Purpose – Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning materials openly licensed so that others may retain, reuse, revise, remix or redistribute (the 5Rs) these materials. This paper aims to raise awareness of OER by providing a rationale for using these learning materials and a strategy for educators to get started with OER during the collective crisis and beyond. Design/methodology/approach – Using a broad research base and anecdotes from personal experience, the authors make the case that OER improves student access to learning materials and improves the learning experience in both PK-12 and higher education contexts. Findings – The authors define and describe the benefits of OER to provide practical suggestions educators can implement during the pandemic and beyond. Practical implications – To support educators in finding and using OER, this paper highlights repositories that include a breadth of various learning materials across subject areas and educational contexts. The authors provide specific suggestions for finding, personalizing and contextualizing OER. Originality/value – This work not only provides an overview of OER with particular considerations for educators during the COVID-19 pandemic but also makes the case that OER should be integrated into classrooms beyond the pandemic.