Open Access (OA) is a form of publishing in which works have "free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of [...] articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself" (Budapest Open Access Initiative, 2002).
Open access is particularly important in the context of research and education, as it ensures that knowledge is promptly available to users, without embargoes or access costs.
Open educational resources (OERs) are free materials that are in the public domain or use a licence (usually a Creative Commons licence) that establishes how they can be shared, distributed, revised, or remixed. OERs can include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge (William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, n.d.).
True OERs should be made in ways that allow adaptations, granting anyone the ability to build or modify the original content as long as credit is given to the creator. To meet this requirement, OERs should comply with the "5Rs of Openness" (Wiley, 2014) : retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute.
The 5 Rs of OER
To know more:
OERs and open access are closely related, but they are not exactly same thing. Open access can be viewed as a broad group containing various forms of freely accessible works, including items in the public domain, OERs, free cultural works, materials that are fully copyrighted (depending on licencing terms), and also items that have a NonDerivative licence -- in other words, works that are not authorized to receive modifications.
OERs, on the other hand, are a type of open access resource that is licenced in a way to allow modifications to the original work. This means that NonDerivative licences do not apply to OERs. The image below helps illustrate these concepts:
"Mapping of terms to copyright licenses" is in the Public Domain
Open Access can offer several advantages to faculty and students. Probably the most obvious advantages are cost, ease of access to research, and better communication/distribution of knowledge.
Budapest Open Access Initiative. (2002). Read the declaration. https://www.budapestopenaccessinitiative.org/read/
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. (n.d). Open Educational Resources. http://www.hewlett.org/programs/education/open-educational-resources
Wiley, D. (2014). The Access compromise and the 5th R. Improving learning. https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/3221