Open Education Resources and Creative Commons Attribution

Photo by Umberto on Unsplash

It was my pleasure recently to have had the opportunity to listen to Clint Lalonde (2018), Associate Faculty at Royal Roads University in the School of Education & Technology, and Manager of Education Technologies at BCcampus, while he presented on Open Education and Creative Commons licenses.  As both an educator and a media professional, I’m fairly well versed in copyright and the appropriate attribution of borrowed materials, but he did bring some ideas to my attention that I had not yet been exposed to.  There were a couple of points that really stuck out to me as worthy of presenting here.  Those points include the Five Rs of Open Education Resources (OER) and the TASL (pronounced “tassel”) acronym for Creative Commons attribution.

The Five Rs of OER

While I have used the concept of Open Education in my own teaching, I was doing so without my knowledge.  It was super interesting to learn much more about the concept and I was particularly keen to hear about how one might categorize a learning material as an Open Resource.  During this pre-recorded presentation, Lalonde described a rule one could follow to categorize a piece of learning material as an Open Resource called the Five Rs of OER (24:32).  The Five Rs are represented by the following…


In order for a resource to be considered Open, it’s important that the student be able to retain that resource.  It’s becoming increasingly common for textbook publishers to sell students access to online textbooks rather than a hardcopy of the book.  The online textbook brings many advantages such as supplemental resources, practice quizzes, and more, to assist in deeper learning of a topic, but unfortunately when the license period purchased by the student expires, access is relinquished.  This practice underlines the importance of a student’s ability to retain access to a resource used in their education in perpetuity.


The next R refers to the idea of reusability of a particular resource; that the student will be able to continue to make use of it over time.  While describing this privilege, Lalonde referred to a concept called the “Reusability Paradox” (26:20).  He asserted that a good piece of learning material has context to whatever knowledge the educator is presenting to the student, but if that resource is to be reusable over time, then it requires that it be without context.  Lalonde then went on to show that this Reusability Paradox is avoided through application of the next R.


The Reusability Paradox introduces the importance of a student’s ability to revise a resource so that it continues to be of use over time.  I’m fairly confident that we all have a textbook sitting on a dusty bookshelf from a course taken years ago that is no longer relevant.  The use of online learning resources brings not only the ability to share, but the ability to make revisions to that resource to ensure its lifespan and versatility as a reliable tool is drastically increased.


Another important attribute of an Open Resource is the ability to combine it with another.  An educator’s ability to remix resources into a new work, again, drastically increases the versatility of that tool. If an educator should be presented with the need to combine a chapter from one textbook with a chapter from another to adapt it to a new context, this should be allowable without any fear of repercussions from the creator of either resource.


Finally, educators should be able to make use of these resources.  The ability to redistribute an Open Resource ensures that a certain piece can be copied or reprinted for use in a class without any concerns of copyright infringement.  This way, educators can provide their students with the knowledge they need, without the burden of additional expenses on learning materials.  This is so important in a world where the costs of higher education are already so restrictive.


Later on in his presentation, Lalonde introduced this useful acronym to remind users of the necessary attribution requirements when making use of content with a Creative Commons license (43:00).  The TASL acronym represents the following requirements…

T – Title – Meaning the title of the piece
A – Artist – The name of the creator of the piece
S – Source – Users must include the source from which the piece was drawn
L – License – Users must present the nature of the license associated with the piece, as illustrated in the image at the top of this page.

Curiously absent from the acronym is the additional requirement that users include a description of any adaptation to the work, if the license allows for it.


Lalonde, C. (2018). Into the great wide open [Video file]. Royal Roads University, School Education & Technology, 2018 MALAT Virtual Symposium.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *