Module 6: Finding OER

Module 6: Finding OER

In this module we will cover:

How to find Creative Commons (CC) licensed resources

We’ve created an entire “FIND OER” feature on our site with the intent of serving all your needs in one place.

Our site provides a categorized search guide for all types of OER and we’ve organized these resources to help you make choices that fit your needs. For each resource you’ll find a list of unique traits, licensing information, and an example of how to attribute the source.

Let’s do a few activities

Through these practices you will realize that there are myriad open educational resources out there with much variety. I recommend that you print out the next page (unless, of course, you have two screens) and follow the steps with me.

How to find a CC licensed video

First, we’ll find a video with a CC license. Please follow the steps below:

Step 1

Click on the FIND OER tab on the main menu. Once there, you’ll find a link to our OER Resource Repository.

screenshot: Find OER tab circled

Step 2

From the OER Resource Repository page hover over each resource tile for additional information. Go to the resource’s webpage by clicking on its name.

Step 3

We’ll try YouTube for now. Click on the YouTube logo under Open Videos & Audio. Once inside that page click on the YouTube logo again (or simply go to

Step 4

Type in your keyword and click the search button that looks like a magnifier.

Step 5

You will see the list of videos that correspond to your keyword.

Step 6

To filter these videos and find the CC-licensed ones, click the Filters button and choose Creative Commons under the Features.

Screenshot: YouTube search field with technology in esl and Creative Commons circled under "Filters" tab

Step 7

All of the videos that are released with Creative Commons Attribution licenses will appear. However, you have to double check to see if the video you want is truly CC licensed. To do so, let’s choose one of the videos.

Step 8

Let’s check this video:

Capstone Fair by MarlboroCollege. To confirm if the selected YouTube video is CC licensed, click the Show more option.

Step 9

At the bottom of the About page, you will see the License option. If it is CC licensed, it will say Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed). If it is not CC licensed, it will say Standard YouTube license.  If you wanted to use the videos that are not openly licensed, you must obtain the proper permission from the author.

Screenshot: YouTube licensing information circled

Step 10

Notice there is a “Remix this video” link under the CC license notice. YouTube provides an editing tool for all CC Attribution licensed videos.

Screenshot: YouTube Video editor page

YouTube is an excellent tool to find CC licensed videos, but try other repositories we’ve listed as well. You may find another repository that serves your needs better.

[Note] Many content-aggregator websites, such as YouTube and Google Video have significant amounts of copyright-infringing material. Please double check that the video is truly CC-licensed. Some owners might upload their work on YouTube and claim it is theirs (when it’s not) or that it is under certain terms (when it is not). This is just a part of dealing with content on the internet, and the burden is on the user. So, when in doubt, contact the creator or do a little more research.

How to find a CC-licensed image:

There are a plethora of openly available images in various disciplines. You can have them at your fingertips if you know where to look. Let us walk you through the steps.

Step 1

Just as before, click on the FIND OER tab. You will see four media categories.

screenshot: Find OER tab circled

Step 2

Click on Images and you will see selected sites that provide open videos.

screenshot: Images circles on Find OER dropdown menu

Step 3

We’ll try flickr. Click on the flickr logo. Once inside that page click on the flickr logo again (or simply go to Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons license.You can browse or search through content under each type of open license. Flickr has organized their collection based on the types of CC licenses.

Another way to access this collection is typing “Creative Commons” in the search window. As you type in, the link to the Creative Commons collection will appear at the bottom of the search window.

Screenshot: Flickr search field circled and creative commons entered

Step 4

Let’s try the Creative Commons Attribution Licensed (CC BY) image collection for now. Click See more.

Screenshot: Flickr Creative Commons search, See more circled.

Step 5

Type your keyword in the search window. Images will appear. Locate the image that you need.

Screenshot: flickr search field with accessibility entered, photo of handicap parking spot circled

Step 6

Check the license information located right below the image. If it says “Some Rights Reserved,” it means it is Creative Commons licensed and is safe to use.

screenshot: some rights reserved circled

Step 7

To download the image, click the download icon that resembles an arrow pointing down.

Screenshot: flickr photo of handicap parking spot download icon circled

Step 8

You will see a list of different size options and a View all sizes option . Click on the size you want and the image will begin to download automatically. Alternately, you can click on View all sizes, select a size you want and click Download.

Step 9

Another way to search Flickr is via its advanced search ( advantage of using keywords is that it limits the amount of browsing you need to do to find  your image.Screenshot: flickr advanced search url circled in url field, and Any license circled in filter option

Flickr is an excellent tool to find CC licensed images, but try other repositories we’ve listed as well. You may find another repository that serves your needs better.

