FREE AND OPEN Workforce Development Curriculum Online: Leveraging OER for Cost-Effective Program Development

Concurrent Session 4

Brief Abstract

Explore the US Department of Labor’s National Repository of open educational resources and save time and money by adopting and customizing quality online curriculum for workforce development


Gerard L. Hanley Ph.D. is the Executive Director of MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, and SkillsCommons ( for the California State University, the Director for the Center for Usability for Design and Accessibility and Professor of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach. At MERLOT and SkillsCommons, he directs the development and sustainability of the international consortium and technology strategy to provide open educational services to improve teaching and learning and continues to development the US Department of Labor's open repository of educational resources for workforce development. Gerry's previous positions include Assistance Vice Chancellor for Academic Technology Services at the CSU Office of the Chancellor, the Director of Faculty Development and Director of Strategy Planning at CSU, Long Beach.

Extended Abstract

The California State University - MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) was awarded a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Labor to create and support the national open repository of open educational resources (OER) for workforce development being produced by over 700 community colleges funding by about $2 billion in grants from the TAACCCT (Trade Adjustment Assistance for Community Colleges and Career Training) program.

SkillsCommons is the open online repository for the TAACCCT OER and it is now open for use at   The roadmap for SkillsCommons begins with the capabilities to capture and preserve the OER developed by grantees as the funding for the campus programs ends.  The second phase will focus on improving the ease of discovering the OER and recognizing the value of the resources for reuse.   The third phase of the project focuses on demonstrating the adoption of TAACCCT OER beyond the people who developed the OER.  Finding relevant OER for one’s course is necessary but not sufficient for the adoption of the OER as course materials.   The CSU-MERLOT will leverage existing tools, services, programs, and resources to move OER from being admired to being adopted by faculty in the teaching of their courses. Embedding TAACCCT OER and services into an institution’s initiatives and technology platforms will be critical conditions for adoption.  Sustaining the TAACCCT OER collection and community of developers and users after the funding ends will be addressed in the fourth phase of the project by the supporting and strengthening of the community of creators and users of SkillsCommons and TAACCCT resources that has been nurtured along the way.  The CSU-MERLOT program has a proven collaborative shared governance and management process, coupled with a sustainable business model that has evolved over the last 18 years.  The TAACCCT community will leverage the CSU-MERLOT strategy so the TAACCCT program delivers value worth paying for by institutions and other business partners.

The interactive presentation and workshop will demonstrate how to use SkillsCommons by browsing through the collection by industry, by type of credential (associates degree, certificate, latticed/stacked credential, etc.), by type of materials (e.g. online course module, fully online course, tutorials, simulations, etc.), by institution and grant project.  The requirements for the instructional materials and program support materials included the content having a Creative Commons license (CC BY), being accessible (section 508 compliant) and being developed with principles of universal design for learning.    Participants will then explore the SkillsCommons library of OER and find free and open materials that they can immediately adopt/adapt for their own purposes, the SkillsCommons SUPPORT SERVICES Center that any institution can use to support the quality of their online instructional materials, and the SkillsCommons CONNECT Center that provides a range of online community and social media tools to help faculty and staff connect with the right people and resources easily. Finally, participants will explore how open licenses can be used to effectively and efficiently customize online educational content for reuse, revision, and redistribution and accelerate the development and implementation of online programs.   SkillsCommons has implemented a “make-over strategy” that takes the original educational content and redesigns it quickly and efficiently using more advanced technology platforms to produce higher quality learning experiences for students.