Preparing Teachers & Students for Online Learning

In response to the recent developments due to the coronavirus, SkillsCommons and MERLOT have created this FREE online resource to help both Teachers and Students prepare to start teaching and learning online.

Note: We Can Host a Customizable Version of this Website for Your Institution for FREE.  
Download Instructions Here: How-To-Request-and-Customize-this-Site.pdf Questions: support@skillscommons.orgThis website has been updated April 2, 2020.  If you would like multi-page version of this website to customize, click here.

Free Teaching and Learning Online Materials 

Teachers - Teaching Online

Teaching Online

Download the Chronicle of Higher Education's free collection of advice guides and opinion pieces on online learning. You'll get the insight and analysis needed to make the adjustment to teaching a full roster of courses online.

FREE online mini-courses to help you learn the basics for teaching online 

Here are two courses developed by higher ed for higher ed funded by federal grants. You can download the course files or take the course "in the cloud".

  1. Designing and Teaching Online course has six (6) easy-to-review modules to cover the basics created by Tyler Junior College.
  2. Introduction to Distance Education course has five (5) easy-to-review modules created by the Kenai Peninsula College and the University of Alaska Anchorage. Includes FLASH videos so Internet Explorer browser works and Chrome browser might have problems.

Virtual Labs for Online Courses

MERLOT Virtual Labs Portal:  MERLOT has created a collection of free and open virtual labs across a variety of STEM disciplines that can be very effective in supporting online instruction for laboratory courses. 

Virtual Labs Teaching ePortfolios:  The Virtual Labs portal also provides a collection of teaching ePortfolios by faculty implementing virtual labs and research on the effectiveness of using virtual labs. 

MERLOT non-STEM Collection of Simulations:  MERLOT also has collections of simulations that can support laboratory-like experiences in non-STEM disciplines:

Looking for Online Course Content?  

MERLOT is your free and open library of free and open course content across all academic disciplines. In addition to its over 90,000 materials, it also simultaneously searches over 70 other free and open libraries as well as a dynamic, education-aligned searching of the web.

SkillsCommons is your free and open library of free and open workforce development and training resources funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. It is a national repository of workforce OER that supported over 700 community colleges creating enhancements and innovations in their workforce curriculum that is now OER available to you.

Career and Technical Education Showcase:
Explore the collection of Free online course curriculum organized by Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes, highlighted health care and facilities management resources to support responses to COVID19, and complete online certificate programs in various industry sectors.

Free Services for Online Education in Response to COVID19

Online Learning Consortium 

The OLC has responded to the many needs of institutions for professional development and instructional design support in order to quickly move face-to-face classes online.  Learn more about the free resources and shared expertise the OLC has to offer your institution and faculty.

The Quality Matters Emergency Remote Instruction (ERI) Checklist is a tiered list of considerations, tips, and actionable strategies to enact during an institutional move to temporary remote instruction of classroom-based courses.

USDLA is providing free webinars and updates to help institution and organizations respond to the COVID19 pandemic migrate to effective and efficient distance learning.

As higher education leaders rapidly plan for migrating education online, they can benefit from using UPCEA's free Hallmarks for Excellence in Online Leadership.   The seven (7) principles provide practical, expert advice to educational leaders facing the challenges of scaling and sustaining quality online education within their institution.

WCET provides free resources for institutions to address issues that arise due to the outbreak. The resources include: Promising Practices Showcase, Instruction and Teaching with Technology
Resources, Assessment and Evaluation, Student Services
Resources, Technology and Infrastructure, Policy and Regulations, Institutional Preparedness and updates on COVID19.


EDUCAUSE is providing a free resource page to help higher education institutions plan for campus disruptions by COVID-19. 

The American Association for Community Colleges (AACC) is providing a free resource page to help higher education institutions plan for campus disruptions by COVID-19. 

SkillsCommons NewsStand:

Keep up to date with a collection of social media feeds from a variety of organizations and government agencies providing online education support services in response to COVID19.

Free Commercial Technology in Response to COVID19

Leading learning experience (LX) design firm, O’Donnell Learn offers a free and open LX Design Center to help faculty engage students as they go virtual.  Includes: Going Virtual videos, faculty access to real time chats with our expert LX designers, and practical how-tos for you to use right now. All resources available for download to your institution’s support site. Learn more ...


TechSmith is helping organizations and academic institutions who are preparing for prolonged absences and/or campus closures due to COVID-19. TechSmith is offering free access and expanded usage of tools that help enable business and educational continuity through June 30, 2020 to any organization that needs it.   Learn more....


Intellectus is a single sign-on, web-based, statistics platform designed to support learning and performing statistical analyses online.   The platform enables faculty to quickly and successfully transition from their face-to-face mode to online delivery of their course.  Intellectus is offering it's platform for free to all faculty, staff, and students through the end of the semester (June 30, 2020)   Contact Intellectus and they will get you set up and ready to teach online with the personal support so you can succeed.


SoftChalk provides a premier online lesson creation and student interaction tool.  SoftChalk is offering free access to SoftChalk Cloud from now through May 31, 2020 to anyone who may need it to quickly and easily create online lessons and course materials for delivery to students.  How To Quickly Get Started With SoftChalk?  Go here to open your free account.  Get started by reviewing our Video Tutorials.  Their Support Team is ready to provide assistance as needed.

