Tag Archives: Free

The MOOC Alternative to Earn College Credit


When it comes to traditional education alternatives students today have many choices. The biggest hurdle though is the fact most of them cannot afford to pay for tuition; earn a degree without incurring too much debt and ensure their degree comes from an accredited institution. The surge in the availability of  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) has tried to solve some of these problems by offering Free courses. The issue with the MOOCs is that they do not grant credits (yet) accepted at an accredited college or institution of higher learning.

Most of us know about the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). I have taken some of their tests in the past myself, but what if I told there is now a way students can get ready for most of the 33 subjects tested by the program. That is exactly what Education Portal is doing by offering 31 FREE courses (with a library of over 1,100 video lectures and more in development) to anybody willing to spend the time educating themselves.

I recently sat down with Ben Wilson one of the Co-Founders of Education Portal to talk about the challenges facing many of our students today. He shared with me how Education Portal’s prep courses  help students get ready to take CLEP tests and how this credit granting exam program has been overlooked through the rise of the MOOCs. The fact that we already have an existing infrastructure in place to take this kind of exams makes them a logical choice for students looking to save some money or to fast-track their studies.

Education Portal also helps students search for schools, degrees and careers in their field of choice. They have an extensive video library with almost 200 career specific videos describing typical job skills and duties as well as training and education standards for entry into that field. There is no requirement to login into their site so anybody can browse their courses and pick what interests them. All of the courses include a series of video lectures with full transcripts and quizzes that measure  students knowledge.

The guys behind this concept Adrian Ridner and Ben Wilson met while taking classes at Cal Poly State University in Califonia. Their company is a true self-funded startup and one they  have worked tirelessly at since 2002 to pursue their dream of making education accessible to everyone, everywhere. Their efforts have paid off, and they now run Remilon, a company which employs 50 people and has a team of over 200 instructors, course developer and contributors.

The use of CLEP tests as an alternative to traditional educational outlets is an often overlooked path towards gaining college credits while saving time and money along the way. Education Portal has built a very nice platform that I see gaining momentum as students look for ways to save money while still meeting the demands from higher education institutions. Learn more about Education Portal by visiting their website at http://education-portal.com/

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons for Educators


When it comes to finding free and open educational resources many educators used to face an uphill battle. This all changed with the foundation of Creative Commons (CC) by a group of thought leaders, education experts, technologists, legal scholars, investors, entrepreneurs and philanthropists back in 2001.

The idea being that anybody (including educators) can freely share their intellectual content through a cleverly crafted licensing system that complies with current copyright laws. The first version of the licenses was introduced in 2002 with a specific set of permissions established by the Creative Commons foundation; since then three versions have been released.

The Creative Commons licensing system allow content creators to share as much or little content as they want to. The group celebrated their 10th year anniversary this past December and currently are in the process of putting the finishing touches to version 4.0 of the licensing scheme.

This week I had the opportunity to sit down with their CEO, Catherine Casserly for a Google+ hangout to talk about Creative Commons, their vision for education and how educators worldwide can benefit from its use.

We also talked about Open Education Week (March 11-15, 2013) and the many activities they have planned this year. The purpose of Open Education Week is to raise awareness about the open education movement and its impact on teacher and learning worldwide. To learn more about Open Education Week please  click the banner below.

Open Education Week

 So where can you find out more about Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources. Please take a look at some of these resources below.

ccsearchPlease note that search.creativecommons.org is not a search engine, but rather offers convenient access to search services provided by other independent organizations. CC has no control over the results that are returned.

Do not assume that the results displayed in this search portal are under a CC license. You should always verify that the work is actually under a CC license by following the link. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

ocwThe OpenCourseWare Consortium is a worldwide community of hundreds of higher education institutions and associated organizations committed to advancing OpenCourseWare and its impact on global education.


MIT OpenCourseWare has been releasing its materials — web versions of virtually all MIT course content — under a CC BY-NC-SA license since 2004. Today, MIT OCW has 2000 courses available freely and openly online for anyone, anywhere to adapt, translate, and redistribute. The OpenCourseWare concept has now spread to hundreds of universities worldwide.


The Khan Academy offers over 3,000 instructional videos covering everything from basic algebra to advanced chemistry, biology, and even the current day banking crisis. The Khan Academy is currently exploring a system that awards learners points and badges as they progress.





Boundless helps students learn better by connecting them with a wealth of high quality, openly licensed, free educational content, as well as the tools they need to succeed. They firmly believe knowledge should be free and have gathered the best open educational resources available on the web. This comes as a great alternative to the high cost of  commercial textbooks.


The CK-12 Foundation addresses the growing costs of textbooks and the closed, outdated medium in which they are available. Focusing specifically on textbooks for U.S. K-12 schools, the nonprofit works with states and institutions to build web-based, collaborative “flexbooks” that are free to use and adapt in multiple formats like PDF, iPad and Kindle. Over 90 textbooks are available for reuse under the CC BY-NC-SA license. The CK-12 Foundation is also a major contributor to the California Free Digital Textbooks Initiative, a CA initiative that aligns open textbooks to state standards.

currikiCurriki is known as the “next generation wiki” for K-12 education; it is an online community and wiki platform for teachers, learners, and education experts to share, reuse, and remix educational resources. Instead of purchasing supplemental materials, teachers can find and develop resources, share lesson plans, and collaborate on materials with each other. More than 40,000 educational resources are available on the platform under CC BY-NC, with much of this content aligned to state standards.

