Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Support Center Home


What Is SkillsCommons

View category →

Answer: SkillsCommons is a repository. It is not an LMS. If you have courses built in an LMS, they can be exported in a zip file and then uploaded into SkillsCommons.

Note that you may want to export your course in both an LMS-specific format and the IMS Common Cartridge format, if your LMS offers the option.   You can then submit both sets of files.  The LMS-specific format will provide the highest fidelity when someone imports the content into the same LMS brand at their institution.  The Common Cartridge format may provide the best option when importing into an LMS that is different from the one where the export was made.


Answer: Yes. The simplest way to handle this is to save a copy of your materials with “draft” in the file name when you upload your materials. Once the review process has been completed you can remove “draft” from the file name and upload the materials to SkillsCommons.


New Accounts

View category →

Answer: Please visit our Contribute & Manage Materials support page where you can set up your user account and begin uploading your materials.

 


Answer: Many of the Grantees have found it more manageable if they have a few people designated to upload the material.  We recommend each grant designating a person (or a few people) who will become skilled in uploading and cataloging the materials.   You will likely have few problems and can develop efficiencies by managing the uploading process.  Ultimately, it is up to you how you want to manage the process.

Here is a link to a brief form that needs to be completed for those who want to have a user account setup on SkillsCommons to contribute material:  Create New Account Form


User Guides

View category →

Answer: Yes, please visit our Support Services Center for guides, videos, tutorials and manuals.


Answer: Yes. Please visit our Prepare Your Materials page to learn how to best prepare your materials before you upload them into the repository.


Answer: Yes, please visit our Support Services Center for guides, tutorials, videos and much more.

If you would like to schedule a webinar please contact support@skillscommons.org.


Answer: Your project is required to ensure that all people, including those with disabilities have equally effective access to the instructional materials.   The SkillsCommons Support Services Center provides resources guides and websites that provide you some basic support for addressing the accessibility requirements of commonly used file formats and resources to help ensure you apply the principles of Universal Design for Learning to the materials you have created.

Please visit our Accessibility Requirements page to learn how to satisfy the TAACCCT grant accessibility requirements.

Please visit our Accessibility & SkillsCommons page to learn about our accessibility support strategy.


Answer: Yes. Please visit our Assuring the Quality of Online & Hybrid Courses page.

The SkillsCommons Support Services Center provides information, evaluation rubrics, and access to experts that can support your team design high quality teaching and learning within online and hybrid courses. The California State University has organized all these sources for you to use as a “one-stop-shop” for information about quality assurance strategies for online and hybrid courses. The California State University also has developed and implemented a free quality assurance evaluation rubric for online and hybrid courses (Quality Online Learning and Teaching, QOLT) over the last 4 years that you can use to guide and assess the quality of your TAACCT OER courses.

There are nationally recognized quality assurance organizations that you can join to support designing quality instruction into your programs. These organizations provides excellent professional development programs and well-researched and reliable rubrics for evaluating the quality of online and hybrid courses.


Answer: Yes.

The SkillsCommons Support Services Center provides some design and packaging guidelines for authoring and organizing your instructional materials to help others reuse your materials.

Please visit our Enabling Others to Reuse Your Materials page.

The SkillsCommons Support Services Center provides a resources guide to help you consider different ways of that your materials can be used because of the CC BY license.

Please visit our Reuse & revise Open Educational Resources page.


Uploading Process

View category →

Answer: Yes. Please choose one lead college in the consortium to submit each of the types of curriculum so it’s only submitted into www.skillscommons.org once for the entire consortium.  You should tag/reference the other consortium members who also used the same curriculum in the description field.

If there is a substantial variation that may be of interest to others, you might want to post both versions in that case and explain the difference.


Answer: Many of the Grantees have found it more manageable if they have a few people designated to upload the material.  We recommend each grant designating a person (or a few people) who will become skilled in uploading and cataloging the materials.   You will likely have few problems and can develop efficiencies by managing the uploading process.  Ultimately, it is up to you how you want to manage the process.

Here is a link to a brief form that needs to be completed for those who want to have a user account setup on SkillsCommons to contribute material:  Create New Account Form


Answer: Learning Resources are the materials that are used for teaching a course.

