LIDA103 Definition of OER

Nice explanations. I agree with you.

When I authored a MOOC (What and How to Teach with Video) in 2017, I included video clips from ten different sources. One of these gave permission on the understanding that their material would not be used for profit.
But I learn from this course (LIDA103) that " restricting the right to earn a living from OER can be considered a material restriction of the essential freedoms and rights to redistribute OER. Consequently the OER Foundation does not advocate the use of the non-commercial restriction as in the case of some OER projects"
It therefore appears to me that my MOOC could not satisfy the OER definition of true OER

Thanks for your answer.

Regarding ALSM framewrok, I haven´t found further information about that, only this document from 2010:

However, I think it is really important to have it in mind when creating OER.

Is it updated? Do you know if it has any translation into Spanish? I can´t find anything. Otherwise I would like to translate it!

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Dear @cvaldera

I haven’t seen many articles referencing the ALMS framework, I think David’s Opencontent blog is the most accessible version. It’s licensed CC-BY - so nothing stopping you from translating to Spanish if you find it useful for the communities you serve.


I ran across this article: Toward a Critical Approach for OER: A Case Study in Removing the ‘Big Five’ from OER Creation by Kris Joseph
that brings in the ALMS framework in the context of the relationship between open educational content creation and the use of the Big Five technology companies (Apple, Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft). The tension lies between the pragmatism of using what is available and ubiquitous vs. what is truly open. Is there an implicit OER “purity test” in the minds of some? To me we can’t allow the good intentions of idealistic purity from keeping us pursuing what is a common good for the many, even though we will at times be soiled around the edges by the Big Five, or whatever else threatens openness.

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Provoking questions and not sure I have all the answers. Admittedly, I do not use proprietary software as a matter of choice.

However, this enables the OER Foundation to focus on demonstrating viable solutions based entirely on free and open source software without reliance on any Big Five technology company solutions. For institutions and governments who would like to reduce vendor dependencies - we can show how this is done.

When thinking about public goods like education, the corporate providers are already given an unfair advantage by national government mandated “all rights reserved” copyright. Open is not the default ;-).

Interesting questions and challenges. Thanks for sharing.


There are many educators and organizations who comfortable with the application of the non-commercial restriction, and these resources would still meet the broad definition of OER imo. Frequently, the only way to get permissions for reuse is if commercial use is restricted.

The OER Foundation is an organization founded on the principles of the essential freedoms, as a values-based approach to what we use as “OER” - and to be fair, not everyone agrees with our perspective.

That said, there are pragmatic solutions for addressing these different perspectives on the non-commercial restriction, while still respecting the views of the copyright holder. For example:

  • An OERu wrap-around course could be based on a CC-BY-NC textbook. We wouldn’t host the textbook on our servers (because that is against our internal policies) but we can provide links for learners to download the text book.
  • In the case of discrete objects, like videos and images - It is possible to incorporate those creative works within a larger collection, as long as those resources retain the original licensing permissions. are clearly defined and attributed. For example, this video is licensed CC-BY-SA-NC. The course licensing statement could say something like these resources are licensed under a CC-BY-SA license, unless specific otherwise.

OER is not unlike the real world, not everyone agrees but we do our best to respect the choices organisations and educators make ;-).

Thanks. This is an interesting paper. The Joseph McNally study (2020) says:

The analysis reveals that software from the Big Five technology companies (Apple, Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft) are deeply embedded in OER production and distribution, and that complete elimination of software or services from these companies is not feasible

I’m a little surprised by this and it makes me wonder about the independence of the study.

I use propriety software because I work in an organization that uses this software. Otherwise, there would be no need. I am able to use open source for everything I do outside of this professional and collaborative context, and I would be able to do so at work too, if colleagues also used open source and if the organization committed to it.

To say “it is not feasible” seems far fetched to me. I suspect that, in fact, people aren’t willing to be bothered about it because they are unaware of the price they actually pay for using propriety products.

There was once a Dutch shoemaker who made his wooden shoes in just such a way as to subtly bend and shape the feet of his customers. With time their feet grew to like his shoes and anyone who switched to wearing shoes of another shoemaker would be met with crippling pain.

I think this is the Apple business model, but it isn’t unique to them. It is the story of all propriety software. This is not open. It is not free. And, using it makes US less free in a range of different ways.

Joseph, K., Guy, J., & McNally, M. B. (2020). Toward a Critical Approach for OER: A Case Study in Removing the ‘Big Five’from OER Creation. Open Praxis , 11 (4), 355-367.


That is a very interesting paper. I tend to agree with @markjohnstone’s question: was this really independent analysis, or perhaps designed to head off concerns about the inordinate power enjoyed by these five business entities of unparalleled size and global influence… It almost looks like a way to justify continued investment in the Big 5, because trying to do otherwise is both impossible, but perhaps also elitist! Hmm. I think the use of “neoliberal” and other political labels is unhelpful without properly defining each label and why it’s applied in this scenario. Also the idea of “purist” approaches and complete elimination being unjustifiable is a bit of a strawman - it doesn’t address the desire by many to reduce the dependence on and influence of these 5 US business entities. I think a very compelling case can be made to “actively avoid using the Big 5” at every possible opportunity, without impinging on the effectiveness (or any of the Rs) of any resulting OERs.


Yes. I agree. I don’t think propriety avoidance is so much about “purity,” - as the paper’s authors say - as it is about awareness of real cost to the user. MS had an outrageous policy for years of deprecating software and forcing users to pay for upgrades. For the user this means that when you buy a product license, you have no idea what your cost will be in the end. Using the product becomes less like owning a hammer and more like carrying a rolling debt; and as long as you are tied to the product, you will not be free of this debt.