How to find CC-licensed course material:

Step 1

Click the FIND OER tab. You will see four media categories.

screenshot: Find OER tab circled

Step 2

Choose Course Materials, then click on the MIT OpenCourseWare image. Once on that page click on the MIT logo or go to

Step 3

Click the Courses tab and then Topic.

Screenshot: Find Courses tab & Topic circled on MITCourseware site

Step 4

Choose the topic and the connected sub-topics and specialties will appear. Once you have made your choice in a specialty, the results will appear below.

Screenshot: MIT OpenCourseWare Course Finder page, Results circled

Step 5

Choose one of the courses that appears under Results

Step 6

The course content will appear.

Screenshot: MIT OpenCourseWare Course page navigation circled & illustration of skeleton

Try other repositories we’ve listed as well. You may find another repository that serves your needs better.

How to find an open textbook:

Step 1

If you’ve read through all the other resources you’ll be familiar with where we start. Yep, click on the FIND OER tab on the main menu. You’ll see four media categories.

screenshot: Find OER tab circled

Step 2

Click Textbooks and you will see selected sites that provide open textbooks.

Step 3

Let’s try OpenStax College for now; click on their name or go to

Step 4


screenshot: OpenStax page, Our Books tab circled

Step 5

Browse the books.

screenshot: OpenStax textbooks covers

Step 6

Check the details of the book. You can check the specific information about the courses, development standards, authors, reviewers, additional resources and licensing terms. To download a book, click GET THIS BOOK

screenshot: OpenStax page details -Table of Contents, Details, For Faculty, Get This Book, More Resources circled

Step 7

Choose the format that is suitable for your needs. 

Screenshot: OpenStax page for choosing formats to access Physics textbook

How do I attribute a Creative Commons licensed work?

A good rule of thumb is to recall the acronym TAL, which stands for Title, Author, and License.

  • Title – What is the name of the material?Please provide the title of the work you are adopting. Be sure to hyperlink the title to the original sources. If a hyperlink is not available, describe where you got the work.
  • Author – Who owns the material?Please name the author or authors of the material in question. Sometimes, the licensor may want you to give credit to some other entity, like a company or pseudonym. In those cases, please just do what they request. Also, if the author has a webpage, please link to the author’s page.
  • License – How can I use it?Please provide the exact name of the Creative Commons license under which the work was released, and hyperlink the license name to the license deed page. You can use the acronyms instead of full name of the license.

You are obviously using the material for free thanks to the CC license, so make note of it. Don’t just say the material is Creative Commons, because that says nothing about how the material can actually be used. Remember that there are six different CC licenses; which one is the material under? Name and provide a link to it, eg. for CC BY.

The above content is from CC Wiki, CC-BY.

Let’s practice creating attributions

Let’s say you found a CC-licensed image of an elephant on Flickr, and you want to add it to your document. You can do it without asking for anybody’s permission, as this image was released with a CC license, but you would still need to attribute the work in the manner specified by the author.

Step 1

After successfully locating the image, first check the license information to see if the image is truly openly licensed. All image repositories offering CC licensed images, such as Flickr or Wikimedia Commons, have their own way to provide license information. For example, in Flickr it is located below the image.

Screenshot: Flickr image of man walking with 3 elephants, CC license circled in bottom right corner

Step 2

Click the Some rights reserved link. You will be taken to the Creative Commons license deed where you can check the type of CC license used. To cite the license link in your attribution, copy the URL of the deed in the browser.

Screenshot: Creative Commons licensing deed page, page url circled

Step 3

We’ve now confirmed the image is CC licensed (which means it is safe to use) and copied the URL of the license deed. To complete the attribution, we need to credit the author by citing the author’s name (or user identification) and the work title.

Screenshot: Flickr image of man walking with 3 elephants, author name and image title circled

Step 4

Copy the URLs of the image and the author page.

Step 5

We have collected all the information needed to make a proper attribution (title, author, license deed, and URLs to all three components).

Step 6

Please see the example below. Notice that I linked the name to the person’s profile page and linked the title directly to the original work.

Screenshot: Original flickr image of man walking with 3 elephants

Elephant March by William Warby is licensed under CC BY

Fortunately for you, SBCTC has created the Open Attribution Builder, an application to help you easily cite open material you find; as you fill out the form the application will automatically generate the attribution for you. 

You still need to gather T.A.L information of the material you want to adopt to use this application.

