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Open Educational Resources

Higher Education Academy

The Society is undertaking a programme of activities to raise awareness of existing Open Educational Resources (OER) for use in higher education, and the good practice that exists in the discipline and beyond, to encourage the use and development of OER amongst geographers. 

This programme is supported by funding from the Higher Education Academy

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources describes any resources that have been designed for use in teaching and learning, or may be applied to teaching and learning, that have been made available for use by educators and students without the need to pay additional royalties, license fees or other charges.

Read more about OER at the Unesco/COL OER Knowledge Cloud.

Materials are usually released for use under a Creative Commons license. The terms of the license defines how the materials may be used, including whether they may be further shared, modified, or used for commercial purposes. Read more about how to use Creative Commons Licenses for your work in this briefing paper from JISC.

Finding geography OER

UK geography OER teaching resources

The geographical community has already created and shared a number of OER collections and resources. If you have resources to add to this list, please send information to RHED@rgs.org.

  • Jorum is the national repository for higher education OER with thousands of resources on a wide range of topics, with flexible keyword searching. To find many of the resources for the geography, earth and environmental sciences discipline areas (GEES), include the keyword 'GEESOER' in your search.  Jorum holds OER created in the c-Change and Open Fieldwork projects, which may be found using the GEESOER keyword  
  • Planet - the teaching and learning publication GEES disciplines, available from the Higher Education Academy.  [Click on the link for 'archive' to vew previous issues in PDF format]
  • Internet for geography - online tutorial to develop students' internet research skills, with specific reference to geographical information and topics.  The tutorial contains a wide range of useful links to online learning materials, textbooks, multimedia, maps, digital data sets and more
  • LandMap - free, high quality spatial data download service for higher education institutions, supported and enhanced by a range of e-learning materials

RGS-IBG resources

The Society has a wide range of resources suitable for teaching and learning on a range of historical and contemporary topics.


By searching for audio, video and image content through the following sites, the license for use will be clearly stated:

  • Flickr Creative Commons search - find images that are licensed for use by their creators
  • Google image search - use Google's Advanced Search function to find images that are free to use, by selecting the preferred option under 'usage rights'
  • Wikimedia Commons contains hundreds of thousands of media files and is designed to be browsable in a range of categories
  • Xpert Attribution - automatically adds Creative Commons license and attribution information to any image you select from the search or upload, ideal for creating OER-friendly presentations.
  • YouTube - when you search for videos, check if they have been shared under Creative Commons in the video details (below the video - look at the description and under the heading 'Licence')
Other Creative Commons searches
  • JISC list of multimedia collections contains extensive information about collections of video, audio and image items released under Creative Commons licenses
  • JISC content describes a wide range of digital collections and archives for learning, teaching and research (some require subscription or authentication)
  • Creative Commons search connects you to a wide range of search engines specialising in returning only results that have a Creative Commons license for use

Open learning and other websites

There are a wide range of websites that license their content for use in teaching and learning, including:

  • Apple's iTunes U - free education content and learning collections from higher education institutions, museums, libraries and other sources from around the world
  • Khan Academy - video collection on a range of topics, providing useful foundation level knowledge and skills (undergraduate or below)
  • Ted Talks - short video talks on a wide range of topics, with 'ideas worth spreading'

Many higher education institutions have their own repositories containing resources developed by staff - check university websites for more information. In addition, some belong to the Open Courseware Consortium, which is made up of higher education institutions committed to sharing their teaching and learning materials online free of charge. For example:

Sharing OER - best practice guidance

Information for geographers

Geographers may find the following resources helpful in creating and sharing OER, and especially when converting existing teaching resources to OER:

  • Finding, using and making OER - a presentation by Dr Zoe Robinson to the Higher Education Academy's GEES discipline 'Postgraduates Who Teach' workshop in November 2012
  • STEM OER wiki - guidance, information and advice from a JISC/HEA-funded programme on the creation and use of OER in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.  It includes extensive sections on intellectual property rights, quality assurance and dissemination
    • c-Change in GEES - project wiki, containing useful information and guidance about the open licensing of climate change and sustainability resources in the Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • JORUM support - help and advice about using Jorum, including how to upload resources

Templates and other resources:

Information for project leaders and OER creators

Geographers who are leading projects that involve the creation of OER, or those who are creating new OER, may find the following advice on issues of accessibility and intellectual property rights useful:

The following guidance may also be of use:


Internet links
JISC OER Programme, Phase 3
Higher Education Academy

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