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Philosophy: Open Educational Resources (OER)

Guide listing relevant resources in Philosophy.

What are OER?

According to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation: 

“Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

About OER

  OER defined  

"Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions" -- The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

  Examples of OER  
Types of OER include (but are not limited to) textbooks, journal articlessyllabi, podcasts, lesson plans, learning modules, lab experiments, simulations, course videos, discussion prompts, assignments, assessments, library guides, and course design templates. In short, OER are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others

  OER for Instructors  
Instructors  use  OER in their classes: — showing YouTube videos, using worksheets created and shared by other instructors, and using online simulations as learning activities. Instructors can also create and share syllabi, lesson plans, and even full textbooks for their courses. They can collaborate with instructors at their own institutions, or other institutions around the world. They can access and remix existing OER and republish them to share with others.

Source: "Understanding OER." by SUNY OER Services, OER Community Course is licensed under CC BY 4.0

  Potential benefits of OER  
  • Saves costs and grants access to more quality choices
    ​​Students enjoy savings from accessing free quality materials developed by faculty, experts and leading institutions. OER programs have reported that students enjoyed huge savings on the cost of their education.
  • Lifelong learning
    Because OER are open, they allow students to return to course content again and again -- before and after courses.
  • More clarity/certainty regarding reuse of materials
    You will have peace of mind especially if you’re re-using someone else’s materials. The resources are licensed to allow sharing of content. You need not contact the author for permission to use of his/her work as long as it falls within the ‘open’ license.
  • Customize contents to meet specific teaching needs
    OER are fully revisable and remixable and this allows for freedom to revise materials as well as the flexibility to combine parts of resources to ensure that materials are contextualized to a specific course.
  • Increasing support for "plug and play" resources 
    For instructors who have little time to adapt resources, OER projects like OpenStax and the Open Learning Initiative (Carnegie Mellon) are increasingly making "packaged" resources available. Packaged resources include textbooks with accompanying ancillary resources (slides, clicker exercises, learning materials).
  • Student-driven, multi modal learning
    OER are one way of engaging students more deeply in the educational process, moving beyond lecture and text. Open education gives instructors the tools to involve students in the creation of learning materials.

Adapted from the Open Educational Resources (OER): Tools for Affordable LearningWashington State University LibGuide.

"The terms 'Open Content' and 'Open Educational Resources' describe any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like 'Open Source') that is either in the public domain or  licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the following 5R activities":


This material is based on original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 4.0. license at

  Characteristics of a good OER  

  • Searchable – it can be in multiple locations
  • Clearly described
  • Clearly licensed (normally through Creative Commons)
  • From a source you trust
  • Easy to modify
  • Free-standing – it does not assume knowledge of other resources
  • Free of copyright content
  • Being used by/recommended by people like you
  • Imperfect – it just needs to work for you.

Adpated from: The Open University. OpenLearn. Creating open educational resources. What makes a good OER?

OER in Philosophy

Repositories, comprising Articles, Books, Journals and Other Sources

  • Digital Commons Network : Philosophy  -  Curated by university librarians and their supporting institutions, this dynamic research tool includes peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, dissertations, working papers, conference proceedings, and other original scholarly work
  •  Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)  Browse Subjecyts - Journals and their articles are categorised by subject classification.Type a keyword or click the arrows in the tree to expand and collapse for more on the subject. 
  • MERLOT -   MERLOT is a curated collection of free and open online teaching, learning, and faculty development services contributed and used by an international education community.Philosophy as a subject is covered. 
  • Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN) - Provides access to a quality-controlled collection of open access books, manily in the humanities and social sciences. 
  • OER Commons - Open Educational Resources (OER) Commons provides a curated collection of textbooks and resources for the study of Philosophy. 
  • Open Textbook Library - Allows access to a wide collection of textbooks on philosophy.
  • PhilArchive - PhilArchive, formerly known as the PhilPapers Archive, is a relaunch of the largest open access, free e-print archive in philosophy. It consists entirely of articles submitted by users with over 27,000 items and 5000 categories managed by 707 volunteer editors. It is still integrated with the PhilPapers database and has just been rebranded for greater visibility.
  • Project Gutenberg - Philosophy Bookshelf - Project Gutenberg offers thousands of free e-books. Books can be searched by title or by category. 

Courses and Videos

  • Academic Earth : Philosophy - Academic Earth provides academic lectures, video courses, journals, trade magazines, grants and scholarships and internships  from the world's best universities. 
  • Coursera : Philosophy  - A repository of online courses in philosophy from the world's top universities. Courses include recorded video lectures, auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments. 
  • Crash Course Series : PhilosophyIn this crash course series on YouTube Hank Green begins to teach you about Philosophy by discussing the historical origins of philosophy in ancient Greece, and its three main divisions: metaphysics, epistemology, and value theory.
  • Future Learn : Philosophy - Understand the work of philosopher Ramon Llull or explore the philosophy of technology and mediation theory focused on design. 
  • Khan Academy : Philosophy Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom.
  • MIT Open Courseware : PhilosophyMIT Open Courseware offers an extensive series of online philosophy courses, which  include lecture videos, assignments, exams, and more.
  • Open Culture : Philosophy - These free audio and video courses on philosophy can be downloaded on your computer.
  • Open Learn : Philosophy - Ten free courses on Philosophy, such as "Introducing Philosophy", " Philosophy : The nature of persons", "Minds and mental phenomena : An introduction" and "Introducing consciousness" are available here. 
  • Open Yale CoursesThe Department of Philosophy at Yale offers a wide range of graduate and undergraduate courses in various traditions of philosophy, with strengths and a well-established reputation in the history of philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of art as well as other central topics.
  • Philosophy & Ethics - edX - Study the philosophy of God, political ethics and more with online courses and videos from leading universities. 
  • TED ED : Lessons Worth Sharing - Philosophy - Discover video-based lessons, articles and updates from TED-Ed. 
  • TED Talks : Philosophy -  TED talks are short videos on current topics and controversies in philosophy.
  • University Videos - This Digital Library portal contains the metadata of the YouTube Channels of the world's Top Universities.
  • YouTube : Philosophy - A collection of educational videos on philosophy posted on YouTube. 


Other Resources

  • Hathi Trust - A collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world, including many great philosophy texts. 
  • Internet Archive : PhilosophyInternet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more
  • Memrise : Philosophy Images and audio help to memorize vocabulary. Interactive site that saves individual progress.

Related Guides

 Open Educational Resources by NUS Libraries

The above guide covers the following: