Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Online Course : Using #OER to Create K-12 Curriculum

Great news! An online PD course has been launched : Using Open Educational Resources(OER) to Create K-12 Curriculum, it’s a long-time collaborative work from me and Digital Learning Tree learning system. Time to play and learn!


Why OER course for teachers matters

In the contemporary educational landscape, emerging participatory practices, facilitated by technological and socio-cultural developments, have given rise to a new model of knowledge circulation. Such developments suggest that teachers need to foster “participatory learning,” where communities of learners work together to build and re-build knowledge. In this course, you will learn why Open Educational Resources (OERs) are important building blocks for participatory learning. The Common Core Standards also promote the idea that students should “use technology . . . to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.”

The new adoption of common core K-12 state standards provides an excellent opportunity to develop high-quality, openly licensed K-12 courseware that is aligned with these standards. Also, OER provides access to institutions and educators at no cost, to the means of production to develop their competence in producing educational materials and instructional design.

Teachers play a monumental role in facilitating opportunities for students to become critical thinkers, proactive citizens, and creative contributors to the world around them. But it’s crucial that teachers are afforded the same opportunities to grow and learn new cutting-edge digital-teaching skills for today’s “Digital Kids.” Teachers will learn how to build capacity in using OERs, sharing OERs and building OERs. They will connect with like-minded educators and communities, and establish a strong portfolio of an educator as a creator of digital curriculum and lessons.

The core principles of this course

Taking a leaf out of Designing with Teachers: Participatory Approaches to Professional Development in Education by Ioana Literat and Erin Reilly, we design this course with the core principles of participatory professional development in mind:

  • Participation, not indoctrination

  • Exploration, not prescription

  • Contextualization, not abstraction

  • Iteration, not repetition

The core belief : “collectively, we can be greater than me”.

I deeply admire all the accumulated efforts and knowledge since the beginning of OER movement. I choose a fictional OER Genie as the avatar for this course because OER is really a huge community achievement; it’s not possible to be claimed by any individual account. It’s more than 10 years old, so now is the tipping point where OER is going to make a difference in our education. My standpoint in designing this course is as a facilitator instead of a lecturer. There are a lot of OER resources out there. I strive to weave real stories, real knowledge, real activities, and real interactions together. But I also put in some valuable ideas from outside the OER field. Learners can explore each topic as deeply as they desire through extended resources and links . Working with Digital Learning Tree, we are doing our best to bring a “community service” to facilitate connected learning and peer review. Learners have abundant resources curated and choices given. The only thing we don’t want to do is spoon-feed learners. This relates to our belief that the true value of OER is much more than bringing the cost down.

Course Features

  • This course is a “Course As A Service;” the content will be updated and upgraded as time goes by. You will always have access to the most up-to-date version.

  • It’s self-paced, totally online, with no time limit for learners. Your graduation depends on when you finish the required activities and put together your learning profile.

  • Learners will always be connected to our community and to the OER news updates. Weekly newsletters will feature learners’ tweets, notable activities, articles or projects and OER news. (Twitter hashtag #OERtree)

  • The quizzes are to help you catch the key points in each lesson. Its purpose is problem-based learning. (You might find it interesting that passing quizzes are not a required part to past this course, but taking quizzes definitely helps you learn.)

  • Peer feedback and peer review are required to pass this course.

  • Participation is crucial, but we understand that the commitment in a rigid time frame is difficult and not necessary, so there is no duration limit for you to finish it after you enroll.

  • The final project of creating an OER resource is required to pass the course. All the assignments and quizzes are to help you on the journey toward this final goal. The core of this course is project-based learning.

  • Personal blog and Twitter account are required to join this course. Learners always publish to authentic audiences. This way, they build strong digital identities and participate in the real world with real experience. (We’ll post great articles there too, with permission.)

  • To give the learning a fun spin, we give it an initial story (also see : A Message from 2038 – Help Education!), game terms (missions, quests), and badges to show off on your own blogs. Your experience point starts from zero and grow as you finish tasks one by one. The final achievement (and hence badges) really depends on the effort submitted. You own the learning. We will grow the story as participants’ stories will join into its development. Your story can change its direction!

  • After passing the course, learners can obtain 3 graduate-level professional development e-course credits.

open educational resources

OER is like a tree

OER content is like a tree. The content is never “dead.” Anyone can continue to “grow” on an OER object: adding transcripts, captions, translations, quizzes, different ways of expression; improving it; remixing with other stuffs; putting it into different contexts; transforming it for mobile learning(#mlearning), ubiquitous learning(u-Learning) or game-based learning(#GBL); making it more accessible… The possibility of branching and growing is endless, just like a tree in an open and organic environment. If you’d like to contribute or suggest to this course, you are more than welcome. (Maybe we can co-design the next course!) This course itself will grow too. And all the Google Docouments created by me (Jessie Chuang) in this course can be re-used and licensed under Creative Commons  Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

This course is all about steering your own learning in a way that works for you. Participatory learning should be embodied through autonomy, and hence mastery. At first glance, you might think your purpose is to pass the course and get the credits, but as you finish the journey, you’ll find that you’ve already built a strong portfolio for your digital identity – branding yourself. This course isn’t only about OER, it’s also about life-long learning. Even if you are a social media novice, it’s absolutely fine to take this chance as a starting point to begin learning about using Twitter, blogging, and utilizing Web 2.0 tools like Google Doc.

At the end of this course, the importance of mobile learning will be addressed. Learners will have the opportunity to work with me and our team from Classroom Aid Inc. to publish their mobile applications without coding a line. Teachers, it’s not a bad idea to turn your curriculum design into a real mobile app! (Related reading : Mobile Devices and Apps as Accelerators for #OER, OER in the Mobile Era.)

Syllabus of the course


A message from 2038 – A story about the future needs your help

Why should I bother ? – History flow and the coming Common Core State Standards have created the tipping point for the development of instructional material from the adoption of aligned OER.

The core principles of this course –

  • Participation, not indoctrination ;
  • Exploration, not prescription;
  • Contextualization, not abstraction ;
  • Iteration, not repetition

How is this Course structured and designed ? –

  • 6 parts will contribute to your final achievement : quiz(quest) + assignment(mission) + final project + peer review and feedback + participation + Personal Learning Network(PLN);
  • 4 kinds of badges will be awarded depending on your learning outcomes ;
  • You are the owner and designer of your learning but you’ll always be connected with the community of practice.

About peer review – Learners should build the culture of peer support(feedback) and capacity of peer review


The beginning of OER from open source software idea – Understand the community-driven spirit from open source software

Difference between OER , open education, open courseware and open access publishing

Important OER milestones

The spreading of the OER movements

Web2.0 technologies enhance OER progress

Open access explained


Why digital textbook is going open

From SETDA, traditional textbook model isn’t sustainable anymore

Cost-down benefit of OER (number and evidence)

OER will facilitate paradigm shift if we can learn from history

Evidence that learners can be trained more quickly using OERs

10 major reasons why OER matters

The freedom of remixing and why it’s important for education

Now, with open content remixing is OK


Teachers should be crafting learning experiences by orchestrating webs of content, tools, opportunities and connections.

OER Initiatives and the Vision from Maine

Trade Textbooks for Technology – Arizona

California Embraces Open Source Digital Textbooks

A collaboration of teachers, university faculty and industry – Virginia

Award-winning curriculum designed by teachers in Minneapolis

Open High School of Utah

Multi-District Collaboration

A paradigm shift – Transforming Instruction by Design in Earth Science (TIDES)


Free vs. Open – What’s the difference between “Free” and “Open” ?

About Open Licenses –

  • Copyright, TEACH Act, Fair Use
  • What’s CopyLeft?
  • Creative Commons – details of how it works
  • Public Domains
  • Other open licenses
  • What’s real open?


Basics, OER repositories, community sharing and curations

Learning Registry – You should learn how it works and register yourself to start using it

Learning Resource Metadata Initiative – You should learn how it supports end-user search and discovery of educational resources

CK-12 – What it has to offer, for free!

