Today at OpenEd Jam we presented on what needs to be done to create an open assessment ecosystem for K-12 education.   While other resources such as videos and games and even full-fledged lesson plans a thriving ecosystem is emerging. OpenEd participates in this (along with many other OERs such as Curriki, WatchKnowLearn, and OER Commons) and we feel we have done several things to make it easier to use such resources in daily teaching in a practical way.

But the world of formative assessments in still quite closed and proprietary  If you believe in formative assessments (frequent daily or weekly quizzes on subject matter to level set students abilities) there are not a lot of options besides your school or district paying a lot of money for an item bank, or spending a large amount of effort writing questions yourself.  

The only way way we see around this is creation of an open ecosystem for assessment content, just as has emerged around other types of educational content.  We discuss the creation tools and interop standards that exist today that could potentially help start this shift.   And identify what is stopping them from doing that. 

We then identify the requirements tools and content that would help begin this shift:

  • free “modern” assessment item content 
  • free authoring tools
  • free grading/analytics
  • web-based (no client install) for easy access
  • available hosted (no server install)
  • all open source
  • exchangeable, loadable content (reads/writes QTI or other standard)

After briefly describing OpenEd’s overall mission and core resource library product we discuss why we need to build our own assessment tool to address these needs. 

We then presented what the OpenEd assesssment tool does including its core innovation of “resource backed” assessments. 

Finally we presented a call to action for educators and developers in helping to create this assessment ecosystem, whether or not in cooperation with or based on  Here is the presentation

We are here this week at the International Society for Technology in Education conference, where we just won Best of Show for our groundbreaking new assessment tool.   What’s ground-breaking about it you may ask?  Beyond the fact that its the only free assessment tool for “modern style” assessment items (the question types demanded by the Common Core, Smarter Balanced and PARCC), the OpenEd assessment tool is “resource backed”, enabling a new teaching paradigm that we refer to as “formative flipped”.  

What do we mean by this term? There is a growing consensus that teaching with formative assessments is a better way to do things.   Quiz your class first, and frequently.  Find the gaps in each student’s knowledge and work with them on those deficiencies.    

This still leaves the question of how to work with them on those gaps.   If you are truly going to “teach them” yourself, that’s a lot of customized lecturing for a class of 25 students.   

But another trend, the “flipped classroom” would seem to help.   Give the students videos and games to consume at home based on the needs you determine with formative assessments.   In a ten question test of mastery of a certain skill or standard, you can quickly determine just what they know and don’t know.  Then go find the right resources for each student to use to achieve mastery.    

Of course you (the teacher) then need to go find those resources.  That is time consuming.   Standards like the Common Core help quite a bit by identifying the “bite-size” skills that are necessary for a student to master a skill.   Most OERs and other online resources don’t do a particularly good job identifying standards.  But OpenEd was built to solve this problem: it will give you a wealth of resources for each and every Common Core standard.

That still doesn’t go quite far enough: you are still finding the resources to go along with each standard or skill gap yourself.  This is the primary reason why we built our own assessment tool.  OpenEd’s assessments are “resource-backed”, allowing the assessment tool itself to drive the personalized learning recommendations for students.

What does “resource-backed” mean exactly?  Assessment items (questions) can be associated with resources when they are written (we even suggest questions to use to the teachers and assessment writers).  When a student takes an assessment the OpenEd assessment runner suggests resources to address the knowledge gaps from any particular question.   

We believe that this “formative to flipped” approach will enable personalized learning for each student to take place at scale, not just for the lowest or highest performing students where most personalized learning plans get created today.  

We are piloting this approach with several districts this fall and will be measuring the gains with those districts of formative-flipped over conventional classroom methods.  

We hope you are enjoying your summer, and that you are also spending some time getting ready for the challenges of the coming year. If you believe in teaching with formative assessments (as we do) part of that is planning your assessment content to determine mastery for each topic and guide the instruction needed for each student.

To that end, we recently released the first free modern (Common Core, PARCC and SBAC style) assessment tool. It is also the only assessment tool oriented around associating resources with assessment items. When students struggle with an assessment OpenEd will recommend resources to garner the necessary skills.

Take a look at this video from Brandon Dorman on building formative assessments with the new assessment tool:

(the direct link for this is

We also want announce our “Question Bounty program”. We are building many questions and assessments ourselves to cover Common Core standards, all released open source via Creative Commons license. We will also be announcing partnerships with paid assessment providers soon. Basically we will offer paid formative assessment item bank content as part of an OpenEd “subscription” (a small monthly fee of $10 to access all paid private content). But we want to encourage the community to contribute to the open free items as we are doing.

So here is what we are offering. For every assessment question you create which meets the following criteria we will credit you $10 towards a subscription (i.e. one month of free usage of paid content) allowing access to paid provider content. For an assessment item (question) to qualify it should:
1) be aligned to a Common Core standard
2) get used by another teacher 
3) does NOT get flagged as misaligned or otherwise inappropriate by another teacher within one month

We will have a “wall of fame” soon showing the volume of contributions for each teachers (since we need the report to give you credit for subscription anyway). We will also be featuring particularly good questions that are created on an ongoing basis. Please let us know if you have any questions about our Question Bounty program or our assessment tool in general.

