How to choose tools and good practices for creating OER?

Last updated 7.3.2024

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Before creating educational resources, the author should familiarise themselves with the key practices related to openness. These include open licences, copyright and related agreements, benefits of openness and merit building, privacy protection in open resources and lifecycle management of educational resources, in particular. In addition to the organisation's guidelines, other recommendations in this document will help authors to manage these practices.
Creating open educational resources can be a very simple process, with only a few tools to support the author's thinking and knowledge base, but the process can also be a highly complex one, during which the author makes use of a number of tools and the expertise of others. This recommendation aims to help authors make decisions at different stages of creating open educational resources by suggesting things to keep in mind during the process. Authors may benefit from several tools and practices, but while these may change over time, we recommend at least the following:

When creating educational resources

The main focus when creating open educational resources is on the tools and practices used in their development. There are plenty to choose from, and they vary depending on factors such as the type of educational resources. For example, the tools and practices for creating and further developing open educational resources are different for videos and text-based materials. In addition to this, several tools often exist for the same purpose. For example, text can be edited with a variety of tools.

Many of the tools used to create open educational resources may be the same as those used for non-open educational resources and other output. However, when selecting tools and practices for the production and further development of open educational resources, the following should be taken into account.

Terms of use

By using different tools, you also agree to their terms of use. As with all tools, it is advisable to find out what rights a tool claims to your content and from which country it is operated (if the tool stores your information). In particular, questions concerning openness arise when a tool provides ready-made elements (such as graphic elements, video or sound) to make content creation easier. In such cases, check whether you can use these elements in Creative Commons licensed materials. For example, images from stock photo libraries cannot often be openly licensed, so they cannot be used if the intention is to publish the end product openly.

Open file format

Find out which formats you can use to download your educational resources from the tool. Favour standardised, common and open file formats, so that you and other users of the resources can use and modify them with any tool. This guarantees the continued existence of the educational resources, even if the tool can no longer be used.

Material should be published in an editable format, in addition to the actual files intended for teaching (for example, publish the project file of the video editor you used together with your video material).

Tool lifecycles and material's dependency on a specific tool

Assess a tool in terms of its continuity. It is recommendable to select a tool that takes advantage of open file formats and allows you to save your material in an editable format on your device. If you decide to use a tool that does not allow this, consider whether the tool has a stable future. You should also consider things that you can do now in order to benefit from the material and the effort that has gone into it, even if the tool will no longer be available for use.

Many special tools include an export function that allows you to make at least some sort of a standard copy of the file, even if the editability of the file is not guaranteed.


Organisations are legally required to produce accessible materials; as an author of educational resources, you can use accessibility to ensure that all users can use your material. The way that resources can be made accessible varies from tool to tool. You can make the process easier by checking that your chosen tool provides instructions on how materials can be made accessible, and thinking ahead whether you have the skills and time to do so yourself.

Data protection

It is important to consider what practices you have available in each tool for protecting privacy. This applies to videos and images, in particular. For example, can you make a lecture recording so that the Q&A part (and thus the voices of learners) is excluded from the recording? If you share a copy of your course platform, how can you exclude the participant information from the copy?

Make sure that the data protection measures are adequate in terms of the sensitivity of the data to be stored.

Ability to generate information together

Open educational resources are often produced together. Consider what framework the tool provides for collaborative work. When producing material together, it is important to ensure that everyone understands the principles of open scholarly publishing. This is particularly vital when material is created with students. Agree on the publishing method with the organisation and other authors (platforms/channels, file formats, size of audience, licence, timing, display of author names/pseudonyms).

When you publish educational resources

Once your educational resources are ready to be published, the majority of the work has been done. However, open educational resources are intended to be used and should, therefore, be published in a way that makes them easy to find. For publications, different platforms may be used for teaching, a wider audience and the closest colleagues, or everything can happen through a single publishing platform. When choosing the publishing platform, the following should be taken into account.