Program Support Materials are the materials used to administrate or support the course. Typical program support materials might include items such as:

  • Program Administration Materials
  • Job Training/ Fieldwork Experiences (internships, apprenticeships, community service, etc.)
  • Recruitment & Outreach (brochures, videos, websites, etc.)
  • Partnership Resources
  • Articulation processes and agreements
  • Program Assessment and evaluation
  • Grant management materials
  • Student support materials (academic advising, tutoring, mentoring, job placement services
  • Instructor/Advisor/Case Manager support materials (lab manuals, advising manual, instructor guides, course syllabi, etc.)

Answer:  SOMETIMES YES – SOMETIMES NO  Although program management and implementation tools, outreach materials, and other program support materials are tangible items that could be considered “works” produced through your grant project, these items are not necessarily considered deliverables unless explicitly described as such in a grantee’s SOW.  Grantees should use their discretion in consultation with their FPO about which of these to submit to the Department.

In determining whether to submit an item, grantees should keep in mind that some of these materials that support your curricula and course materials may be necessary in order to understand, learn from, and replicate your work.  These may include course descriptions, outreach materials, such as those that describe the programs of study for your workforce system and other stakeholders and partners, or materials that document best practices in grant management.  In other cases, these materials may be research studies on how to better serve a specific target population.  These materials would be considered important to understanding your grant program of study deliverables and should be submitted together with the curricula and course materials using http://www.skillscommons.org/ with open license and disclaimers, as appropriate.  In the repository, these should be identified and categorized as “Program Support Materials” using the appropriate meta-data schema.

Other items, such as meeting minutes, organizational charts, institutional policies, that are created as a result of the operation of your grant program may provide useful information for understanding the administration of grant activities at your institution.  In cases where these items are more appropriately considered records, grantees should follow their institution’s policy on records management, which should be in alignment with Federal record-keeping requirements.


Answer:  Skills Commons should contain an original, complete copy of the material being hosted.


Answer: The Based on URL can be linked to anything even a proprietary source that you are noting in the introduction of the deliverable.

 


Answer: There are no character limits for the SkillsCommons.org form fields.


Answer: The embargo feature is for restricting access to assessments.

The embargo feature restricts access to files that are attached to submissions. You can place an embargo date on the file. If a user clicks on an embargoed file a message will appear letting them know that the file is restricted. They can at that time request access to the file. An email will be sent to the submitter letting them know that this person has requested access. It is then up to the original submitter (who uploaded the file) whether or not to allow this person access. If the submitter allows access then an email will be sent to the requester with a link to download the file. It is up to the submitter who gets this request to verify who the person is making the request and also up to the submitter on whether or not to approve it.

Please refer to our Embargo Guide for more information.


Subject Matter Experts

View category →

Answer: To support grantees in documenting the fulfillment of the SGA requirements for using subject matter experts and industry partners for assuring the quality of materials developed and used for the grant, SkillsCommons has created a guide for grant project directors or designated project staff to complete and post within SkillsCommons to assist in the documentation process.

Grantees may download a copy of the “Subject Matter Experts’ reviews of grant-created content and industry partner participation” guide posted on the Completing & Closing Out Your Grant Support Services Center page under the section SGA Voluntary Templates.


Answer: Yes. Grantees are required to identify third-party subject matter experts to conduct reviews of the deliverables produced through the grant. SkillsCommons does not provide Subject Matter Experts.


Answer: Subject matter experts are individuals with demonstrated experience in developing and/or implementing similar deliverables. These experts could include applicants’ peers, such as representatives from neighboring education and training providers. Expertise that is grounded in industry experience is essential for your program to be job-driven workforce development programs.

Grantees must provide the Department of Labor with the results of the review and the qualifications of the reviewer(s) at the time the deliverables are provided to the Department.


File Types/Sizes

View category →

Answer: There aren’t any limits on file sizes. However, if they are really large, then contact us and we will work with you on a solution to upload these taking into account connection speed, bandwidth, etc.


Answer: The easiest way to upload NTER content to SkillsCommons.org is to export the content from NTER and upload it to SkillsCommons.org

NTER has put an export feature in place to allow you to export the material you uploaded to NTER as a zip file. Once you have downloaded the zip file from NTER, you will need to upload it to the SkillsCommons.org repository.

Please see the Import/Export Instructions for NTER

If you have questions or need support for exporting your material from NTER, please contact NTER for additional support.


