The term "Open Source" refers to any freely available item which you can use and modify as you see fit. The first "open" materials were predominantly software programs, and were published under a GNU General Public License. Software programs were released as "open source" programs, with source code that the user could modify, as early as 1991.
If you're interested in viewing a full timeline of Open Source software development, we recommend the following:
Open Educational Resources (OERs) expand on the "open source" concept. OER materials include:
OERs include all materials used for teaching, learning, assessing, and researching.
OER materials are typically free, but the author ultimately dictates what can and cannot be done with an OER material placed online.
It's important to remember that these resources may be free, but still have an accompanying LICENSE which dictates the material's use.
The most common form of license is a Creative Commons license. Many creators choose to go through Creative Commons to create a license for their work because the stipulations are pre-written based on a set of criteria chosen by the creator.
The following provides a description of the types of Creative Commons licenses available:
Another form of licensing for OER materials is the Public Domain license. Think of the two types of licenses like this:
Creative Commons licensing allows you to retain your own rights to the material, while making it available for others to use under certain conditions.
Public Domain licensing is like a donation for the good of the order. It allows anyone who already holds a copyright on a work to place it on the web for anyone to use or alter, without restrictions, in essence giving up their rights to the material under U.S. Copyright law.
If you'd like an expanded introduction to copyright, we recommend also visiting the library's copyright page.
Some common misconceptions of OER include: