Day 1: Searching – Creative Commons

Creative Commons logo

Hello everyone, and welcome to Searching, Using and Sharing – a set of blog posts, part of our LearningX series. Every day you will find here a new post to introduce that day’s online activity for you to engage with.

Creative Commons

Over recent years many people and organisations have started to take advantage of Creative Commons, a set of free licences that allow individuals to licence their works for reuse under certain conditions or to put them into the public domain. A creative commons license allows people to share their creativity, knowledge and images with like-minded people in a way that is not for profit. It’s something that works both ways, so if you add an image and make it ‘CC use’ then others can use and share the image, and likewise you can search for ‘CC use’ images. Watch this video to find out more about Creative Commons.

Finding CC licensed images

There are a number of ways to find CC licensed images.

  • Google images search has the ability to filter on usage rights – once you’ve done the initial search, go to tools / usage rights. While not mentioning CC directly, it allows you to find, for example, images that can be re-used in a non-commercial setting.
  • Bing’s image search also has a filter (on the right hand side), which allows you to filter on the licence. Their filters include CC and Public domain, along with some more limited licensing.
  • Pexels has free stock images (mostly photographs), that can be freely used and edited.
  • Pixabay has a range of images, including cartoons, icons etc, as well as photographs. You’ll need to create an account to download larger versions of the images.
  • Flickr can also be searched including a CC filter, though note that on Flickr there are a range of different CC licences in places, so you’ll have to check them to see exactly what you can do.

While some of the licences do not require you to attribute the creator, we’d recommend that, just as we expect students to acknowledge sources, attributions and links to the original are put near the image.


The latest versions of Powerpoint – and the online app – allow you to search for Online Images – this will help you find images, include the attribution, and even suggest alt-text for visually impaired users.


Search for a transparent image

Google Advanced Image Search has a feature that allows you to filter results with a transparent background. Find images with > Colours in the image > Transparent. This removes coloured backgrounds which may look a bit unsightly when you insert them into a PowerPoint slide, blog post or an online learning tutorial.

But I’ve had this image for years …

One issue that staff often have is having found a useful image, perhaps a number of years ago, and not being sure where it originated from. If you’re in that situation, and can’t find a suitable alternative, then there are a number of tools that offer a reverse image search – allowing you to find locations of the file. You will then be able to reference / link to the item -particularly important if it’s copyrighted.

Day 4: Sharing Resources

Sharing symbol

We have looked at some of the resources that the University licenses to use in teaching and introducing you to the world of open content that’s free to reuse with a Creative Commons licence.   Now our focus turns to material that you have created and how you can licence, publish and share it so that others can make use of it too.


There are a lot of ways to publish and share content. Where you decide to publish your work will depend on the type of content and the audience that you want to reach and how you want to licence it.  Photographs, pieces of writing, videos, presentations, data and 3D models can all be shared in different places, with some platforms better suited to particular types of content.  It’s important review the terms and conditions of any publishing platform you choose to make sure that you’re not transferring or losing the rights to your own work.

If you’ve decided that you want to share your content as an open educational resource (OER)  think about which Creative Commons (CC) license you want to use. The Creative Commons website can help you through this decision-making process and give you more information about how to share your content.

If your work is in a Word document or PowerPoint presentation you might want to take advantage of the CC license plug-in for Microsoft Office. You can download this from the Microsoft website, however it’s is only available for PC users and isn’t yet compatible with Windows 10.

One thing to remember before you share your work anywhere is to make sure that you always keep a back-up copy of your original.  It’s not unknown for web platforms to go out of business so always, always make sure you have an original safely filed.

Publishing to your own Website

Perhaps the easiest way to publish and share your content is to have your own website or blog. Blogging software like Blogger, WordPress and Weebly have become very popular publishing platforms. We now have LearningSpaces, which is a hosted version of WordPress. If you’re interested, contact us via Help4U to request a site.  Another option is Reclaim Hosting where for a relatively small annual fee you can register your own domain and run your own site.


The most popular places to post video content are YouTube and Vimeo.   From here it’s easy for anyone to share your content vis social media channels and to reuse it through the use of embed codes and mash-up tools. Whilst YouTube is more popular, Vimeo has several advantages, the licencing is clearer and if you decide to update your video the new version simply overwrites the old, which means that anyone who has embedded it will see the latest version.  You can also allow people to download your video if you are happy to share it that way.

Photographs and images

For the photographers amongst you Flickr is a good option to go with.  You can select an all rights reserved or CC licence for your work, it also lets you set a default licence so that all your uploads are automatically licensed as you want them to be.


Slideshare is to presentations what Flickr is for photographs.  It too lets you set a default CC licence but you can set different licences for each individual presentation that you share.  Slideshare is also good for sharing PDF files and it’s become a popular platform for sharing presentations and handouts from conferences. You can easily reuse content from Slideshare again by using an embed code and share to social media channels.  Here’s an example from Jesse Stommel from University Mary Washington that has as an OER theme.

