Join our open service course to gain instructional design experience!

Free Course: September 12 - December 4, 2016

#OpenABE Service MOOC Announced

We are excited to announce a free open service course managed by Designers for Learning, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the United States that coordinates service-learning opportunities for those who seek to gain experience creating instruction to support important social causes. This 12-week course will take place February 22 – May 15, 2016 on Canvas Network, a massive open online course (MOOC) platform.

During this 12-week service course, you will engage in a real-world authentic 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. Follow the #openabe course updates on social media.


What is the course focus?

This is a project-based course that focuses on a real-world instructional need. The course is designed as a service-learning experience to support an important social cause. You will gain instructional design experience while developing instructional materials that will be made available for free to adult educators and learners.

As a participant in the open service MOOC, you will begin the design process by dissecting the adult basic education design scenario to explore key aspects of the opportunity. What are the goals, needs, and constraints? Who are the target learners? What is the instructional context? As part of the instructional design project, you will describe your instructional solution within a written design proposal assignment. You will then develop a prototype that will be the subject of a round of formative evaluation. As the final assignment, you will submit a complete unit of instruction that must conform to the project’s style guide, and incorporate all necessary content presentation, learner practice, and assessment materials.

What are the costs & prerequisites?

  • Cost: This course is free.
  • Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for the course.
  • Required resource purchases: None.

What is the time commitment?

To be successful in this course, you should plan to devote 40 hours of time to the course (i.e. three to four hours per week). Like most experiences in life, the worth of this course is related to the time and effort committed to it. Therefore, while lurkers are welcomed, the experience will be enhanced through active engagement in discussion and personal reflection. Your personal commitment to actively engage three to four hours per week in the course will help to support a worthwhile experience for you and others.

MOOC Timeline v3

What will I do in this course?

During this 12-week course, you will progress through seven course modules containing practice exercises, individual assignments, and group discussion to design and develop open educational resources (OER) for an important instructional need. This course is designed to be self-guided, and you will work at your own pace reviewing each module’s materials and participating in the prompted discussions and individual assignments. However, due dates are included for most discussions and assignments to keep everyone on track to complete the course by May 15, 2016.

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. Here is a breakdown of what you will do within each module:

  • Analyze: Within Modules 1 and 2, you will analyze key aspects of the design need. In Module 1, you will consider the learners and the the learning context. In Module 2, you will dive into the requirements of the project, including a close examination of the College and Career Readiness Standards. You will also explore and analyze available free and openly licensed open educational resources (OER) that you can adapt to meet the requirements of this project.
  • Synthesize: Within Modules 2 and 3, you will make your first attempts at generating possible solutions to meet the instructional design need. You will contemplate established instructional principles to design instructional strategies to support learning.
  • Simulate: Within Modules 4 and 5, you will take the ideas swirling in your head and develop draft representations of your design conception. In Module 4, you will offer a representation of your ideas within a written design proposal. This will be followed in Module 5 with your development of a second design iteration, a prototype of your instructional materials based on your written design proposal.
  • Evaluate: Within Module 6, you will assess whether your draft design representation (i.e. prototype) is meeting the needs and constraints of this project through self, peer, and expert evaluation activities. Evaluation forces a designer to critically examine the efficacy and efficiency of the instruction in light of the design need.
  • Decide: Within Module 7, you will make your final design decisions as you prepare your final deliverable based on the feedback you have received through self, peer, and expert evaluation of your design prototype. As your final assignment in this course, you will submit the instructional materials you have designed and developed. Those who submit final deliverables that meet the design criteria will be invited to include their instructional materials on the Designers for Learning Adult Learning Zone group in OER Commons.

What is the instructional design project?

