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Teaching materials are increasingly freely available online and can be used within the concept of blended learning, such as within Canvas. Furthermore, lecturers from all over the world are increasingly sharing their teaching materials via online platforms. Also, publishers of educational work are offering databases with their teaching materials available for a paid license. If you are looking to use digital teaching materials in your teaching then the library can offer assistance in finding them.

Open teaching materials (or Open Educational Resources which is abbreviated as OER) are digital teaching materials that are freely available online. Copying, editing, and sharing the material is allowed under certain specified conditions (Creative Commons).

There are a number of different types of open teaching materials:

  • Individual teaching materials such as web-lectures or multiple choice questions
  • Compounded teaching materials such as open online courses (e.g., MOOC’s)

More information about open teaching materials can be found in the SURF module Introduction to open educational resources.

Teaching Materials with a Paid License

If you want to use teaching materials that require a fee be paid or a license be taken out, please contact the Library’s information specialist. He or she can assist in finding the digital teaching materials, taking out the license, and offer advice on how to use the material according to the licensing agreement.

  • Searching Open Teaching Materials

    There are search engines and portals that you can use specifically to find available teaching materials. The following are but a selection of a larger list.

    • General Search Engines for Open Education Resources
    • Open Courseware
    • Massive Online Open Course
    • Open Textbooks
    • Questionnaires / Multiple Choices Questions
    • Images

    Read more in our How to find? section.

  • Using Open Teaching Materials

    Open teaching materials can be used as an inspiration, as an addition to your own materials, or as a complete part of the course. Open digital teaching materials can be used prior, during, or after the class (e.g., Canvas). Using open teaching materials can help save you time.

    There are certain conditions that must be met before the teaching materials that you find online may be used, edited, and shared. Material that is freely available online is also subjected to copyright laws. Open teaching materials usually come with a Creative Commons-license (abbr. CC) that specifies how you are permitted to use the materials. You can find the licensing agreements on the Creative Commons website.

    For question concerning Creative Commons licenses, please contact the Copyright for lecturers.

  • Creating Open Teaching Materials

    Open teaching materials are increasingly created by lecturers themselves, independently from publishers. This means that teaching materials can be better tailored to the specific requirements of educational institutions and can be used within the concept of blended learning and flexible education. Furthermore, because the educational institution is the copyright holder it allows for the material to easily be shared.

    Online Courses

    You can use Canvas to create an online course. While Canvas does not allow you to completely freely share your course, it can be freely shared within the educational institution and among Canvas users. The UvA also uses Coursera. For more information please contact the faculty IT support.

    Open Textbooks

    Open textbooks are textbooks with an open copyright license which means it is permitted for them to be freely available online. The conditions under which these textbooks may be used, including editing and distributing the information, have been set forth in a Creative Common’s license. More information about Open Textbooks.

    There are different options when it comes to making an open e-textbook. One of them is using Wikiwijs (Ducht only). It is a user-friendly free online tool for creating open textbooks that allow lecturers to work together on the one project, even if they are from different educational institutions. The published e-textbooks can easily be integrated into Canvas.


    Videos have an increasingly prominent role in teaching. Please contact the UvA’s AudioVisual Centre for support in creating video-material.

  • Sharing Open Teaching Materials

    By sharing your teaching materials you are contributing to the improved accessibility of education, the valorisation of knowledge, and it is an opportunity to make a name for yourself or your institution.

    Sharing teaching materials also offers other advantages, such as:

    • Improving the quality (through feedback and an enhanced focus on quality by the creator)
    • Encouraging cooperation (even cross-country)
    • Further professionalisation of the lecturer

    Assigning a license to your own material

    Think about under what license you want to make your work available. A good option is to share your work under a Creative Commons (CC-)license. A CC-license ensures the author remains the copyright holder while allowing your work to freely be shared and edited. Depending on how you want others to use your work there are a number of options should you choose to use a CC-license. All licenses require that your name as the author must be mentioned. Then you can choose whether your work may be edited, used for commercial purposes, or whether it can be shared under the original conditions.

    The Library recommends using CC BY as the preferred licence. If the author objects to the granting of a CC BY licence, CC BY-SA (Credit must be given to the creator Adaptations must be shared under the same terms) or CC BY-NC-SA (Credit must be given to the creator - Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted - Adaptations must be shared under the same terms) can be chosen as an alternative.

    More information about CC-licenses (Dutch only)

    Copyright for lecturers

    Share where?

    A platform that allows you to share open teaching materials:

    Canvas Commons: If you use this service you can share your work on 4 levels:

    • Personally (just you)
    • A group in Canvas Commons (a specific Canvas users group)
    • University of Amsterdam (all Canvas users in the UvA)
    • Consortium in Canvas (a specific group of institutions that use Canvas)

    Canvas Commons groups can only be created by Canvas administrators, then the group leaders can invite colleagues to be members of the group. Please contact Canvas administrators if you want to create a group.