Some more quick start links – These portals give you a jump start in locating OER for K12


Rubric for OER – Tools for rating quality of OER and aligning content to the Common Core Standards directly

Evaluating OER – You should learn the details of evaluation from several key considerations

Quality Control of OER as “Digital Textbook” – Management Approaches

LESSON 8 – Using OER for Common Core State Standards

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) – Major resources for CCSS

Learning Registry and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) – Locating CCSS aligned OER

OER commons – Locating CCSS aligned OER

From California – Locating CCSS aligned OER

From Washington State – Locating CCSS aligned OER

Integrating OER into Teaching and Learning – 8 steps to integrate OER into teaching

Contributing to the resources you use – How to be an active user / contributor of OER


Growing Your Own Textbooks for Common Core – Steps toward taking control of your own curriculum  : Aggregate, Curate, Collaborate, Create.

Remix culture as an educator’s habit – Learn about creativity and working with images in online spaces

A general guide – A general framework for collaboration

Open Creation Process – Learn from the principles of successful open software development

About “Learning Object” and Reusable Design

Technical details you should know – Learn IMPORTANT rules and tools about licenses

Lessons learnt from transforming teaching materials into OERs – A framework for transforming teaching materials into OERs


What’s participatory culture ? – Learn why participatory culture matters and what it is

Pedagogy 2.0 – Learn the meaning of pedagogy 2.0 and strategies

Participatory Learning Design – Learn five core principles for participatory learning and more resources

The New Media Literacies – Principles for a new media literacy and why it’s important

Students as Creators – Real examples and a great talk about students teaching students


Social Software applications





Creating eBooks

Creating Quizzes and Polls

Creating Infographic

Creating on iPad​


Basic tips for making content accessible – Basic principles for general purpose publishing

Complementary Supports for the Achievement of All Students – Learn about UDL, AIM, AT. What are these initiatives? What’s PALM initiative?

Universal Design for Learning – Learn a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn, and what resources are available out there

Designing OER with Diversity in Mind  – Top 3 accessibility must-dos, common issues and suggestions

Link to related resources about special education


Visibility Strategy – Learn how to enhance reusability and visibility of OER : using open format, using open licenses, using educational metadata, granularity

5 Final Checks before OER Release

Useful Tools – Accessibility evaluation and repair tool and more

Best Practice Guidelines for Accessible Publishing


Mobile Learning facilitates personalized learning – Understand the benefits of mobile learning and the need of training and support

Mobile Learning is …. – The whole picture of mobile learning

How about OER in mobile era? – Learn the importance of OER going mobile

Mobile Learning Design – You will go through the following topics to re-design content  for mobile learning :

  • Design thinking
  • Learning design principles
  • Motivational design
  • 6D for mobile learning
  • 10 bullets for mobile learning design


Game-Based Learning (#GBL) – Learn about game elements and the most important 2 elements

A taxonomy of intrinsic motivation – Learn individual intrinsic motivators and interpersonal motivators

ARG (Alternate Reality Games) – Learn 7 key ARG features applicable to education

Augmented Reality (AR) – Learn the progression of AR, AR in education and useful AR products

Mobile Devices and Apps as Accelerators for OER – Learning content needs to be re-designed for accessibility and optimization on mobile devices. That’s a strong reason we need to advocate using OER.


Tagged as: ,

Categorised in: A Featured Story, Open Educational Resources

8 Responses »

  1. Congratulations Jessie. What a brilliant course. I can’t wait to go through it.

  2. Jessie, I look forward to this course! Thanks for setting this up! Also, check out Gooru for access to high quality OER that teachers can use to build their digital curriculum!

  3. Jessie, I just want to thank you for the contribution.


  1. What You Should Know about “Learning Object” – Part I | Classroom Aid
  2. Free #OER Mobile Course – Free Learning in Summer | Classroom Aid
  3. Open Content On The Horizon of Education – Part II | Classroom Aid

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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