Open Educational Resources at the University of Bonn

These web pages provide in-depth information about the learning materials available as open educational resources (OER).

Digital graphic. An open laptop with indistinct writing and a round stamp with the word "OER" on the screen.

What are "open educational resources"?

Open educational resources (OER) are learning materials that can be used and reused free-of-charge under special licenses such as Creative Commons (CC). This can include individual materials, but also complete courses or books, whilst the classification can be applied to any medium. Course materials, textbooks, images, presentations, streaming videos, multimedia applications, quizzes and podcasts—all these resources are classified as OER, if they have been published under an open license.

Using open licensed materials correctly

Materials with an open license cannot be subject to unrestricted use. CC licenses specify how to quote the work correctly and the uses to which material may be employed. These instructions require compliance: failure to do so represents a breach of copyright.

What do the various CC licenses mean? There are six forms of Creative Commons license; some permit modifications of the material; others enable commercial use of the material they cover, while others allow only use in unmodified form for non-commercial purposes. The web pages of Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences Library provide a short overview of this topic. The official license texts are available on the Creative Commons homepages.

The German-language article OER leichtgemacht mit der TULLU-Regel available on explains how to use CC-licensed material correctly, what to take into account and what information you are required to submit.

Searching for and finding open-licensed material

Do you need open-licensed learning materials for your studies or out of private interest? We have collected a number of links to sources of OER materials. Please note: many portals provide both open access and copyrighted materials on the same site. We recommend that you check the license conditions of each individual source.

Images, videos, music and audio

Wikimedia Commons
A collection of digital media, much of which with a CC license. Ensure that you verify the license type in each individual case. Tip: generate the correct acknowledgment for Wikimedia images using the Lizenzhinweisgenerator!

Flickr Creative Commons
One of the world's largest image databases with over 300 million open-license images.
Click on the magnifying glass symbol in the search line on the homepage to navigate to the advanced search, where you can filter for the licenses that you want.

Creative Commons Search
An English-language image database—German-language search terms can also be found. The license conditions (usually a CC license) are clearly marked. Find over 500 million images.

Google advanced search
Working under "usage rights" you can filter the results according to the desired license.

65,000 vector graphics on various topics released as a public domain dedication. Download in various file formats is possible.

Icons to indicate openness in teaching and research
Vector graphics provided under the aegis of the State of Brandenburg Open Access Strategy on the topic of openness in academia, research and culture. Simple PNG format images.

A collection of almost 4000 CC BY-SA 4.0-licensed emojis from students and teachers of the Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd. The files can be downloaded in SVG and PNG format.

The University of Bonn USL digital collection
Online access to a constantly growing stock of electronically available media. The digital collections currently comprise digitized prints from the USL historical holdings, but are set to be expanded to include other electronic publications.

Digital collection of the USL Düsseldorf
A large number of predominantly historical illustrations and maps. Information about the license conditions is provided at the bottom of the detail page for each individual item.

Europeana is an EU portal seeking to display Europe's cultural assets online. With only a few exceptions, the content consists of links to the external online provision of museums, archives and national libraries which hold the actual media (photographs, videos and sound recordings). Europeana itself only offers thumbnails and metadata for the respective object. Whether and how these are licensed for free use is indicated in the search results. The information predominantly applies to photographic rights, as the objects themselves are often already in the public domain.

The Dutch Rijksmuseum provides access to an extensive range of predominantly open-access visual content, consisting largely of images of works of art, but also including photographs of objects, people or animals.

British Library
The British Library’s Flickr photo stream contains digitized material from its collection. Over one million CC-licensed images are available.

Smithsonian Collections
The Smithsonian educational and research institution provides a collection of photographs of objects, artworks and its other holdings on its website. Check the box “Open Access Media (CC0)” in the search.

Academic content videos from the Leibniz Information Centre For Science and Technology University Library
A portal with a range of CC-licensed videos with academic content drawn predominantly from the natural sciences, mathematics and technology, but also containing a range of videos with humanities and economics-based content.

Vimeo Creative Commons
Please note the terms of the licenses of each individual video!

You can set the search filter to run specific searches for videos with Creative Commons licenses. We recommend that you check the license conditions of each individual video.

Free Music Archive
CC-licensed music; the license information is provided in the description of the individual titles.

CC-licensed music

Collection of links to CC-licensed music
A large collection of links to CC-licensed music. Always check the exact license conditions before using a piece of music!

Learning materials is a free-of-charge online portal providing open educational resources for use by universities in NRW. Users can download CC-licensed materials or search for material held in other portals using an OER search engine.

The Open Educations Resources Search Index is a search index of CC-licensed learning materials for use in a university context. Users can filter according to subject, material type, language, institution etc.

The Top-200 list
The OERCamps web page lists 200 highly recommended sources of OER. The sources deal with a range of questions such as images, OER lesson material, MOOCs and audio and video materials.

Hamburg Open Online University
An online portal run by a consortium of universities and institutions of higher education based in Hamburg providing a range of stimulating material for students and university teachers, focusing on a diverse range of topics from music and theater, engineering, sustainability and urban culture to art and health.

OER-Repositorium Baden-Württemberg
A centralized collection of OER materials from various subject areas maintained by the universities in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Virtuelle Hochschule Bayern
An online portal maintained by a consortium of Bavarian universities providing materials and courses drawn from a range of subject areas.

OER-Portal Niedersachsen
An OER portal for the state of Lower Saxony, currently in the beta phase.

A portal maintained by Graz University of Technology providing CC-licensed online courses on various topics. The provision currently includes courses from the following subject areas: the natural sciences, the engineering sciences, medicine, the agricultural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. Every course is available with a CC license.

The textbook section of Wikipedia providing access to CC-licensed textbooks and monographs.

Open Textbook Library
Download English-language textbooks 

Open Textbooks auf BC Campus
Download English-language textbooks

Open Book Publishers
Download English-language textbooks

Download English-language textbooks

Open Educational Resources (OER) in Higher Education

The free self-study course at TU Graz (MOOC) introduces the concept of Open Educational Resources for students and lecturers at universities. Open Educational Resources (OER for short) are educational materials that are freely accessible and can be edited, adapted, and shared without violating copyrights. This succeeds because so-called "open licenses" or public domain materials are used for this purpose. This course introduces the concept of Open Educational Resources for students and teachers at universities.

Successful participation can be credited towards the tutor’s certificate (8 AE).

Accessible from May 6, 2024

Publishing your own materials with a CC license

Have you developed materials which you would like to make available with a CC license? This raises a number of questions: which CC license best applies to your materials? Where can you publish your materials? What are others allowed to do with your materials? For whom is the material suitable?

The German-language article Welche CC-Lizenz ist die richtige für mich? on provides information to help you select the most suitable license.

Please address any other questions you might have to the BZH team. We are happy to provide advice on all the issues relating to open educational materials.


Avatar Andreasová

Alexandra Andreasová


See also

Workshops and courses

Our workshops for tutors, mentors and other students

Certificate program

Information about the Rhineland Alliance Certificate Program.

Downloads for tutors

Links and assistance for tutors and mentors

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