The terms are recent historical issues because of the advent and the availability of new internet technology and its intervention. Wayne Hodgins used the term for "learning objects" in 1994 for the first time. Hodgins explained learning objects as "a new conceptual model for content creation and distribution" and he envisioned that knowledge captured in the internet could be analyzed, reused and shared with others, and could be used to create a new knowledge. The concept became popular to instructional designers and educators for designing digital materials.
In 1998, David Wiley introduced another phrase, "open content," and he aimed towards the movement of the learning object creators, the open source content and free software. In 2001 Larry Lessig and others established the Creative Commons. The Creative Commons (CC) has had "stronger legal documents" through a set of licenses to institutionalize the open contents. In the same year, MIT started the noncommercial OpenCourseWare movement to provide "free public access" of university courses.
In the next year 2002, UNESCO intervened in these learning objects, open content, OpenCourseWare movements and coined a new term, "open educational resources." Now let us see what open educational resources (OER) means. OER is defined as “technology-enabled, open provision of educational resources for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes.”
The OER movement after twenty years is still questionable and many authors look at the movement with doubt and confusion. Some believes that s/he is giving away their own right over their own academic materials and they are losing controls. In some cases, individual universities are accepting the OER policies or stamping the CC licensing but the national bodies such as national curriculum textbook boards, education boards in many countries around the world are not readily participating in the OER movement.