Answer: The Common Cartridge option is not a requirement but it can improve the ability of others to reuse your materials. The Common Cartridge option may be a plug-in your LMS administrator will need to add to get the export option for Common Cartridge. A Common Cartridge captures the application files, assessments, web links, and discussion topics in an LMS course for easy import into any other compliant LMS. Here is information about Common Cartridge : http://www.imsglobal.org/cc

You can upload the LMS export file of the OER materials to the SkillsCommons repository for now.


Answer: To enable others to easily access and work with all TAACCCT-funded, CCBY-licensed content, content should be made available in a file format that allows anyone to natively and directly edit the content. Content may be made available in multiple formats, but at least one of these formats must be openly editable by providing the original file format used to create the content. The type of file format varies by type of media:

For documents: Openly editable formats include original Microsoft Office files (e.g., doc, .docx., .ppt, etc) and other editable document files. An example of a closed document format is a PDF, since files with the .pdf extension do not allow edits.

For images: Source files should be shared for images (e.g. Adobe Photoshop), video clips, or Flash (such as FLA). 

For video: Common video formats include MP4 (H.264), MOV, OGM, WEBM, FLV, and AVI

For audio: Common audio formats include MP3, OGG, FLAC, and WAV, Theora and MP4. For audio-only files, exporting to OGG Vorbis and MP3 is recommended. Include high-resolution versions of videos where possible.

Retrieved 6/10/2016 from: http://www.doleta.gov/grants/pdf/taaccct_sga_dfa_py_12_10.pdf.  pg. 72.


Answer:  Given the broad availability of Microsoft Word®, you can upload the material in the .doc or .docx format, so that other people can edit the original with full fidelity. Please see Authoring Tools Considerations for SkillsCommons Contributors for more information.


Editing Submissions

View category →

Answer: Instructions on how to edit submissions to SkillsCommons.org can be found in the User Guides under “Editing an Item in the Repository.”

Please see the Contribute Materials section in our support services center to learn how to edit submissions.


Answer: There are no requirements for Grantees to maintain the materials after they are uploaded to the SkillsCommons Repository, after their grant is over.  However, there are many benefits to Grantees and their Institution if they continue to participate in the OER community. CSU-MERLOT and other TAACCCT partners will be working to support a sustainable and successful TAACCCT-OER Community.


Answer: Currently there is no way to cross-reference two deliverables within the submission process.

However, here are two options to work around this limitation:

  1. You can include, in the description, a link to each submission. So, you will first need to upload each submission. Then you will have URLs for each submission. At that point you can go in and edit the descriptions (referring to the Editing section in the user guide) and paste in the URLs you want to cross-reference. OR
  2. You can use the “Based On” field and paste the URLs in this field.

In summary, you will have to complete each submission first to obtain the URLs that you will end up using. You will need to then go in and edit each submission with the URL you have obtained.


Answer: It will not be necessary for grantees to use this feature. Items submitted to the repository are Open Educational Resources and are meant to be public.


Answer: It will not be necessary for grantees to use this feature.


Answer: It will not be necessary for grantees to use the “Withdraw” feature. But yes, if an item is withdrawn it still exists but will be removed from view, search and browse. If the item is withdrawn and then a grantee would like to re-instate the item they will need to contact support@skillscommons.org and supply the full URL of the item.


Answer: No. Each collection has unique fields that need to be captured and therefore can not be  moved between collections.

If you have mistakenly uploaded a submission to the incorrect collection you will need to delete the submission and then add it to the correct collection via the regular single submission process. This will ensure that the required fields for that particular submission are in place.


Answer: Yes, if you click “permanently delete” the item will be completely removed as if it were never uploaded.


Creative Commons Requirement

View category →

Answer: The CC licensing agreement on SkillsCommons is a separate requirement for submissions to the Repository. In addition, each individual item is required to have a CC BY license on it prior to uploading to SkillsCommons.

Please visit our Creative Commons Licensing Guidelines page for more information.


Answer: If applicable, the following needs to be on all products developed in whole or in part with grant funds, “This workforce product was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The product was created by the grantee and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. The U.S. Department of Labor makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership.”

Retrieved 12/5/2014 from: http://doleta.gov/grants/pdf/SGA-DFA-PY-10-03.pdf pg. 15.