This is a project-based course that focuses on a real-world instructional need. You will gain instructional design experience while developing instructional materials that will be made available for free to adult educators and their learners. Here is an overview of the instructional design project:

  • The instructional materials you design and develop will support adult learners who have not completed high school and are taking adult basic education courses as they prepare for high school equivalency exams (i.e. the GED, HiSET, or TASC tests) or other certifications.
  • The instruction you design will align with the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) that underly high school equivalency exams and other adult basic education programs.
  • You are able to select the topic of the instruction from the following subject areas:
    • English Language Arts,
    • Math,
    • Science, or
    • Social Studies
  • The materials you design and develop will incorporate an instructor guide, as well as all necessary content presentation, learner practice, and assessment materials for 15-30 minutes of instruction on the standard and topic you have chosen.

Do I work on the instructional design project alone?

While this course is designed for individuals working alone on an instructional design project, you are welcome to work on the instructional design project with others, including as part of a class project or practicum in an instructional design program. In addition, faculty are invited to include this project in an instructional design class they are teaching.

Why is this called a “service” course?

This course is a service-learning experience where you will gain experience for good. Service learning is an educational approach that incorporates academic coursework with opportunities for applied learning. Service-learning is a unique form of experiential learning in that community service is a central component of the experience. A hallmark of service learning is the reciprocal benefit gained by the learner from the experience, and by the community from the service provided.

Service Learning

Why should I participate in this course?

Gain Experience for Good

Through your participation in this course, you will further your own professional development in instructional design, while offering your service contributions to a grossly underserved educational segment of adult learners and instructors. In the US alone, 30 million adults do not have high school credentials, but less than 2 million are currently supported within federally funded adult education programs. While we have a U.S.-centric focus on this project, support for adult education is a need around the globe. and the open educational resources (OER) created on on this project can be adapted for other contexts.

US HS Diploma

Earn an Instructional Design Service Badge

Upon successful completion of this course, you will earn an Instructional Design Service Badge to acknowledge that you have completed an instructional design process to develop an instructional product to support a social need. In other words, you have gained experience for good! To earn an Instructional Design Service Badge, you must:

  • Complete the requirements in Modules 1-6.
  • Submit a final deliverable as required in Module 7.

Instructional Design Badge

Earn a Certificate of Recognition

Upon successful completion of this course, you will also receive a Certificate of Recognition* from Designers for Learning recognizing your instructional design service contribution. Successful completion will be determined based on a Designers for Learning facilitator’s assessment of the following:

  • Your successful completion of all Instructional Design Service Badge requirements (see requirements above)
  • Your submission of a complete final deliverable meeting all of the requirements for upload to the Adult Learning Zone group on OER Commons

* Please note that we do not offer a letter of reference or other certifications based on this experience given the relatively short duration of the project (i.e. an estimated 40 hours of design work).

Expand your CV, Resume or Portfolio

We are often asked how participants in our projects should describe this service-learning experience in a CV, resume, or portfolio. Some suggestions are to:

  • Describe this course experience within the “service” section of your CV or resume.
  • Include that you were a participant in a service-learning project facilitated by Designers for Learning.
  • Note the scope and duration of the project, and the number of service hours you spent working on the instructional design project.
  • Provide details of your specific contribution, and the outcome of your efforts.
  • Given that all content produced within this project is released under a Creative Commons license, feel free to include copies of the work you produced on this project within your design portfolio.

Who are the course designers and facilitators?

A unique aspect of this course is that it was designed and is being facilitated by an all volunteer team with Designers for Learning. Starting in the fall of 2015, a team of volunteers spent 20 weeks designing and developing this course. Another team is volunteering for 12 weeks as your course facilitators. You will meet many of these volunteers in course videos, and in the discussion forums. The team of volunteers includes professional instructional designers and adult educators with years of subject matter experience. For more information about the design team, the subject matter experts, and our design process, please visit our website where you will find:

By the end of this course, these professional educators and instructional designers will have volunteered over 1,000 hours of their time to design and facilitate this service-learning experience. A conservative estimate of the professional services donated by the volunteers who designed and are facilitating this course exceeds $50,000. We thank them for their volunteer service!

Questions or Comments?

Thank you for your interest in volunteering your time, skills, and knowledge to this important need as part of this service course! Please forward this course announcement to other students or faculty, and contact Designers for Learning with any questions or comments.