Open Educational Resources in Canada

Canada is prepared to make education accessible to all. Part of this ideal is offering Open Educational Resources (OER), which are resources students can obtain for free or at low-cost to further their studies. Open education resources include items such as textbooks, reading material, software, or courses that can be used for learning. Usually, educational material created under Public Domain or Creative Commons License are made available to students. These items can be shared openly and for free, legally and without copyright issues. Canadian students may access open education resources at their schools, libraries campuses or via non-profits or individuals. Here is a list of some of the open education resources Canadian students can benefit from:

Open Data

Open Data is part of Canadian government's plan to be more transparent and accessible to citizens. This program makes government data freely available and easily accessible to Canadians. Students can go online to the Open Data Portal and access government documents such as census data or legal briefs. In addition to making government more transparent, Open Data also provides Canadians with "vital infrastructure" that promotes research, innovation and education. Open Data projects functions in conjunction with the National Research Council Knowledge Management and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries.

Creative Commons (CC) Canada

Creative Commons was originally intended to make educational material freely available to students regardless of their income level. A good majority of material used for education, like research papers, photos and texts, are heavily copyrighted. They often cannot be shared online or in person without violating some type of intellectual property law. CC licenses allow some of these materials to be shared without fear of legal backlash. Most CC licenses allow users to handle material as they wish but with some reasonable limitations, such as not using for commercial purposes. CC Canada is particularly committed to promoting access to education. CC Canada is also a part of the Canadian open government movement.

Tri-Agency Open Access Policy

There are three major Canadian research funding agencies. These are the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. They support and facilitate knowledge sharing and research collaboration in support of open education resource availability. These agencies also draft policies that makes research material easy to access for educational purposes.

OER Universitas (OERu)

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OER universitas is a consortium of more than 36 educational institutions and organizations located across five continents. The consortium is intended for reducing the cost of access to higher educational for learners located in multiple countries. OERu institutions allow ways and means for students to get formal post-secondary credentials at lower than usual costs. In Canada, there are seven institutions that participate in the consortium. They are Athabasca, Thompson Rivers and Kwantlen universities, Portage Community College in Alberta, BCcampus, eCampus Alberta and Contact North, Ontario.


BCcampus is a publicly funded initiative that provides online courses at reasonable rates. The aim of the initiative is to create a "sustainable approach to online learning" for university students. Students can choose the service to select and register for courses online. BCcampus essentially provides students access to higher education opportunities in his or her province. Students can apply to earn academic credentials easily. The initiative also offers access to open textbooks. Students often have to spend a lot of money buying textbooks. BCcampus eases this burden by allowing students to find and obtain open textbooks for free or for a very low fee. The initiative's official website provides access to a number of toolkits and other open access resources.

Open Courseware Consortium

A number of Canadian universities, like Athabasca University, participate in the Open Courseware Consortium (also known as the Open Education Consortium). This is an effort to publish high-quality college education material openly and freely. Access to free material is organized by course, and sometimes includes course planning material and evaluation kits for educators as well. Open Courseware is licensed to be accessible to anyone, anytime over the internet. In addition to the above, a number of Canadian universities participate in OER efforts to make coursework more accessible and affordable. These OER-participating universities include Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute, Thompson Rivers University and OCAD University. Some also participate in the Flexible Learning for Open Education project funded by international agencies like the European Commission.