Answer: Unless a grantee receives permission from the licensee to upload the purchased content to SkillsCommons, all proprietary material must be removed before uploading it to SkillsCommons. A grantee may put a statement that says what the proprietary material is and ideally a link to where others can find it from the publisher and arrange for their own rights to use.


Answer: The reason there are so many CC licensing choices in the submission process came about as a result of working with grantees in the early stages of development of the SkillsCommons metadata around the issue of being able to select different types of licenses for materials that were not licensed with a CC-BY license. For example, learning objects developed by the grantees themselves outside of the TAACCCT grant, or material used by the grantees that was developed by others and made available under a Creative Commons (or similar) license.

We think it’s wise to give the grantees the option of uploading these materials along with their other learning resources. However, we think it’s best to limit this only to material offered under any of the various Creative Commons licenses. Grantees will need to ensure that these materials include the reference to the appropriate CC license, just as they need to do that with the CC BY License for the TAACCCT materials themselves.”

To be clear, all proprietary material must be removed before uploading content to SkillsCommons. However, we think it’s valuable to end users to see all of the materials used in these courses, even if some of it is commercial. For this reason, we added a repeatable field to the learning resource metadata schema to allow grantees to link to the website where these resources can be obtained.

Grantees may put a statement that says what the proprietary material is and ideally a link to where others can find it from the publisher and arrange for their own rights to use.


Answer: You are only required to apply the CC-BY license to the course content developed with TAACCCT grant funds and then upload these content to SkillsCommons. In addition, if the previously created content was modified with TAACCCT grant funds, the revised content must be released with a CC-BY license and uploaded to SkillsCommons.

In the spirit of OER, grantees are encouraged to apply CC-BY license the entire course and upload it to SkillsCommons. This will provide wider recognition of your efforts. You can also apply alternative Creative Commons licenses to the previously create content (e.g. CC-BY-SA) that might be more acceptable to the authors of the content. Adding Creative Commons licenses and uploading the content to SkillsCommons provide opportunities for a wider audience to review, use, and build on your work.

If you do not upload the previously created content, it would be very helpful if you included a description of the additional resources used in your course so that people reviewing your submitted resources have a better understanding of the entire course context and content.


Answer: According to the SGA, the Department considers curricula, course materials, teacher guides, and other products developed with grant funds to be considered grant deliverables.  Many of these items were identified in each grantee’s statement of work as deliverables and to be submitted to the Department according to the workplan or prior to the end of the period of performance. Additional materials not identified in the original statement of work but produced with grant funding should also be uploaded to SkillsCommons. For example, if recruitment and outreach materials, student support materials, supplemental instructional materials, etc. was produced with grant funding, you should upload these materials as well.

Retrieved 6/10/2016 from: http://www.doleta.gov/grants/pdf/SGA-DFA-PY-13-10.pdf pgs. 54 (.iii) & 75 (4).


Answer: Creative Commons licenses are designed for content and not software code so you won’t add the Creative Commons license to the software code.  All software code should have documentation to describe the software code structure and strategy and the software documentation developed with TAACCCT grant funding must have the CC-BY license and DOL disclaimer in the document.

Creative Commons has recommendations on their FAQ page about open licensing of software code that we recommend as well. Please see: Can I Apply a Creative Commons License to Software?

“We recommend against using Creative Commons licenses for software. Instead, we strongly encourage you to use one of the very good software licenses which are already available. We recommend considering licenses made available by the Free Software Foundation or listed as “open source” by the Open Source Initiative.

Unlike software-specific licenses, CC licenses do not contain specific terms about the distribution of source code, which is often important to ensuring the free reuse and modifiability of software. Many software licenses also address patent rights, which are important to software but may not be applicable to other copyrightable works. Additionally, our licenses are currently not compatible with the major software licenses, so it would be difficult to integrate CC-licensed work with other free software. Existing software licenses were designed specifically for use with software and offer a similar set of rights to the Creative Commons licenses.

Version 4.0 of CC’s Attribution-ShareAlike (BY-SA) license is one-way compatible with the GNU General Public License version 3.0 (GPLv3). This compatibility mechanism is designed for situations in which content is integrated into software code in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to distinguish the two. There are special considerations required before using this compatibility mechanism. Read more about it here.