If you are creating a presentation, video or a larger OER or MOOC, then you will need to take care to share it with the same licence as the original components. It may be that you have different licences for specific items. For example, you might have used some images that could be modified on the basis that you attributed and shared alike, whilst others were used on the basis that they couldn’t be modified. Therefore, it’s important that you include a reference to the attribution of individual elements and you’ll probably need to share the overall resource on the basis of the most restrictive of the licences covered in your content.

Make sure you double check how the original work you are modifying was licensed.  Here’s an example of piece of work that was shared from the Medical School.  It’s a 3D model of the larynx which built upon an original model from The Database Center for Life Science in Japan shared on CC Attribution-Share alike licence. This re-worked model has been shared under the same licence and you can take a look at it on Sketchfab.  It was then re-used further by a student in this video and here too it has been re-shared under the same type of CC licence.

Over to you

We’ve covered quite a lot this week so take time now to reflect on the key thing you feel you’ve learned or discovered.  If you have time share it in the comments.

Also if you’ve found this useful and have ideas of other topics you would like us to cover in the future please do leave a comment.


There’s a growing movement around open education internationally and a desire to share open knowledge. Check out the Open Knowledge Network to find out more about the types of projects in this area.

Link of the Day

Open education practice and the movement around OER are becoming a growing focus for educational research.  A special edition of the Journal of Internet and Media Research in 2014 focussed on open learning and included five chapters from the book ‘Reusing Resources: Learning in Open Networks for Work, Life and Education’ edited by Allison Littlejohn and Chris Pegler.  Have a read of Allison and Chris’ editorial on Reusing Resources: Open for Learning to delve deeper into the world of OERs.

Day 5: Using open educational resources

Open Educational Resource Logo

Over the past few days you’ve been picking up tips on how to search for openly licensed content and introducing you to some of the collections that the University licences. Once you’ve found content you’re going to want to use and today we’ll begin to explore some ways that you might do that that which are a bit more appealing than giving students a list of links in a Word document or in the VLE.


If you want to share licensed resources in your teaching the easiest way to do this is through the University reading list software, if you’re unfamiliar with this check out the information on the LLC website.

Reusing online resources is very much like referencing in a research or scholarly article you need to make sure you reference your sources and provide the appropriate attribution.  If you re-use a picture in PowerPoint, a video or an online learning resource it’s important to remember to give attribution. It’s worth checking out the Creative Commons guide on best practices for attribution for examples of how to do this well.

Given that you need to include attribution it’s helpful to think about how you manage and organise the different resources that you want to use, modify and adapt in your teaching.  There are lots of ways you can file your links and resources, some people bookmark sites in their web browser, some file in a Word doc or an Excel file, some might even still write the details on a file card and file it in A-Z file box.  There are other tools that you can use such as social bookmarking tools like Diigo.  These work as an extension on your web browser and let you save the link, add comments and tags and save to lists too.  It’s easy then to search and find links that you’ve saved going back several years.  If you’re working on a project you can create a project tag so that you can easily filter and find the resources you’ve used.  Diigo and Delicious allow you to keep your bookmarks private or public if you opt for public you can share them easily with a class or colleagues, here’s a link to my saved bookmarks on copyright.

An easy way to keep track of any images you might use is to make use of the new Creative Commons search where you can create an account and save and tag images into lists so that you have a record of the ones you want to use.  It also generates the attribution credits so that you can easily copy and paste it in where you need it.

Curating content

A key role in teaching is being the guide on the side and signposting students to learning and this is where existing resources come into their own as we can point students to open textbooks, videos, data sets, 3D models and weave them into our own teaching narratives.  In this role we’re essentially curating content, creating digital handouts and there are growing numbers of digital tools that allow us to do this in more visual ways.  Here are a few examples which have free level accounts that you can try out. allows you to curate content from the web add comments and then publish to a topic page.  It also lets you autopost to Twitter, Facebook and other sites so learners can engage through their favourite channel.  You can also embed into MyDundee.

Wakelet allows you to use to build learning stories that pull in content from multiple sources. It’s easy to embed YouTube videoes, Slideshare presentations, Flickr images, tweets from Twitter or Facebook posts you can embed any weblink.  Once you’ve published your story you can easily update it and continue to build on it.

Another great way to re-use content is to use a blogging tool like blogger or WordPress which we’re using here.  Blogs are an easy way to create and publish content and it’s relatively easy to embed images, videos and other forms of re-usable content just like this RSA Animate version of a Ken Robinson Ted Talk below, which was s simple cut and paste of the YouTube url.

Over to you

Take your pick form one of these activities:

Try out the new Creative Commons search feature and search for an image and post this into a PowerPoint slide, Word document, or your blog and then copy and paste the attribution.

Explore one of the content curation or bookmarking tools, you can create a free account on one of these and give it a try or do a search to find examples of how Wakelet,, blogs etc are being used in learning and teaching. You can explore one of my topics to get you started.

Could you see how these tools might be useful in your teaching or if you’re a student could they be a useful way to organise usefullearnign resources?

Let us know what you think in the comments section.