The majority of us, by this point, are now approaching that phase of being stuck inside that can only be called boredom. But as soon as we concede to being bored, the famous phrase may clatter through our craniums: ‘only boring people get bored.’ How do we combat it? How can we accept the situation and transform some of our idleness into a positive force? We can start by having something to focus on; something that challenges us; something that helps us to re-connect with the world beyond the confines of our homes.
Learning is the best way to stay engaged with the world. Whether you’re looking for a new subject, are seeking out a new skill, or are hoping to get ahead of the curve with some preparation for university, there are hundreds of online courses available to you. Likewise, if you are a teacher, parent, or a proactive primary or secondary school student, a wealth of resources to support your geographical learning rests at the click of a mouse.
Geographical has put together a list of courses and resources to support everyone in their personal pursuit of geographical knowledge during this period of uncertainty opportunity.
COURSES FOR EVERYONE
The Open University – The Open University is the leading university for flexible, distance teaching. As part of their OpenLearn programme, more than 1,000 free courses are available online for you to boost your brain. Courses accommodate a range of expertise and time required for study. Most also come with a free statement of participation on completion. Here are some of our suggestions for the geographically minded: Ecology and Ecosystems, Biofuels, Exploring Anxiety, The Frozen Planet, Infection and Immunity, Introduction to Geology, and Water and Human Health.
Future Learn – Future Learn is a convenient online hub for free online courses. They collate loads of courses from top UK and European universities. You can filter your course search by subject, the amount of time you’d like to spend studying a week, and the duration of your course. Most courses have a set start date, but don’t worry, you can join and work your way through it after it starts. Future Learn is powered by cutting edge research in education, favouring micro-learning principles and interactivity in education. Geographical’s top picks: Ecology and Wildlife Conservation – University of Leeds, Come Rain or Shine: Understanding the Weather – University of Reading, Exploring Our Ocean – University of Southampton.
Open Yale Courses – Yale provide free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by the university’s highly esteemed scholars. Each course comes with high-quality, downloadable lecture videos, as well as suggested readings and problem sets. Here’s some that will certainly appeal to Geographical readers: The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change – Professor Ronald Smith, Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature – Professor Tamar Gendler, Global Problems of Population Growth – Professor Robert Wyman.
UN CC: e-Learn – UN CC: eLearn is the official United Nations learning partnership for all things related to climate change. They offer self-paced and downloadable courses, meaning you can dip in and out of them as and when you please. There’s an abundance of information on climate change – you can learn about climate policy, green economies, sustainable diets and personal finance, and lots more with these interactive courses. Take a look at some of the examples: Introduction to Green Economy, Climate Change and Cities.
SUPPORTING SCHOOLS AND PROSPECTIVE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) – Our very own RGS-IBG is supporting learning in geography, by developing a bank of free educational resources brimming with inspiration for students. You can explore the array of options using the hashtag #geographyathome, but here is a shortlist of Geographical’s highlights:
1. Podcasts – The RGS-IBG has a wide selection available. Each podcast features expert commentary with leading academics on geographical subjects, such as Plate Tectonics, Environmental Justice, Australian Wildfires, Sustainability, and loads more. Many of the podcasts are structured into sections, allowing you to build lessons if you’re a teacher, or to complete them in manageable chunks if you’re a student. They also come with thought-provoking exercises and further reading on each of the topics to keep you engaged.
2. Online Lectures – If you prefer to be engaged by an expert speaker, you will definitely enjoy the RGS-IBG’s selection of online lectures. They are mostly aimed at Key Stages Four and Five, but are available to anyone with an interest. They each come with lesson plans, fact sheets, and useful overviews for teachers and students alike. Global Health in the 21st Century, Air Quality For All, and Feeding the 9 Billion are our highlights.
3. Careers – If you’re thinking about choosing geography at GCSE, at A Level, or progressing with geography at university (or even at the postgraduate level), now is the perfect time to discover the doors that geography can open. The RGS-IBG have some fantastic careers resources available.
KEEPING THE KIDS ENGAGED AT HOME
If you’re a parent or a teacher, here are a couple of hacks to keep imaginations thriving!
Ordnance Survey – Ordnance Survey has a wealth of free resources that can help children grasp the ins and outs of map reading. Getting them proficient in the art of map reading can be a great way to keep them connected with the world beyond the home.
Dynamic Earth Online – The education experience centre is continuing to capture children’s vivid imaginations while at home. They’re releasing instructional DIY projects, such as learning how to make a bird feeder, along with ways to stay connected with the natural world during the lockdown.
The curious geographer – Geography teacher Ellie has set up an excellent YouTube channel for secondary school students. Primarily for A Level geography students, the videos are also useful for government and politics, economics and sociology students too.
Got something to add to this list? Get in touch!