Example Attributions

Type of Media Examples of Ideal Attribution Why
Image Elephant@Amboseli by Xiaojun Deng is licensed under CC BY
  • Title: “Elephant@Amboseli” is noted.
  • Author: “Xiaojun Deng” is noted and linked to his profile page.
  • Source: “Elephant@Amboseli” is linked to original Flickr page.
  • License: “CC BY” is linked to license deed.
Course Content Module 4: Protein Structure
by Open Learning Initiative
is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
  • Title: “Module 4: Protein Structure” is noted.
  • Author: “Open Learning Initiative” -linked to the project page.
  • Source: “Module 4: Protein Structure“-linked to original course content page.
  • License: “CC BY-NC-SA” is linked to license deed.
*Derivative Works This work, “Elephant in yellow”, is a derivative of Elephant@Amboseli by Xiaojun Deng used under CC BY. “elephant in yellow” is licensed under CC BY by Boyoung Chae.
  • Title, Original Author, Source, and License are all noted.
  • Made it clear that it is a derivative work.
  • New author of the derivative work is also noted.
Offline Document “Elephant@Amboseli” by Xiaojun Deng is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.
  • Title, Original Author, Source, and License are all noted.
  • The licensed type and the URL are spelled out in full.
Type of Media Examples of Incorrect Attribution Why
Image Elephant Photo: Creative Commons Licensed.
  • Author is not noted. Creative Commons is not the author of this photo.
  • There is no link to original photo.
  • There is no mention of the license, much less a link to the license. “Creative Commons” is an organization.
*Derivative Works This work, “Green Banana”, is a derivative of “Banana!” by Graham Reznick used under CC BY-NC-ND “Green Banana” is licensed under CC BY by Boyoung Chae.
  • There is no link to original photo.
  • The original photo was released under CC BY-NC-ND, which means that the user is not permitted to distribute the modified material.

*Derivative Works: A derivative work is a work based on or derived from one or more already existing works. Common derivative works include translations, musical arrangements, motion picture versions of literary material or plays, art reproductions, abridgments, and condensations of preexisting works. Another common type of derivative work is a “new edition” of a preexisting work in which the editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications represent, as a whole, an original work. To learn more about Derivative works, please read Copyright in Derivative Works and Compilations by US Copyright office.

For example, the IGNIS logo (on the right) is a derivative built from the original lightning image (on the left).

Original Image Derivative
sparks on a black background The word IGNIS on top of the sparks background

To learn more about Derivative works, please read Copyright in Derivative Works and Compilations by the US Copyright office.

For more guidance on attributing a Creative Commons licensed work, please visit CC Wiki-Best Practices for Attribution.

Attributing Works with Different Licenses

ow we’ll address what to do if you want to add a resource that is offered under different CC licenses than the default CC license you have chosen for your content.

For example, if your content is mostly CC-BY but you have incorporated CC-BY-SA materials into your work. Should you mark your work with CC-BY-SA?

Generally, it is okay to collect works under CC licenses, as long as the attributions are clear, and there is a note in the material that mentions that some material might have more restrictive licenses.

You could simply add “Except otherwise noted” in the main CC license notice, which indicates that the materials might contain some resources governed by different terms and should therefore be treated as specified by the original author. Or you could add a more specific note: “Original material in this course is licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license; however, please respect more restrictive licenses of adopted content where attributed.”

Therefore, regarding this case, you can still release your work under a CC BY license with the added phrase “Unless otherwise noted” in the licensing notice. This means the content is CC BY licensed but it contains some resources that are marked with different licenses, such as CC BY-SA, and those resources should be treated as specified by the original author intended.

The exception would be in the case of adapting the BY-SA materials. Any adaptations would have to be shared alike under the same license (BY-SA) per the ShareAlike condition (Links to an external site.). But if the BY-SA materials are included verbatim, faculty need only make note of those materials and the separate licenses governing those materials.

Keep in mind that you can only ever CC license rights to work that you own. In general, please make it a practice to clear all copyright issues (Links to an external site.) before releasing your work with a CC license. In order to avoid distributing copyrighted work, faculty should make a practice of stripping their courses of copyrighted material before sharing to the Commons.

Please see the example below. The Open Course Library (OCL) is a collection of many online course packages. While all OCL courses are licensed under a default CC BY license, many resources that are offered under different CC licenses (such as CC BY-NC or CC BY-SA) were added to the course materials. Adding “unless otherwise specified” to the statement indicates that there might be other resources marked with different licenses and that they need to be treated as specified by the original author.

CC BY LicenseUnless otherwise specified, the Open Course Library (Links to an external site.) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License (Links to an external site.)

To learn more about

Open Attribution Builder

Now that you understand all the components needed in a citation and what constitutes a derivative work, use our Open Attribution Builder to assist you in pulling it all together. All you need to do is enter the relevant information into the Builder and it will generate your citation for you.

Screenshot: Open Attribution Builder

Please remember that this application is:

  • to cite only openly distributed work, such as work licensed by Creative Commons or released in the public domain, and
  • to provide a default attribution statement. You’re welcome to modify the citation to make it more suitable to your needs.

In Module 7, we will discuss public domain, another system that houses open educational resources.

Last updated: 05 15 2020