Reusing content

Reusing content

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are digital materials that are made available online to be used or re-purposed for teaching, learning and research. They can include images, audio, video, animations, content modules and other digital resources.

Why use OERs rather than create your own content? There are several good reasons:

  • You can take existing resources (like Open Textbooks) and develop them in ways that suit your needs
  • You can develop high quality resources on your own or with a small team of staff
  • You can save time and duplication of effort
  • You can build on best practice by experts in your subject area
  • You can use resources which you may not have the software, equipment or facilities to create yourself
Copyright concerns

To guarantee you stay legal when reusing content follow these three simple steps:

  • Reuse only licensed content (the most common licensing scheme is Creative Commons)
  • Adhere to the terms of the licence
  • Cite the content you use
  • Follow our online advice on a specific question.

The law includes a number of exceptions that allow for the use of all types of copyright work for certain educational purposes. For more information please visit our copyright exceptions for education page.

Creative Commons licensing

When content is created copyright on it is automatically assigned under UK law. The creator doesn't need to use the copyright symbol or assert their rights as creator, the very fact that they have given the idea a fixed form means that they own the copyright. You can’t ignore copyright when reusing resources, but you can ensure you stay legal by only using licensed content.

The Creative Commons (CC) licensing movement was set up to enable creators to specify how they would like their content to be used. CC licences are legally binding and internationally recognised. CC licensed content is easy to reuse as the licence states exactly what you can and can’t do with the content. They are made up of five main components which are combined to specify how a resource can be reused:

  • CC = Creative Commons - Signifies a legally binding Creative Commons licence
  • BY = Attribution - You must cite the original source when reusing content
  • ND = No Derivatives - You must not alter or change the content when reusing it
  • SA = Share Alike - You must license your new resource under the same terms when reusing content
  • NC = Non-Commercial - You must not make commercial gain from your new resource when reusing content

You will normally find a number of these elements have been added together to produce a licence. Here are some common examples:

  • CC-BY CC-BY lets you distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon a work, even commercially, as long as you credit the creator
  • CC-BY-SA CC-BY-SA lets you distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon a work, even commercially, as long as you credit the creator and license your new creations under identical terms
  • CC-BY-ND CC-BY-ND allows redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as the content is passed along unchanged and you credit the creator
  • CC-BY-NC CC-BY-NC lets you distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon a work non-commercially, as long as you credit the creator

CC0 – Public domain licence

CC0 There is one CC licence that we have not yet mentioned. CC0, or a public domain licence, lets creators place their content in the public domain so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the work for any purpose without any restrictions. This means that you don’t need to give credit to the creators when you reuse their work and that you can alter it freely. An example of this would be the Open Clipart collection, where you can reuse items without having to even attribute the source.

Guidance on using OERs

Staff and students may wish to use Open Educational Resources (OERs) to support learning and teaching, including images, audio or video resources, animations and other digital resources.

  • GCU encourages staff and students to use OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience, provided that resources used are fit for purpose and relevant
  • When using OERs, students and staff must comply with the terms of the licence of use. For example, if the original resource has a share-alike component to its licence, then the resulting composite OER should be published under the same licence as the original
  • Cite the OERs you use. Include as much information as possible, especially the title and author of the resource, a link to where you found the content online, and a note of the licence applied to the content. If you cannot identify all of these elements then just include as many of them as you can

A standard citation format is:
Type of content: Title by Author. Link (Licence)

For example:
Image: The Thinker by John Smith. (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

  • OERs used by individual staff and students should normally be single units (learning objects) or small collections (such as podcast episodes or small collections of images) rather than whole courses
  • All OERs used should where possible comply with the GCU guidance on accessibility

For further advice and guidance please email or call 0141 273 1249.

Read the full GCU interim OER policy here.

Finding reusable resources

  • Audio Network pre-licensed production music from various genres available to purchase for re-use
  • Creative Commons (CC) search allows you to discover CC licensed content from across the web. Enter your search terms and select a service to search depending on whether you want to find images, music or video. Check the licence applied to each resource to see what you can and cannot do with it
  • MediaPlus (formerly JISC Media Hub) is a subscription service for UK higher education. Log in with your domain username and password and browse by collection. Alternatively enter your search terms and chose to search for video, images or music using the tick boxes at the top of the page. Check the rights statement for each resource to see what you can and cannot do with it. If this does not provide enough information then the Terms of Use link on each resource should provide greater detail
  • Mobygratis free music for non-profit filmmakers
  • Morguefile is a database of photographs contributed by a wide range of artists. Enter your search terms and select Free Photos from the drop-down search, or browse by selecting Free Photos at top left of the page. Check the licence terms applied to each image to see what you can and cannot do with it
  • Musopen lists sources of royalty and copyright free music for use in educational resources
  • Open music archive out of copyright and public domain music
  • Stonewashed is a good list of sources of free music
  • Store (formerly Jorum) is a UK service which collects and shares Open Educational Resources (OERs). Most items are licensed using Creative Commons, so check the licence applied to each resource to see what you can and cannot do with it

Open textbooks

An open textbook is a textbook licensed under an open copyright license, and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public. Many open textbooks are distributed in either print, e-book, or audio formats that may be downloaded or purchased at little or no cost.

Here are some of the main providers:

Definition from Learn more about Open Textbooks, the Student PIRGs (Accessed 13.12.17)