ConnectionsConnexions is a repository and collaborative platform of educational materials that breaks down larger collections, such as textbooks and courses, into basic building blocks known as modules. Each module has a corresponding web page, so educators can mix and match pages to create custom lessons. All ~20,000 modules are licensed CC BY so they can be continually edited, translated, and adapted. Collaborative Statistics is an example of one textbook that has seen this remix and revision since its initial publication on the platform.

bloomsbury-academicBloomsbury Academic is an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, publisher of the Harry Potter series. Bloomsbury Academic publishes its research titles in the humanities and social sciences under CC BY-NC, with the complete text of its CC-licensed publications available on its website. Bloomsbury Academic also offers the printed or ebook versions for purchase, resulting in a hybrid business model where free digital access supplements high quality formats. Its research publications include CC Board member Lawrence Lessig’s Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy.

OEROER Commons Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse, without charge. Open Educational Resources are different from other resources a teacher may use in that OER have been given limited or unrestricted licensing rights.

photopinPhoto Pin is my favorite website to search for images with Creative Commons licenses. They allow you to search millions of Creative Commons photos from Flickr and so you can easily add them to your blog posts, class projects or student assignments.

p2puPeer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is a grassroots education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls and gives learners recognition for their achievements — creating a model for lifelong learning alongside traditional higher education models. Leveraging the Internet and open educational resources, P2PU provides a social environment for anyone to organize courses, study groups, and design challenges on anything from Copyright 4 Educators to Webmaking 101. All community-produced content is made available for reuse under a default CC BY-SA license. P2PU is also exploring alternative methods of assessment and certification through its badges pilot.

As always if you like this post feel free to leave your comments and questions below. Let’s keep the conversation going on Twitter @AnibalPachecoIT and Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Creative Commons License

Claco .: United We Teach… Together We Learn!

A month ago I wrote a post about ClassConnect a cloud based service that allow teachers to build, organize, store and share lessons with other educators. I promised to bring you some updates and I am pleased to announce that ClassConnect has left the Imagine K-12 incubator and its now Claco.

The premise remains the same, to help educators work collaboratively with other professionals from around the world. I have been BETA testing it, and I love what they have done since we talked and how it has developed. The new version of the service allows storage, and easy access, to any website, video, files and more from a single location. There is also an option to align resources with the newly introduced Common Core curriculum.

Besides the ability to store any resources, one might need for a class they have added a social component that allows sharing content on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. One can also add notes to binders, create folders within them, drag & drop resources and even add embed code for multimedia content (think PBS, Khan Academy, YouTube, ect…) that plays from the binder with no ads. This last one is a great idea for Flipped Classroom, Project Based Learning or Professional Development with other educators. Claco is also behind the #UnitedWeTeach movement on Twitter, so be sure to follow their hashtag.

The service is Free, and will always remain Free according to Eric Simons, Claco’s CEO and Founder. To learn more about Claco or to request a BETA invite please visit http://www.claco.com/ or show them some love on Twitter @TeamClaco Don’t forget to like this on Facebook and continue to share, learn and collaborate with others.

Creative Commons License

Managing student behavior in the Classroom

ClassDojo is a classroom tool that helps teachers improve student behavior in their classrooms. It helps the busy educator optimize their daily routine and provide feedback for students and parents. This stunning webapp captures and generates behavioral data that can be shared with parents and administrators. One of the great advantages of using this tool is that you can literally access it from anywhere; whether you are on your desktop, smart phone or tablet device. It is free to use, and with just one touch on your device it allows teachers to instantly award points and badges based on a student’s behavior or participation. This tool can also be used to provide positive reinforcement without making the students feel as if they were being punished.

Students and parents have access to a profile page that is updated in real-time to see how they are doing in class, and what badges/points they have earned. As a teacher, you can use Class Dojo’s reward system to provide instant visual notifications for students to see (e.g. ‘Well done Daniel! +1 for helping others!’). 
I recently had the opportunity to sit down for a talk with ClassDojo’s Co-Founder, Sam Chaudhary to talk about their vision and the future of ClassDojo. So, please be sure to watch the interview video and visit the ClassDojo YouTube channel for some pretty cool videos about this great product, its many features and how it is helping teachers around the world manage behavior in the classroom while increasing student engagement.
Sam Chaudhary –  ClassDojo Co-Founder Interview

ClassDojo Introduction 


Creative Commons License

Slidepoint PowerPoint converter

Slidepoint is a free service that allows you to convert existing PowerPoint slideshows using a very fast and unique converter. The main advantage in using this product over other converters I have used in the past, was the ease of use, and the speed in which the file was converted. The service also features the ability for you to create presentations online from scratch, and allows you to store up to 10 presentations online. 
The thing that impressed me the most was that every one of the links in my presentation worked, and was clickable right from their website player. In order to get more space in their system they use a reputation system to rank members and grant rewards. You can earn reputation points for being active on the site (creating content, as well as viewing and rating other presentations). As you gain reputation points, you earn rewards like extra features and storage in your account. In addition, the highest-ranking members receive benefits such as home page listings, prominent listing in searches, and more. Pretty cool… to find out more please visit Slidepoint and create your free account. Below you will find my Open Source presentation after it was converted.