OER Glossary

Glossaries for Open Educational Resources have been developed widely for online use. Please take a look at the below links for definitions to help you with defining OER.

Additional Resources


Ancillary Materials 

Resources, services, and materials developed by textbook publishers to enhance student learning and increase the value of the textbook.  Ancillary materials include, but are not limited to, multimedia CD-ROMs, special websites, uniquely tailored classrooms within course management systems, exercises, Internet study guides, and Internet tutorial quizzes.  (Bober-Michel)


Articulation System Stimulating Interinstitutional Student Transfer 


Usually means identifying who has originally created a published work - may be a requirement of a license if an item is repurposed or re-used.  (OS



Business Case 



Creative Commons Attribution license. OER licensed CC-BY can be modified, used commercially and may or may not be shared in the same manner, provided credit is given to the author.


Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license. OER licensed CC-BY-NC can be modified and may or may not be shared in the same manner, but credit must be given to the author and it cannot be used commercially.


Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. OER licensed CC-BY-NC-SA can be modified, but must be credit must be given to the author. Additionally, it may not be used commercially and must be shared in the same manner.


Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommerical-No derivatives. OER licensed CC-BY-NC-ND cannot be modified or used commercially. It may or may not be shared in the same manner and credit must be given to the author.


Creative Commons Attribution-No derivatives license. OER licensed CC-BY-ND may or may not be shared in the same manner, can be used commercially, but credit must be given to the author and it cannot be modified.


Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. OER licensed CC-BY-SA may be modified and used commercially, provided credit is given to the author and it is shared in the same manner. This license is somewhat similar to the GFDL.


Centre for Educational Technology and Interoperability Standards 


California Course Identification Numbering System 


California Open Education Resources Council


California Open Online Library -- repository of open-source textbooks and education materials. 


A legal concept  that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time, with the intention of enabling the creator of intellectual wealth to receive compensation for their work and be able to financially support themselves. (Wiki


California Open Source Digital Library 



Creative Commons 

The non-profit organization that manages a set of open content licenses. (WE

Creative Commons License 

Creative Commons Licenses are applied to published work online and offer simple and clear information about what other people can and can't do with that work. (OS

Digital Item Identification (DII) 

A digital Item is the basic unit of transaction in the MPEG-21 framework. It is a structured digital object, including a standard representation, identification and metadata.  Digital Item Identification (DII) specifications include how to identify Digital Items uniquely and how  to distinguish different types of items. (Wiki

Dublin Core 

The Dublin Core Metadata Element Set is a set of fifteen generic elements for describing resources. Today the Dublin Core is a formal standard, used in countless implementations, and one of the top metadata vocabularies on the Web. (DC

Fair Use 

The legal term  for allowing use of copyrighted materials under certain allowable conditions without permission from the copyright holder. (CR


User generated classification system that often uses tags to describe content. (Wiki


The smaller (more granular) an educational resource is, the smaller the chunk of information within it. 


Intersegmental Committee of the Academic Senates 


Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum 

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) 

The legally recognized exclusive rights to creations of the mind. Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets. Common types of intellectual property rights include copyright. (Wiki


Between the three segments of higher education in the state of California: University of California; California State University; and California Community College. 

Learning Object 

A digital resource that can be reused to enhance teaching and learning. (WE


The process of choosing and assigning a license to an open educational resource by the original creator of that resource. OER creators can choose from several licenses offered by organizations such as Creative Commons—with the license typically stipulating the conditions under which that resource can be used, shared, adapted, or distributed by other users.


The process through which educational resources are adapted to meet local teaching and learning needs. Resource localization might entail, e.g., translating a lesson plan into another language, removing parts of a course module that are too complex for a given set of students.(OERC)


Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching 


Basic descriptive data about an educational resource, which help users more easily find and use the resource. It is “data about data,” or attributes that describe the data, and includes descriptors such as title, language, author, and grade level, creation date, etc.

No Derivatives (ND) 

Creative Commons license condition that lets others copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of a creative work, not derivative works based on it.

Non-commercial (NC) 

Non-Commercial(NC): Creative Commons license condition that allows others to copy, distribute, display and perform a creative work - and derivative works based on it - but for non-commercial purposes only.

Non-restrictive License 

A license that allows creators to communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators. Creative Commons (CC) licenses do not replace copyright, but are based upon it.  CC has 4 major condition modules that, when combined, create tailored use licenses. (Wiki) 


OpenCourseWare generally pertains to higher education online or digital courses delivery. 


Open Education Resources:  Teaching and learning materials that are freely available online for everyone to use, whether you are an instructor, student, or self-learner. Examples of OER include: course modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, lab and classroom activities, pedagogical materials, games, simulations, and many more resources contained in digital media collections from around the world.

Open Access 

A publishing model whereby authors make their content freely available with publishing costs met by authors or the institution to which they are affiliated. (OS

Open Source 

Software to which the programmer(s) allow access to the 'source code' or programming language. Anyone is free to use and/or modify this code for their own purposes. (OS

Open Textbook 

Digitized textbooks freely available with nonrestrictive licenses. (OERC

Peer Production 

The process of online, collaborative content creation by peers, most often facilitated through an authoring platform or wiki. The project Free High School Science Texts, which draws on online volunteers and a collaborative authoring platform to create free-to-use textbooks for South African schools, is one example of the peer production process.



Public Domain 

A work of authorship is in the “public domain” if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner. (CR


Resource Description Framework is the standard model for data interchange on the Web. RDF has features that facilitate data merging even if the underlying schemas differ, and it specifically supports the evolution of schemas over time without requiring all the data consumers to be changed. (W3C


Adapting a work for your own use. (OERC


Make use of a resource as it is, for the original purpose intended. (OS) Alternatively, the adaptation, remixing or modification of OER for new and/or local purposes. (OERC


A place for storage and retrieval of digital resources. 


Make use of a resource either after modification or for a purpose other than that for which it was originally created.  (OS

SB 1052 

This is the California Senate bill authorizing creation of the California Open Education Resources Council. 

SB 1053 

This is the California Senate bill authorizing creation of the California Open Source Digital Library.

Share Alike (SA) 

Creative Commons license condition that allows others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs the original work.


A user-generated classification system for educational resources, and frequently serve as an alternative or addition to a top down, expert-created classification system. Tags are words assigned to resources by the users of those resources. For example, one user of a lesson plan about the Spanish influenza of 1918 might assign a tag such as flu, while another might assign a tag such as pandemic. Once assigned by users, tags are tied to the given resource, and become a searchable way to find that resource as well as other resources that are tagged or associated with the same labels. (OERC

Tag Cloud 

A visual representation for text data, typically used to depict keyword metadata on websites, or to visualize free form text. Tags are usually single words, and the importance of each tag is shown with font size or color. This format is useful for quickly perceiving the most prominent terms. (Wiki


A manual of instruction in any branch of study.  Online and digital materials are making it increasingly easy for students to access materials other than the traditional print textbook. Students now have access to electronic and PDF books, online tutoring systems and video lectures.  (Wiki


Uniform Resource Links (or Locators) are better known as web addresses. 

URL Pointer

The web address where shared materials are stored.  (OERC


A web application that allows people to add, modify, or delete content in collaboration with others. Text is usually written using a simplified markup language or a rich-text editor.   A wiki is a type of content management system in which content is created without any defined owner or leader, and wikis have little implicit structure, allowing structure to emerge according to the needs of the users. (WE

This project concluded in May 2016. See COOL4Ed for information about the subsequent project, AB 798 (Bonilla).


Support provided by the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Gates Foundation to match the State of California’s funding, mandated by SB 1052 and SB 1053