Now, I have no objection to people subscribing to services. But, consumers should be aware that they have not bought, and do not own, but pay for a temporary usufruct that may be withdrawn from them at any time. I suspect they have a legal right to know this. Telling folks that they have no alternative, and that freedom from this is just “not feasible” is not an academic argument: it’s a defense of vested interests.

OER is free in two ways: it is gratis, and it is liberating.


This is an interesting case, if I understand it correctly. Jackoumi says that they have included videos in a MOOC and obtained NC permission for at least one of them. The restriction prevents Jackoumi from deriving any material benefit from having built and delivered the MOOC. The solution would be to remove the artifact, which may deprecate the value of the MOOC, or forego any benefit that may accrue from the labour.

In what way is NC designation “Open”? I can reuse it, revise it, remix it, redistribute it, but I must donate my time and effort for my work. For many, I think, this would be a deal-breaker. Someone has said, “You may use this but you may not benefit from the use”. So, what is the point?

I don’t have the detail of Jack’s implementation - but it would be possible to link to the video artifact if hosted elsewhere. Not ideal, but a pragmatic workaround.

Good questions regarding openness. Speaking personally, NC is not open for me because it restricts freedoms for downstream users to potentially earn a living.

By the same token, I have a personal preference for copyleft licensing (which is arguably a deterrent to commercial exploitation of OER and it encourages users to add real value for services, but release back any modifications/improvements to the content). I must recognise that Sharealike is also a restriction of freedom for downstream users, they can earn a living using these resources, but if they modify and improve them, they must release these improvements back to the commons. I think this is the “lesser of two evils” when it comes to promoting user freedoms ;-).

The NC-SA restriction gets messy because there is no universal definition of what constitutes commercial activity. In practice, the definition of “non-commercial” is determined by the copyright holder. Some may deem assessment services by public funded universities as non-commercial, whereas others may say that if money changes hands, that is a commercial activity. It gets messy when you try to remix to NC-SA resources together because of the additional transactional cost to determine if the two definitions of NC are equivalent in order to satisfy SA requirements. Not worth the extra work and cost, so we avoid the complications of NC here at OERu.

I have read many papers (and reviewed a lot of them) in which the authors compare the pedagogic effectiveness of different media. In particular, when a paper discusses video (comparing different designs of video or comparing video with other media), I have some general issues, one of which concerns OER, as follows.
It is very rare for such a paper to provide a link to the video(s) under discussion (instead merely giving a text description of the video, sometimes with a screenshot or two). In that case, can the paper purport to be an OER?

Hi @jackkoumi

Apology for delayed response - timezone differences are not ideal.

With regards to your question relating to the paper, if it is published gratis and uses a copyright license which grants at least the 4R permissions, then it would be considered OER by most definitions.

As a media professional, I can see why you would find a mere link to the video less than ideal, but there may be other issues which prevent embedding the video in the research paper. For example: editorial policy, particularly of print-based journals that provide an alternate electronic copy where its not possible to incorporate video; or where national copyright provisions for fair dealing for fair dealing are not sufficient for publishing the video under the exemptions of parody, satire or criticism.

The complication here is that the copyright of the video is discrete from the copyright of the paper, and normal exceptions under fair dealing, e.g. quotations with attribution for academic purposes are not sufficient for incorporating a copy of the video. Of course, if the video was openly licensed, this would be a different matter depending on the permissions and/or restrictions of the video license.

Lots to think about in the context of media, copyright and pedagogy in relation to OER.

Thanks Dr Wayne, the ALMS framework is summarized in the David Wiley’s open content blog.
Access to tools, Level of expertise, Meaningfully editable and Self-sourced are the technological choices which decide on the degree of activities for users permitted on OERs.

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#LiDA103: I support the proposal that OER should be accessible to all users. Also users should have the capacity to edit the content for their own purposes. This way people will attain more freedom to use content and equally make it available for the benefit of everyone. Although may challenges in some situations with this freedom this could be resolved amicably without undermining any rights. Thanks:-).

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I find that there is a plethora of information on Open Educational Resources but less literature on the promotion and implementation for researchers/educators in applying creative commons licences for content to be reused, remixed or shared online. I think further promotion is needed on what happens if a condition of a creative commons license is breached or whether a creator decides to change the licensing conditions of their work. I was also wondering if there was much literature on lawsuits where the creator had won their case regarding upholding an existing creative commons license?

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I appreciate many of the comments in this discussion that point out that OER is actually not entirely binary. Like most things in life, it is a spectrum. I can understand why someone might choose a CC-BY-ND license in some circumstances while I might prefer to choose a CC-BY-SA. In education it sometimes feels less likely that your work will be used nefariously, but I can also see why there might be reluctance in some circumstances to allow for complete remixing of something that you are creating that might touch upon controversial topics or be culturally sensitive. By choosing ND, are you limiting the possibility that your work would be remixed in support of something you might actually disagree with? I’m not sure, but it feels complicated.

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LiDA103: Adding a 5th R in the OER framework as proposed by Wiley is a useful contribution – “Retain: the right to make, own and control copies of the content” (David Wiley, 2014). This can potentially provide a much more better way of sharing information and providing access for both authors and users so that the original owners of the information do not miss out completely:-).

#LiDA103 This section is another eye-opener to acquiring knowledge in OERs. One good example of OERs is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association in which its original version is feerly available online and we still have it in other formats. I have the print copy of this book that’s still cheaper than the real hard copy which is usually in colour. I think with respect to the OERs being accessible at no-cost and with its original version still equally freely available, APA is a typical example of OERs.

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