One of the purposes of publishing educational resources is to make them findable. When selecting tools, you can assess this aspect by examining whether the publishing platform allows you to store metadata about the educational resources and what this information is like. You can also note how resources are made available, for example via library and education services. Tell your networks about the educational resources you have published.


Check whether the publishing platform supports open licensing. How are licences displayed on the platform? Is it possible to browse material according to specific licences? Which licences does the tool support? Favour publishing platforms that use Creative Commons licences and display the licence terms clearly. Remember to check whether the platform requests other rights to your content. 

Even if you cannot choose the licence on the publishing platform, you can add it as part of the educational resources along with a descriptive text – follow the text format provided by the Creative Commons licence chooser  as accurately as possible.

Quality of educational resources

Consider how well the quality criteria for open educational resources can be taken into account on the publishing platform. This means, for example, whether the platform allows (peer) reviewing, the inclusion of metadata required by the quality criteria, the later editing of the educational resources and the information they contain, and the collection of feedback on the educational resources.

Lifecycle and long-term storage of educational resources

Educational resources often contain information that will ultimately expire or they may otherwise need updating. This should be taken into account when choosing the publishing platform: will you be able to update your material, what is the process like and what other related features (e.g. version management) does the platform offer? If the date by which the work needs updating is known when work is published, you should inform the users of the resources of this.

You should also check the terms and conditions of the platform regarding the storage of your educational resources. Is material periodically deleted? Is a permanent identifier for or a link to the educational resources available? 

Usability and various uses

Check what uses the platform offers for your educational resources: can they be saved on a user's device, can they be used on a browser or mobile device and can other users edit the material directly? Favour publishing platforms that allow material to be downloaded so that it can be used offline as well. Additionally, you should select a publishing platform that clearly indicates the authorship of edits. When making educational resources open, you should favour publishing platforms that do not restrict access to the material only to users within your organisation or those who are logged in.


Finally, check whether the publishing platform has an accessibility statement and how it takes accessibility into account. Favour publishing platforms where you can describe the accessibility of your educational resources in the metadata, for example. Consider whether the users of your material will be able to notify you if they identify any shortcomings in its accessibility. 

Organisation's perspective

Open educational resources provide visibility and continuity to an organisation's education and competence. However, work that is carried out in an open way brings its own challenges, where authors of educational resources require support. This recommendation determines which aspects an organisation should take into account when it comes to tools and practices.
Before authors start creating educational resources or opening them up, it is good for the organisation to have the following things organised and clearly communicated:

  • Who is responsible for providing support in the creation and publication of open educational resources at different stages of the process?
  • How will the organisation monitor the educational resources and their use, and what is considered to be an educational resource for the monitoring purposes?
  • How will different types of learning environments allow educational resources to be opened?
  • Which (in-house or nationwide) guidelines and policies on open educational resources will be followed?
  • How can the staff members' skills pertaining to open educational resources be enhanced?

The Policy for Open Education and Educational Resources and the recommendations made by the Open Education Expert Panel offer support in answering these questions.

Supporting the creation of educational resources

Organisations use a variety of practices and tools to create and further develop open educational resources. Tools intended for the creation of open educational resources should ensure that they have a long lifespan and can be updated. The use of open file formats is particularly important. In addition to the published version, tools should have the option of saving an editable copy in an open file format, so that the resources can be upgraded even if the tool is no longer available.

Organisations should have recommendations that make known the tools used for creating educational materials within the organisation. Additionally, they should have guidelines in place on the use of the tools and, for example, the selection of file formats. These guidelines should mention any limitations associated with the tools and describe the type of educational resources that can be created and made open with them. Furthermore, the guidelines should include advice on how the tools can be used to produce accessible educational resources. In addition to the guidelines, it is beneficial to provide training and help from support persons in the use of the selected tools and the creation process of educational resources.