At OpenEd our mission has always been to provide the largest K-12 educational resource catalog.  And the tools (playlists, courses and recommendation engine) to help teachers get these resources used.  

We always wanted to focus on true high value resources, not random documents.  To us that has always meant videos, games and assessments.    And we have thousands of great assessments and questions from partners such as IXL and Shmoop.  

In the process of getting great assessment content we  found that there isn’t nearly as much teacher-created content for questions and assessments as there is for other resource types such as videos.   This results in not quite the breadth of coverage on each and every Common Core standard that we manage to have, for example, on videos.  And of course formative assessments are critical in insuring that other resources are working in helping students gain mastery before students get to high stakes tests.

Since formative assessments are such an important tool in using resources in personalized learning, we asked teacher community (forward thinkers all)  what they used for creating them.  The answers we heard varied from Google Forms to Hot Potatoes to handwritten worksheets.  But of course none of these are targeted at the modern style of assessment questions required by the Common Core (and its corresponding test types Smarter Balanced and PARCC).  This means supporting types such as Multiple Response, Free Response and Composite Items.  It’s just not possible to do these types with old school quizzing tools or Google Forms. 

We think this a big obstacle in getting students ready the demands of the Common Core.  So we have created a free (and open source) assessment creation tool on OpenEd oriented to the needs of modern assessment.  We believe that this is the only free modern assessment tool oriented to the needs of the item types required by the Common Core (and thus Smarter Balanced and PARCC). 

But most interestingly we allow teachers to associate resources (such as videos and games) with individual questions.  And when students don’t quite demonstrate mastery on the full assessment we suggest what resources they can use to achieve that mastery.   This takes formative assessments from a tool just a way to show teachers who needs help to showing them HOW to help them.

We think we have changed the game in modern assessment creation.  Please give it a try and let us know what you think.

We are announcing that the OpenEd LMS add is now in beta.  This means that you can access OpenEd’s million videos, games and assessments (searchable by standard, subject or grade) right from your existing LMS as long as that LMS supports the LTI standard (which almost every LMS but Edmodo does). 

To use this download it from the Edu App Center or just paste this URL.   You can also watch this short video tutorial

If you are familiar with using LTI addons from LMS packages such as Canvas, Moodle or Sakai, please check out the LMS addon beta now and give us feedback.  

We have been co-sponsoring a series of conferences on how technology can address the challenges of the Common Core, called Common Core Tech.   By request we are offering this virtually, via GoToWebinar for those of you who don’t live in California or other areas that we plan to offer this.

We are excited about our roster of leading ed tech innovators and educator leaders.  Please take a look at and sign up for any sessions you are interested in.  We hope to see many of you there.  

Hello Teachers,

We are excited to announce the availability of public courses.   You can now choose to Publish any course you have created to the rest of the OpenEd community (tens of thousands of other K-12 teachers).

And of course you can use courses that other teachers have created.  You can find them by choosing resource type of Course in a search.  The OpenEd curators at OpenEd have created courses for every grade level (K-12) in mathematics, language arts and science.   The OpenEd created courses all have “OpenEd:” at the beginning of the title. These courses use every single Common Core standard for a grade level and group them together in logical topics.    Resources are then assigned for each topic.   

You can create your own courses starting with any of these courses by clicking on Clone Course.    Please let us know what you think about public courses and if you have questions for other course content that we can create for you.  

- the team at OpenEd


We now have both iPad and Android student-focused apps available for your students to consume the content of your courses.   The iPad app is here.  The Android app is here.    

The tablet apps allow students to view assigned videos, play assigned games and search for new resources themselves. 

Please note that these are student focused.  Today you need to log in as a student to use them.   We will be removing the distinction between student and teacher accounts later based on user feedback.

Please let us know what you think.  

Happy holidays K-12 Educators,

We are excited to announce a major new enhancement to the OpenEd catalog.  We have now added over one hundred thousand assessments.  These are from great content creators such as PBS, Brain Genie, and Khan Academy.  Most are aligned to Common Core standards.  Because of the availability of our API we are getting new contributions from content providers every week.  

The availability of assessments to determine mastery of standards and course topics opens the door to a variety of exciting new features which you will start seeing early in 2014.  

We are excited to announced that we now have Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium content available on OpenEd.  Specifically this that we take the SBAC claims and targets and provide resources aligned to each one.  

You might say “hey, OpenEd already has resources tied to the Common Core standards, which SBAC purports to test. Isn’t this the same thing?” It turns out that SBAC does not actually test every CC standard. It has its own area of emphasis.   We are responding to teachers who have said that they want the focused list of resources for what SBAC tests.   We’ve listened and now have this available.  

Specifically please click on the By Standard tab and notice the following “standard groups” at the bottom left:

Choose specific claims and targets underneath these groups and you will see resources chosen for each one.    

We will of course be adding resources specifically tied to PARCC standards later as well.   But note that you already have resources tied to each Common Core standard that PARCC tests today.