Quottly is offering a free "Course Discovery and Course Sharing" platform to colleges and universities.  The platform makes it easy for students to find online courses, and open course sections, across a college or university system or consortium.  Using the platform, colleges and universities can complement their online course inventory with online courses offered by other institutions to better enable their students to stay on track to graduate, even with the disruption created by the coronavirus pandemic.  For more information, contact

LSI is offering free use of their NetTutor® online tutoring platform (Pisces®) to put campus staff online and their online math homework/quizzing tool (Sofia™) through the spring to all schools, colleges, and universities (training, integration, and tech support included). Pisces includes scheduled or drop-in sessions, referrals, live 1:1 with queuing, live groups, asynchronous question or paper drop-off, audio, video, screen sharing, and a drawing canvas with subject-specific tools. Pisces can be used for online tutoring, classes, office hours, Supplemental Instruction, student study groups, private coaching or counseling, group workshops, and more. Sofia includes math content from basic math, through high school math, and College Algebra, plus Calc I and Elementary Stats. Send email to the LSI Partner Success team to get started.

Odigia is offering free access to their ready-to-go courseware that provides an engaging, online course experience that has been proven to help students succeed for campuses that are in immediate need.  Odigia provides simplified analytics to measure student performance while pinpointing learning gaps to improve retention and success.  Learn more....


Adobe is offering greater access to Adobe Creative Cloud desktop apps to facilitate distance learning.    Learn more about the Adobe services that are now available for free.


Flipgrid is a free, simple way to foster short video-based discussions on classroom topics. Educators, learners, and families can use Flipgrid at school or at home to stay connected and share their continued learning experiences.  Learn more.

Students - Learning Online

Learning Online

Your students need to be prepared to learn online. You can provide them self-assessments about their readiness to learn online and easy-to-use tutorials to learn the skills they need to be successful in online learning

  1. Self Assessments on Readiness for Online Learning: Explore a collection of these self-assessment organized within MERLOT and choose ones that are right for your students.
  2. Diagnostic Assessment and Achievement of College Skills includes assessment of self-regulatory skills that are essential for online learning.  Learn more about DAACS...
  3. Tutorial for Online Learning: The California Community College's Online Education Initiative created eleven (11) modules and 4 interactive tools to help students learn skills and plan for being a successful online student.

Competency-Based Tutorial for College Skills including Online Learning

College Skills and Online Learning

MERLOT, SkillsCommons, and Gooru have created a self-paced, competency-based tutorial that faculty can add to their course as a supplemental learning activity. 

The tutorial is like “Google Maps for Learning”; after a diagnostic to assess the learner’s current knowledge, the Navigated Learning tutorial delivers a pathway of learning resources and assessments to the learner’s destination. The knowledge domains of College Skills includes guidelines for seeking advice, engaging with faculty, time management, and more as well as how to be a successful online learner. The tutorial provides the faculty a dashboard on every learners’ progress in attaining the various competencies.

Let Students Find & Share Online Learning Resources

MERLOT and SkillsCommons are free and open online libraries for everyone to use, including students! 

Students can find and share online learning resources that work for them. Over 50,000 students from around the world are MERLOT members (it’s free to join) and have used it to support their own online learning. Students can create their own personal collections of learning resources and easily share them with you and their fellow students. Providing your students an assignment to explore MERLOT and SkillsCommons and share the online resources they find most valuable helps them learn (and develop ICT literacy skills) and reduces faculty workload in finding the “good stuff” on the web.

When you adopt any of these activities, you would be practicing “Open pedagogy -the practice of engaging with students as creators of information rather than simply consumers of it" (ref).

Supporting Mentoring and  Apprenticeships Online  

Face-to-face learning is essential for learners in apprenticeship programs and mentors face-to-face teaching is essential for successful learning. There are many ways that online learning and teaching can augment and complement work-based learning. SkillsCommons has organized a wealth of resources that can help you integrate online teaching and learning within work-based teaching and learning. 

Remember Accessibility Requirements For All Students Learning

Reminder: Accessibility for Students

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education released today a webinar on ensuring web accessibility for students with disabilities for schools utilizing online learning during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In addition, OCR published a fact sheet for education leaders on how to protect students' civil rights as school leaders take steps to keep students safe and secure. These resources will assist education leaders in making distance learning accessible to students with disabilities and in preventing discrimination during this Administration-wide response effort.

The National Federation of the Blind has also provided  guidance about responses to COVID-19 and not creating accessibility barriers for everyone learning.


CAST is a nationally recognized organization that is helping K-12, higher ed, organizations and others move learning to online and at-home settings using best practices in accessible educational materials (AEM) and Universal Design for Learning.  CAST's UDL on Campus website provides a wealth of resources for higher education's efforts for accessible and UDL instruction.

Student Leaders Becoming OER Advocates

BCcampus Open Education has published guide for your student leaders to support your campus' OER - Affordable Learning program. The downloadable guide, OER Student Toolkit, is an excellent means to help your student leaders help your students and faculty adopt OER as they move to online learning.