OpenABE Service-MOOC Begins!


Welcome to the Course!

This is the official kickoff to our open service course designed and managed by an all volunteer team of facilitators and subject matter experts with Designers for Learning, a nonprofit with a mission to provide instructional support through service-learning. We are excited to partner with you to make an impact designing instructional materials for adults with low math and literacy skills.

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As you likely read in our introductory FAQ about the course (Links to an external site.), you are engaging in a real-world instructional design project that centers on the design and development of open educational resources (OER) for adult basic education (ABE). In this project-based course, you will gain instructional design experience while developing instructional materials that will be made available for free to adult educators and learners in the Adult Learning Zone group on OER Commons (Links to an external site.). In other words, you will gain experience for good!


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Course Facilitators & Subject Matter Experts

This service-learning course is designed to be self-guided with a team of over 15 volunteer facilitators and subject matter experts (SMEs) (Links to an external site.) available to support your progress through the course. The course facilitators and SMEs will not grade your assignments, but they will be available to answer your questions in help forums and during our live webcasts (see more on this below). In addition, they will share their perspectives as moderators within the Discussion forums, and participate in the prototype evaluation conducted in Module 6.


Getting started this week

To get started, here are suggestions on where to begin during the first week of this 12-week course:

  • Mark your calendar for our first live (optional) webinar on Thursday, September 15, 7:00 p.m. CDT (Register for webinar here (Links to an external site.)). Attendance at the live webinar sessions is optional, and all sessions will be recorded and posted in the course for future viewing. If you plan to attend, registration is required to help us in planning. To view the live webinar schedule, register for the webinar, and find the recordings after each webinar, please see the Live Webinar and Recordings page. If you aren’t able to join the live webinar, but have comments or questions for the facilitators, please use the Ask a Subject Matter Expert discussion forum.
  • Dig into the course material by looking around the course Home page. Here you will find links to the Canvas Orientation Materials for those not familiar with our learning management system. Note that this course is structured within Modules that organize the materials you will review and complete.
  • Each course module includes material for your review and activities to complete related to the instructional design project you are completing. These activities include individual practice exercises and assignments, as well as conversation prompts to ponder within a whole class discussion forum.
  • Given this is a project-based course, we request that you proceed through the course materials in numerical order starting with Module 0 and ending with Module 7. Note that a link to the list of Modules appears in the left sidebar of each page. Due dates for Discussions and Reflections offer a suggested timeline to complete the course by December 4th, but feel free to work at your own pace.
  • Do you want to view the course “offline” on an eReader, or online using your tablet / smart phone? If so, click here to view instructions. The Canvas Guide offers guidance on how to download an ePub file to view the most current course content “offline”. In addition, if you have a tablet or smart phone, consider trying the Canvas app available in iTunes or Google Play.
  • Spend a few minutes skimming through the course modules circling back to Module 0 – Let’s Get Started that gives you an overview of what to expect in the course, details about your instructional design project, and information about how to earn an Instructional Design Service Badge and Certificate.
  • After you review the material in Module 0, please add say “hello” in the Discuss | M0 | Your Introduction to the Class forum. Over 1,100 participants are enrolled in the course as of today making this course an excellent networking opportunity. Scan through the introductions to gain insight into the backgrounds of your colleagues in the course, and reply to those who share a common interest.
  • Given most are taking this course to gain instructional design experience and network with other education professionals, please update your profile in Canvas (Links to an external site.) to include a brief bio and links to where others can connect with you outside the course (e.g., LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
  • If you have a question about your project and want input from a facilitator or subject matter expert, please post your questions in the Ask a Subject Matter Expert forum. Course facilitators and subject matter experts are monitoring this forum and responding to comments or questions. If you are unable to find an answer in the course materials or Canvas User Orientation, please post your question in the Help Forum.
  • (OPTIONAL) Group Collaboration: While this course is set up for you to work independently, you have the option to chat with others sharing a common special interest, or to take the initiative of creating or joining your own project group. Groups function like a smaller version of the course and are used as a optional peer-to-peer collaborative tool where you can discuss and work with your classmates on group projects. Check out thePeer-to-Peer Connection module for more information on these peer-to-peer options. Note: These optional peer-to-peer group collaboration spaces will not be monitored or moderated by the course facilitators.

What’s new?

A few hundred of you are joining us from prior Designers for Learning courses, and you will notice some changes as you start to look around the course. We’ve streamlined content in Modules 1 through 3, and added a New Bonus Challenge Module: Develop & Share OER in Canvas Commons. This new Bonus Challenge is offered to those who have completed Modules 1 through 7 of this course and created OER using Open Author, and want to take on a Do It Yourself (DIY) independent study opportunity to re-design their instructional materials as online learning within the Canvas learning management system (LMS). You will have the opportunity to earn a new badge if you share your instructional materials as OER on Canvas Commons, an OER repository managed by Canvas. As this is a independent study opportunity, you will spend time on your own reviewing the Canvas Guides to learn how to use the features of the Canvas LMS and the Canvas Commons OER repository.


Thank you for your service!

Thank you very much for joining us in this service-learning experience. The course facilitators will provide weekly announcements like this that will serve as progress checkpoints with reminders and updates regarding course progression. A link to the roster of Announcements appears in the left sidebar of each course page. We look forward to working with you!


Help Us Spread the News!

Please help us spread the news about this upcoming course by forwarding this announcement to other interested colleagues or students. Do you have comments or questions about our projects? Would you like to get involved with our organization? Please connect with us at:

Dr. Jennifer Maddrell
Designers for Learning
Designers for Learning.org
Designers for Learning is organized as a nonprofit corporation in the State of Illinois, and operates exclusively for charitable purposes in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Designers for Learning promotes service-learning opportunities through collaboration with schools, students, and volunteers.

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