Open Educational Resources Community of Learning

Module 3: Adapting Open Content

Some open licenses permit content to be "revised" or "remixed," which are practices that allow instructors to better tailor resources to a course's specific curriculum and needs. Revising and remixing cover a variety of different ways a resource may be modified or adapted, but both produce some form of derivative of the original work. We will set aside the question of licensing for now; instead, let's focus on examples of what a revision, adaptation, or remix might look like.

The graphic below uses building blocks to illustrate how raw materials (i.e., educational content) that were originally shared in the format of an openly licensed textbook can be reused, revised, and remixed in different ways. 


Life of a CC-BY Open Textbook

Life of a CC-BY Open Textbook by *s@lly* is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.


The first two steps illustrated in the graphic show the original author's work.

  • Raw materials: this is the original, unpublished content. The original author must decide in what format they will publish and with what license.
  • First OER licensed CC-BY: in this case, the author collects their original content as a textbook and publishes with a CC-BY license, allowing others to reuse and adapt.
  • Example: a textbook found in the Open Textbook Library that can be downloaded, printed, and shared according to its license.


The majority of the uses illustrated in this graphic are example of revision or adaptation. While the original author may choose to adapt or modify or adapt their own work after it is published, we will assume here that another creator is adapting the work.

  • Re-use of pieces: another author removes unwanted sections from the textbook and shares the shortened version without modifying the content.
  • Example: cutting a short segment of a video instead of using the whole video.
  • Add to original OER: another author adds some of their own content to the content in the textbook, leaving the original work unmodified.
  • Example: adding new questions to an existing quiz.
  • Add and subtract: another author removes sections from the textbook and adds some of their own content. 
  • Example, removing examples taken from Canadian law and replacing them with examples from U.S. law.


Two examples illustrated in the graphic could demonstrate remixing, as defined by the 5 Rs discussed in Module 1. Unlike the examples of revision above, in which new content is added to an existing resource, a key component of a remix is that it combines parts of at least two existing resources. 

  • Re-mix of pieces: another author builds a new resource from the original content combined with at least one other OER. Often these works are so thoroughly combined that the delineation between works is unclear.  
  • Example: combining two project rubrics into a new rubric document.
  • Re-organize OER & add: another author builds a new resource from the original content combined with at least one other OER and also adds original content. 
  • Example: This course! The creators of this course took content from other institutions and remixed it into new modules that fit the course objectives by editing existing instructional materials, combining graphics, videos, and other supporting information, and adding newly written content to pull it all together. We attribute our sources at the beginning of each module because parts of each resource we used are spread throughout the content.


This is by no means an exhaustive or prescriptive list. Consider other examples such as translating a work into another language or changing the format entirely from text to video. Within the restrictions of the open license, there are an infinite number of ways a resource may be modified to best fit the user's needs.


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