Also, the CC0 Public Domain Dedication is GPL-compatible and acceptable for software. For details, see the relevant CC0 FAQ entry.

While we recommend against using a CC license on software itself, CC licenses may be used for software documentation, as well as for separate artistic elements such as game art or music.”


Answer: Grantees cannot put a CC BY license on works that are purchased from iStock or other sources, as they are not the creator or rights holder. So, if grantees are mixing these works with new content that are being authored then a statement needs to be included that states: “Except where otherwise noted these materials are licensed Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY).”Then, wherever the proprietary, purchased material is used it must be stated that there is a copyright for example, “Photo title x © iStock used with permission.” A grantee can indicate how others can also find and purchase the rights to use it if they want.


Answer: Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships in Education in New Hampshire (AMPed NH) has submitted good examples of documents with CC BY licensing on them to the Repository. You can review their submissions here: http://www.skillscommons.org/handle/taaccct/223


Answer: Yes. The CC BY license allows commercial use. So for example businesses you’ve partnered with can also potentially use the course materials for staff or customer training.


Answer: A full description of all Creative Commons licenses can be found here: About The CC Licenses. As you will see there are other Creative Commons licenses that don’t allow others to make commercial use of works. However, for TAACCCT DOL has mandated that all works created with grant funds must be licensed CC BY, you cannot choose other Creative Commons licenses. The primary rationale here is that TAACCCT grant funds are public taxpayer money and the public (including businesses) should have access and rights to use what it has paid for.


Answer: Yes, grant funds can be used to purchase iStock and other stock photos, illustrations, music, and videos for course and promotional materials. However, SkillsCommons recommends free, openly licensed alternatives, which are readily available for many cases – see One-Stop-Shop for OER.

 


Downloading Material from SkillsCommons

View category →

Answer: When downloading, moving, or sending many files, it can be convenient to first compress into a single file the set of many files.  This single file is referred to as an archive or “zip” file.  An IMS Common Cartridge is such an archive with an extension of “imscc”.  Many Learning Management Systems (LMS) can export and import a course’s files in this format.  To view the content of the “imscc” file, simply rename the file’s extension to “zip”.  Your operating system should then offer a way to uncompress the file, by clicking on it, through a file menu, or tool such as Winzip on Windows and unzip on a Mac.  Note that to import the content into an LMS, refer to the imscc file and not its expanded folder of files.


Answer: A “zip” file is a compressed set of files that have been gathered into a single file for convenience.  Some browsers are configured to download a zip file and expand the zip into a folder of files while other browsers leave the “zip” uncompressed.  Given a zip file, uncompress the file, by clicking on it, through a file menu, or tool such as Winzip on Windows and unzip on a Mac.  A zip can contain many types of files.  Some files can be viewed simply by selecting them or double-clicking on them.  Other files may be specific to an application that you must have installed before the file can be launched.  For example, a file with the extension “doc” likely is intended for Microsoft Word and you will need that application installed before the file can be viewed.


Answer: SCORM, or Sharable Content Object Reference Model, is a specification for how a set of files are packaged and played.  A SCORM file is really an archive or compressed set of files.  To view the content of the SCORM file with the extension “zip”, uncompress the file, by clicking on it, through a file menu, or tool such as Winzip on Windows and unzip on a Mac.  If the file extension is not “zip”, rename it to “zip” first.  To run a SCORM file, you need a SCORM player, which is included with many Learning Management Systems (LMS).  You can also run a SCORM file in a more limited way from your web browser by clicking on the launch HTML file, which might be named index.html, story_html5.html, or similar.


Answer: Please refer to the Guide for Attribution of CC-BY Licensed Material for Derivative Works.

OPEN Attribution Builder is a free online Attribution Builder available from Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC). SBCTC built this Attribution Builder as part of their involvement with Creative Commons in providing support for TAACCCT grantees.


Answer: In order to view .scx files you will need the LLEAP – Laerdal Learning Application. LLEAP is a software that unifies the control of all PC-operated Laerdal simulators. Visit the Laerdal website for more information.


Reusing Materials from SkillsCommons

View category →

Answer: Please refer to the Guide for Attribution of CC-BY Licensed Material for Derivative Works.

OPEN Attribution Builder is a free online Attribution Builder available from Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC). SBCTC built this Attribution Builder as part of their involvement with Creative Commons in providing support for TAACCCT grantees.