentations, Games, Quizzes and more

For more information about Pressbooks and the University of Alberta’s OER Publishing program contact library.publishing@ualberta.ca

Sources and Additional Reading


The content of this section is a compiled from various open resources:

  1. University of British Columbia, Teaching in the Open. Retrieved from: https://open.ubc.ca/education/toolkits-education/teach-in-the-open/ licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
  2. Christiansen, E., & McNutt, K. (2016). ABOER Starter Kit. Retrieved from: albertaoer.com licensed under a CC-BY Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
  3. University of Alberta Library, Open Educational Resources Libguide, Retrieved from: https://guides.library.ualberta.ca/open-educational-resources

Additional Resources

  1. Bates, Tony (2019), Chapter 11.4 Open Pedagogy, Retrieved from: https://www.tonybates.ca/2019/09/26/chapter-11-4-open-pedagogy/
  2. Athabasca University, BOLT Multi-Authored Blog, The Open Pedagogy Model (podcast), Retrieved from: http://bolt.athabascau.ca/index.php/podcast/the-open-pedagogy-model/
  3. Hendricks, Christina (2017), Navigating Open Pedagogy Part 1, Retrieved from: http://blogs.ubc.ca/chendricks/2017/05/22/navigating-open-pedagogy-pt1/
  4. University of Alberta Library, OER Libguide,
  5. BCcampus, What is open pedagogy,