Monday, August 16, 2010

The U.S. Education Learning Registry

This is an exciting news bit about where the future of U.S. Education is heading. Although it still isn't completely set up, the Learning Registry will definitely revolutionize classroom teaching in the future!

The Learning Registry is a project among a number of federal organizations including Department of Education, Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House and the Federal Communications Commission. The Learning Registry has been consulting with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at the Department of Commerce, the National Archives and Records Administration, the team, as well as both the Federal CIO and CTO. They've had preliminary conversations with NASA, the Smithsonian and the Department of Energy. They plan to engage with many other agencies and organizations in this work, both inside and outside of the federal government. In the initial phase, this project relates only to the learning resources managed by the federal government (and by learning resource, they've currently taking a broad view to include primary source, historical and culturally significant materials, as well resources designed specifically for educational use).

Let’s imagine you’re a high school physics teacher or the head of an online learning company. In either case you might want to build a course on the early years of the US space program in way that integrates history, writing and physics. You might want to use resources that are available from the federal government in this work. In searching for those resources, you learn that each agency has its own repositories (often many of them) and you have to search each site to find the materials. Even internet search engines are of limited (though still significant) help. Finding the right information stored at these different agencies requires significant web research expertise. At this point today you might give up your search because it will take too much of your time to find the resources you need.

The point of the Learning Registry to is make it much easier to find and access these federal assets. The benefits of finding resources stored in the federal government can be significant. In this case the Learning Registry would help you discover that NASA has numerous photographs of the missions and related information. The National Archives has the transcript of an historic phone call between Nixon and Armstrong, while Armstrong was on the moon. NOAA has a history on their weather program that supported the early rocket launches and landings. The point is that it shouldn’t be hard to find related learning resources around government, just like it shouldn’t be hard to find similar resources from around the internet. Open government and data access are important goals for the Department of Education, and this project is one of a number of open initiatives designed to make the information currently within the federal government more accessible. The Learning Registry will help to fulfill one of the mandates of the Open Government Directive to make information for education use available to students and teachers online and “clearly demarcate the public’s right to use, modify, and distribute the information.”

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