In many cases, the services provided by an organisation alone are insufficient when it comes to the needs of comprehensive educational resources. An organisation able to take the needs associated with the creation of open educational resources into account will also be aware of this, and will provide support and guidance to authors of this material. 

A culture of collaboration

It pays for an organisation to encourage its staff members to work together in creating open educational resources. Partners can also be found in other organisations, which is why staff should be encouraged to form extensive networks. Collaboration is a natural part of project work, so it is good to consider as early as during the planning phase whether a project could involve the creation of open educational resources.

It is easier to agree on the rights of co-creation using an open licence than through individual usage agreements between project parties. Therefore, an organisation should provide guidance on things that should be negotiated when co-creating open educational resources, for example in relation to the publishing, licensing, mentions of names and background information, and potential updating of the material. The document Recommendation on copyright matters to be taken into account in the open publication of educational resources contains useful tips. As a concrete form of aid, organisations can offer agreement templates when educational resources have several authors.

Learners can also participate in the creation of open educational resources. Organisations should decide in advance on the practices for how the involvement of learners in creating educational resources is handled. The recommendation on copyright matters to be taken into account in the open publication of educational resources, including the section on material created with learners, can be used when deciding on the practices.

The tools offered by an organisation should have the option of creating open educational resources together and across organisational boundaries. Furthermore, more detailed instructions should be provided on how the tools can be used when working together with other organisations and learners.

Quality assurance of educational resources

The publication of open educational resources is a critical phase for organisations in the lifecycle of these materials, as open educational resources also reflect on the organisation – meticulously finished open educational resources will garner more appreciation than material published in an unfinished state. That is why organisations should ensure that the quality of the open educational resources associated with them is as high as possible. The quality criteria for open educational resources can be used as quality assurance help, in addition to which an organisation may have more specific practices in place regarding the quality of open educational resources. Concrete support services include help with proofreading and editorial work with resources.

Organisations are legally required to verify that their online content is accessible, in addition to which accessibility is also one of the areas of quality. Tips for promoting the accessibility of open educational resources can be found in A guide to the accessibility of open educational resources. Concrete examples of support include automatic video subtitling tools and subscriptions to subtitling services. The accessibility of open educational resources is increased if they are made available in the users' own languages. That is why it is worth for organisations to consider which educational resources to have translated and how the translation process works.

An organisation should provide instructions to authors of open educational resources on the types of materials that must include the name and other possible contact information of the organisation, and which types may not contain this information. Further instructions should also be given on, for example, the use of an organisation's logo and visual identity.

Organisations should ensure that the open educational resources associated with them are created and published in compliance with the copyrights of all parties. The recommendation on copyright matters to be taken into account in the open publication of educational resources can be used in this. Additionally, organisations should provide guidance and in-person support on the copyright matters of open educational resources and licences to be used. As stated above, guidance is also necessary on agreements regarding co-created educational resources.

Publishing educational resources

An organisation should have a recommendation on the publishing platforms for open educational resources. The recommendation should also include the principles for selecting a platform and state whether different types of materials should be stored on different platforms, for example. Additionally, it is also worth checking that material published on the recommended platforms is adequately backed up. Good options for publishing are open platforms that have become a standard, such as the Library of Open Educational Resources. 

An organisation should provide instructions to authors of open educational resources on how to publish descriptive information about their content. At a national level, the recommendation is to publish open educational resources' metadata in the Library of Open Educational Resources ( The organisation will benefit from support in creating metadata for educational resources.

Organisations may also have their own learning platforms, either for external or internal use. If a platform is also available for individuals outside the organisation, it may be one possible place to store open educational resources in. Learning platforms only used within an organisation should also offer the option for learners to download the material uploaded onto the platform on their own devices. The use of MPASSid  and Haka authentication , which make the cooperation between different organisations easier, is recommended on learner platforms intended for external use.

It is worthwhile for an organisation to advertise its staff members' open educational resources in its communications. Authors should also be provided with guidance on the findability of the resources and how to become profiled through them.