Open Educational Resources (OER)

Information, guidance, and support for using Open Education Resources


About OER

Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open licence, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others (UNESCO Recommendation on OER, 2019).

Open Educational Resources (OER) can complement the existing paid-for resources on your reading list, and allow you to customise and re-use content in a way that’s not permissible with commercial teaching material.

The University Library is exploring the possibilities that OER offer teaching staff in ways which support the core principles of our content strategy (specifically, supporting open scholarship, seeking sustainable solutions, and investing in diverse resources).

OER also support the Education Vision Pillar priority of delivering a rich, multifaceted and inclusive digital teaching and learning environment that supports excellent and inspiring teaching by providing students with material that is diverse and easily accessible.

The University of Sheffield OER Policy

The University supports and encourages the re-use, re-purposing and adaptation of existing OER to support teaching and learning, and also supports and encourages those who wish to create and share their own OER. This aligns with the ACP for Senior University Teachers, Senior Lecturers and Professors

OER are consistent with the University Vision for Education, in that they can contribute to an inclusive digital learning environment that enables all students to engage effectively in their learning. They may also support future employability and lifelong learning after graduation.

The use of OER aligns the University with the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

This policy along with guidance is available from the governance web page under ‘intellectual property’. 

Supporting you to use and create OER

White Rose Libraries OER Toolkit 

Created with colleagues at Leeds and York, with the aim of providing more information about using, adapting, creating and licensing OER in your teaching and research.


The Library has an institutional subscription to the Pressbooks authoring and editing tool, enabling you to modify existing open content or write new content and publish it on the Sheffield Pressbooks Network. You can browse the global list of Pressbooks titles in the Pressbooks Directory. Please get in touch with us via if you would like to discuss using Pressbooks.

Open Textbook Library 

The Open Textbook Library (OTL) is overseen by the Open Education Network (OEN), both established at the University of Minnesota. The OTL currently contains over 1150 open textbooks across a range of disciplines, all licensed to be freely used and adapted. Around 75% of the books have been reviewed by members of the OEN Community, helping teachers and students to evaluate suitability for their own teaching and learning. The University of Sheffield is the first UK member of the OEN, and membership will enable colleagues at the University of Sheffield to submit their own reviews, which will be of value to other institutions in the UK. If you’d like to review a title in the OTL please email us at

Funding for OER initiatives

The Library is making funding available for teaching staff who are interested in taking a further look at OER, whether that’s exploring existing open educational resources or creating new ones. Examples include:

  • Identifying and reviewing an existing open textbook and using it as key module reading in place of a commercial textbook
  • Identifying an existing open textbook and adapting it to suit local (Sheffield or wider UK) curriculum needs, using the Sheffield Pressbooks Network or other appropriate open platform 
  • Adapting your existing teaching material, or creating new material, and publishing it in the Sheffield Pressbooks Network or other open platform.

An open textbook is one with a CC BY licence or a CC BY-SA (or by exception, a CC BY-NC or CC BY-NC-SA). Material with a NonDerivative licence is ineligible for support under this initiative because it does not align with the principles of OER.

The funding amounts available range from £150 to £5000, payable to your department. If you have an idea for a project in the area of OER that doesn’t fit into one of the categories above, talk to us about how the Library might support you. Successful applicants include:

  • Alex Best from the School of Mathematics and Statistics for his proposal for a Mathematical Biology textbook.
  • Kyuin Kim from the School of East Asian Studies for her proposal for a textbook called “How to Teach Korean (Language) in Fluent English”.

Contact us 

If you would like to discuss open educational resources further or find out more about these initiatives, please contact us at

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