How to introduce OER and Creative Commons in your School

This post contains a learning reflection about using creative commons licenses that I had to write for the micro Open Online Course OCL4Ed (Activity 4.1).

A bit of history


OER Logo (source: Wikimedia) This file is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship.

Since some years ago I started to read about Open Eucational Resources (OER). This term was first adopted at UNESCO‘s 2002 Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries according to Wikipedia.

The goal behind the OER concept is to promote the creation of open reusable pieces of content to be used as educational resources. In addition these OER must be free in order to facilitate their re-use and re-mix without restrictions. Another important concept behind OER initiative is sharing. If people don’t share their works there wouldn’t be OER available.

OER Commons and many other initiatives try to encourage teachers, students and educational institutions to create OER resources and share them globally. There are nowadays in internet many repositories for OER where concerned people about this issue submit their own work to make them publicly available.

When we talk about OER we need also to talk about copyright. We must know that, by default, when we publish our work in internet it will be protected by a ‘all rights reserved‘ copyright license. It means that, if nothing is said about the copyright of our work it can be freely accessible but it won’t be a OER because it’s not openly licensed yet.

Larry Lessig. Source: Wikipedia
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

To deal with copyright issues and to revert this ‘all rights reserved’ situation in 2001 Lawrence «Larry» Lessig founded a non-profit organization called Creative Commons (CC). Creative Commons proposed a set of new copyright-licenses free of charge for the public that broke the old and simple duality between »all rights reserved’ and the opposite ‘public domain‘ licenses.

The emergence and growth of the CC licenses benefited the OER initiative largely. Never before was as easy as it’s now to deal with copyright licenses and free thanks to the CC licenses. Therefore we can create from scratch our own OER, use already existing OER or remix them to create new derivatives OER

If we decide to share our own OER we’ll have to choose among a set of six regularly used licenses for them. From the most open or less restrictive CC license (CC BY) to the less open or most restrictive (CC BY-NC-ND). Creative Common has an useful page to help us to choose the right the CC license and provide us with the icon and the HTML code to add to our OER.


Our mission

Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.

Source: License: Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

If we use an alien OER remixed with our own content to create a new OER, the new one will be a derivative OER. OER created with alien resources need to be licenses carefully to not breach already existing licenses. For example, if we use a picture which has been licensed as CC BY -NC (notice the added restriction -NC that means ‘Non Commercial‘) we can’t forget that that –NC restriction will affect now to all my work.

How can we introduce OER and Creative Commons topics at Schools?

First of all we should start talking about all of this with our people (colleagues, friends, relatives). For some of our colleagues (teachers, students or even organisations) this issue is completely new. Spreading out their meaning and philosophy is, in my opinion the first and the easiest step to make people around aware of this.

Attribution: By Blink Tower (Why Open Education Matters (WebCite archive)) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Pete Forsyth License: CC BY 3.0

Next (second) step would be starting to reflect on how many documents we create annually which can be labelled as an educational resource. Apart from using the traditional books all teachers usually edit sometimes their own exercises, conceptual maps, presentations, images, etc. Sometimes we even record videos or edit online pages in the school or personal platforms (blogs, LMS, eportfolios). Identifying our own digital artefacts should lead us to choose the right ‘candidate’ to be converted in our first and genuine OER. The goal must be simple: Just create one OER please!

The same would apply for student’s works but I do believe that it’s never a good idea to ask students to do something that you (as a teacher) has never done it before. So that’s why I’d postpone the creation of student’s OER to later on.

We should admit that creating a genuine OER is not as easy as it looks like. Certain digital competences are needed to carry out the required task. For example, one must be able to find free and open educational resources in internet. Where to search for? How can we check if actually is it a free resource? That are the usual questions that will soon come up. Provide links to OER repositories is essential because we all need examples.

Once all the right free for use OER have been collected, a new question will arise: Now what? What’s the right edition tool to create digital (and maybe multimedia) artefacts? JPG or PNG? AVI or WMV?

OER community usually expresses a preference for open file formats and ‘containers‘ and opensource software. Open ‘containers‘ means for example content written in HTML language instead of embedded in the widespread but not opensource PDF format. I’m not going to extent myself about this topic because it’s out of the scope of this post. But let me mention a good and easy to use opensource tool to create OER called eXelearning. As they say:

«eXeLearning is an Open Source authoring application to assist teachers and academics in the publishing of web content.»

Source: (Note that this is a definition from an external resource published under all rights reserved copyright.)

If you have time have a look to it. It’s worthwhile!

Assuming that the first and genuine OER has been finally created re-using and even mixing already existing OER, it would be the time to choose the license. As I already mentioned, the creative commons choose license page will help us in doing that correctly.

By Creative Commons Japan ( [CC-BY-2.1-jp (], via Wikimedia Commons

We haven’t finished yet. License it’s not the end yet. At that moment we would only have a derivative educational resource but still not open. It would be fine to self-use the OER for teaching but meanwhile it’s not shared it won’t be totally open.

Exchange our personal OER with our colleagues and friends could be the next step. Maybe we are afraid of sharing globally because we think that our OER is not good enough. That’s why I suggest that sharing initially in closed circles should be the way to go. Doing this first attempt to exchange will make us more confident to later on upload an OER to a local, regional, national or worldwide repository.

Por Marc Falzon (Definition of Free Cultural Works wiki [1]) [Public domain]

By Aurelio A. Heckert <> ( [FAL, GFDL 1.2 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ll write a second part of this article to go on deploying this plan. Topics like Free Cultural Works, what are the best licenses for an OER and how to involve students to create OER are pending for the next post.

And that’s all for now. Maybe it’s easy to say and much more difficult to do but it’s just a personal opinion about how to introduce these topics at Schools. I know that some of you didn’t agree with me when I said that I wouldn’t ask my student to create a OER if I haven’t done it in advance. Of course it’s no mandatory neither to create an OER nor share it. OER are out there just to be used. If you find some useful OER for you, take it and use it in your own benefit. Nobody will demand you to do nothing if it’s really a genuine OER. No new returned OER will be demanded. That said, it would be great if you could help in spreading the OER and Creative Commons existence and philosophy for the benefits of all.

Is this blog post an OER?

If you find this post useful for teaching and/or learning then this post is a Educational Resource. As you noticed I used images, text and video from other sites to compose this post. I linked to external URL, I display logos and pictures from different sites and I embedded a video from an external site. Below is the list of all open resources used for this post and their licenses:

  • OER logo from Wikimedia. Public Domain PD
  • Larry Lessig picture form Wikimedia. CC -BY
  • Extract cited from Creative Commons web site. CC -BY
  • Video embedded from Wikimedia. CC -BY
  • Extract cited from eXelearning WEB site. All rights reserved
  • Image from Wikimedia (Author: Pete Forsyth) CC -BY
  • Image for Creative Commons Japan. CC-BY-2.1-jp
  • Free Cultural Works logo. Public Domain PD
  • GNU logo (SVG format). CC-BY-SA-2.0

This post is delivered through an open-source software called WordPress and it’s hosted in my own dedicated server. Icon buttons linked to popular socialmedia sites are excluded form the open license of this post. The open content of this post starts at the title and ends at the license paragraph.

To convert this post into an Open Educational Resource I’m going to license this work under a a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Thanks in advance for reading, feel invited to comment and please, forgive my poor level of English.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

3 comentarios

  1. Pingback: How to introduce OER and Creative Commons in yo...

  2. Pingback: How to introduce OER and Creative Commons in your School | Blog de Toni Soto | Debs OER Journey

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