As Web publishing and collaboration tools have become less expensive and easier to use over the past 5 years, more and more groups of teachers and learners have been able to take their communities of practice online and collaborate with partners anywhere around the world.
While the collective knowledge contained within those online communities has grown, however, the ability to share that knowledge has been limited to keyword searches that don’t necessarily surface what you want to know unless you already know what you’re looking for.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Defense, with support of the White House and numerous federal agencies, non-profit organizations, international organizations and private companies, began to develop an infrastructure that would help countless learning communities — governmental, public, and private — share their online resources.
The Learning Registry, now moving into production, is not a repository of resources but, instead, is a distributed registry of descriptive information, called metadata, as well as a way to share ratings, comments, downloads, standards alignment, and more.
Here’s a scenario:
A teacher sits down at her computer or mobile device to look for compelling educational content that will help her teach the U.S. Bill of Rights to her 11th grade general education class.
She starts with one of the major search engines, but the volume of results will take too long to sort through and assess their relevant educational value.
How can she know what works? What will engage her students struggling with the concepts as already presented? What will help her transfer student who is just learning English?
She would like to draw upon the wisdom of other teachers who have tried and adapted a variety of learning materials with students that are like hers… but how?
She connects to online community of educators who share ideas about teaching with original texts of historic documents.
With a couple of key strokes, she calls up a list of choices, targeted to her specific students’ needs and leveled to her state’s standards.
She sorts the list by ratings and finds half a dozen five-star lessons (as determined by hundreds of high school history teachers around the country), each with dozens of reviews, and even statistics as to how effective these lessons were, as measured by online quizzes given by teachers around the country.
In minutes, our teacher reviews five choices, picks the one that she senses will work best with her kids, downloads it and includes it in her lesson plan for the following week.
Importantly, her actions and anonymous profile (e.g. 11th grade teacher) will be captured automatically, so that that data adds to the growing collection of information about that specific educational element.
It is worth noting that the Learning Registry structure is distributed, in that numerous servers can run the software and exchange data, and that it was developed for use in both public private settings, and in any country.
The initiative has moved from vision to reality; U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra will formally announce the launch of the initiative at the U.S. State Educational Technology Directors Association’s Leadership Summit next Monday, November 7.
We’ll post the announcement video when it becomes available.
To learn more: