Fantastic & Free First Fridays: Everything and the Kitchen Sink!!!!!

Spring is (finally) in the air! Up until this week, the only green we had seen here in Chicago was the iconic dying of the Chicago River on St. Patrick's Day. However, in just the last week, the buds in the trees have begun to emerge, the tulips have started to peek open, and the air has started to actually be warm, as opposed to the only warmth coming from being in direct sunlight...and, even then, only with the absence of any breeze whatsoever. 

While this delay in hibernation-ending warmth has caused some confusion amongst the trees, flowers, and birds here in the Windy City, it's been great for keeping me inside and focused on scouring the web for great resources. So while we might have to wait a few more weeks for all the splendors of spring to finally arrive, I'm happy to report that CrowdED Learning's library of free and open resources is IN FULL BLOOM!

This week's Fantastic & Free First Fridays resource of the month is: CrowdED Learning's Skill Directory!!!! After months of searching, talking to educators, and going down a number of rabbit holes, I am happy to announce that we've pushed live our first ever set of skill directories—listings of great content revolving around core skill areas critical for adult learner success. This is the first step in our intricate, not-so-super-secret plot to come up with ways to make quality, free resources more widely available to learners and instructors. 

CrowdED Learning's Skill Directory includes downloads for each of the content 
areas above. Each PDF download includes a listing of free and open 
educational resources that provide great curriculum, activities, and more.

Using the Skill Directory

For each of the subject areas shown on the Skill Directory, there is a downloadable PDF (stored on Dropbox) full of some of the best, most comprehensive free and open resources for that particular subject. The resources that are listed have been chosen because they offer a comprehensive range of activities, lessons, videos, games, and more related to that particular subject. 

Beyond the links to these great resources, you will see a few other important links on each subject-level PDF. At the top of the page, you'll see an "Open in Drive" link. This allows you to simply grab a copy of the original directory (created in Google Docs) and make a copy in your Drive folder. This will give you the ability to maintain your own version that you can modify or adjust however you see fit. 

The second link you'll see is one that launches a feedback form. Is there a great resource you know or use related to a particular subject that is missing? Please let us know! The directory is intended to be a living, breathing set of documents that capture great resources, organized by content area....and it will evolve and grow over time. Consider this version 1.0.....of infinity :)

When you launch one of the subject-area resources in Dropbox, click the download button to
download the PDF file to your computer. 
You can also click the "Open in Drive" link in the 
top left-hand corner of the document to open the file as a Google Doc in your Drive. If you
have a resource suggestion or have a comment on one of the resources listed, there's a link
that launches a form to provide your feedback or suggestion. 

Where We Go from Here

This is Step 1 of how we plan to go about providing more meaningful delivery of quality free resources to learners and instructors. Over the next few months, we are going to be actively recruiting volunteers to go into these various websites and review, identify, and tag specific content that is engaging, effective, and aligns to standards and objectives within core skill frameworks (College & Career Readiness Skills for Adult Education, the Employability Skills Framework, etc.). All of the websites within the directory have content specific to particular subjects. The goal of further curation is to start identifying which particular resources (videos, PDFs, articles, e-Modules, etc.) align to specific standards and skills, allowing for us to take individual resources from these various sites and organize them around a single competency. It is our belief that through such organized curation and content aggregation, we can develop a learning platform that is populated with only the best resources—pulled from various sources and aligned to specific competencies—that allows for easier integration into teaching and learning. 

Over time, we will be building out a learning platform that takes the scattered array of free and open resources and organizes curated content around specific core competencies needed by adult learners for educational, career, and life success. Through better organization and continuous evaluation and ranking of resources, we hope to make integration of the best learning resources more efficient and effective.

How can you help?

We are already in the process of building a database that allows for the entry of resources tagged to specific standards and content frameworks. What we need next are volunteers who are interested in reviewing materials to identify the particular standards to which they align. This will allow us to begin the process of content aggregation and curation by way of entry into the database. In particular, we are looking for people who are really passionate about teaching a particular subject, people who serve in curriculum specialist/subject matter expert roles, and people who have experience with aligning content and resources (free and not free) to standards. 

Join the crowd and be part of the solution!
Does this sound like something you might be interested in supporting? Please fill out this form to let us know more about you and what expertise you are interested in sharing. 

We are super excited to finally be putting out into the world this first set of materials! We believe there are more effective ways to increase awareness and use of great free learning resources, and this is just one of a number of things we are doing to make that happen. 

Our mission can only be realized through the collective effort of dedicated people who believe in the power of education to reduce barriers for adults to achieving self-sufficiency. So, please take some time to check out all the great resources we've compiled. Like what you see? Want to see more? Please let us know

In the meantime, please also check out www.crowdedlearning.orgThere, you can learn more about our goings on and sign up to volunteer your expertise, stay in touch, or make content recommendations. 

This is a movement...we'd love to have you join!!!


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