Our Story

Inspark OER develops open educational resources that foster essential workforce skills as part of a $3.4M funded program by the U.S. Department of Education. The development team includes Arizona State University's Center for Education Through Exploration (ETX), the Inspark Teaching Network, and three community college partners: Maricopa Community Colleges, Ivy Tech Community College, and Miami Dade College.

Through these partnerships, Inspark OER has curated OER for specific subjects and developed LMS tools that build essential skills through active and project-based learning applications. Inspark OER + tools offer a low-cost alternative to expensive student course materials. Instructors from any discipline can choose to use our course packages as is, or adapt them to suit their needs. If you’re interested, access our demos, or choose a tool or discipline to explore more!

Essential Skills

What are Essential Skills?

Essential skills are the skills needed for personal, academic, and vocational success. Essential skills can be abstract, like reasoning and visualization, or concrete like basic math and communication. Although the exact names for these skills vary, the list we’ve compiled reflects a distillation of skills needed for success.

Why Focus on Essential Skills?

Targeted development of essential skills is often overshadowed by the need to cover disciplinary content. Therefore, instructors need innovative tools that can simultaneously teach disciplinary content and develop and practice essential skills.

Which Essential Skills?

In selecting our target skills, we focused on the following:

  • Skills highlighted as important by instructors and prospective employers
  • Skills so foundational that proficiency is needed to surmount barriers
  • Domain-generic skills applicable across courses and workplaces
  • Skills that can be effectively developed and refined in digital, asynchronous settings

Considering these four criteria, we focused on the following essential skills from the Dept of Ed Employability Skills Framework:

Applied Knowledge

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Numeracy
  • Reasoning
  • Visualization
  • Creativity/Innovation

Workforce Skills

  • Technology Proficiency
  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Critique

Effective Relationships

  • Responsibility
  • Cultural Awareness