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The Learning Registry: A Better Way to Share Lessons and Resources

How do you share lessons and resources with your colleagues? Do you email lessons back and forth? Or, maybe you share and access lessons and activities on a school server. Perhaps your district has made lessons available on a website or portal.

If so, are the resources searchable by standards? Are there ways for teachers to make comments to make suggestions or recommendations for improvement? Can other teachers in other districts and states share their lessons with yours?

These are the questions I'm thinking about as I listen to a presentation from Richard Culatta, Deputy Director at the US Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology. I'm representing the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards at a panel presentation for the National Association of State Boards of Education's (NASBE) Study Group for the Role of Technology in Schools and Communities.

Mr. Culatta is giving the first presentation before our panel, which is also represented by the American Association of School Administrators, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and School Improvement Network.

Mr. Culatta asks the audience, "Does your state share content alignment data via a Learning Registry?"

The question I and many others in the audience are thinking is, "Uh, what's a Learning Registry?"

According to the Learning Registry website:

The Learning Registry is a joint effort of the Department of Education and the Department of Defense, with support of the White House and numerous federal agencies, non-profit organizations, international organizations and private companies.
This effort, begun in 2010, is creating a set of technical protocols as a platform for innovation by content authors and aggregators. Applications built to harness the power of harvesting and analyzing the Learning Registry data will allow educators to quickly find content specific to their unique needs. The Learning Registry will store more than traditional descriptive data (metadata)--it will also allow sharing of ratings, comments, downloads, standards alignment, etc.
Importantly, the Learning Registry is not a specific destination, portal or engine that educators will "go to". Rather, it is an open technology framework to which any content creator can publish, and any technology vendor (e.g. learning management system, content aggregators, or application developers) can leverage for their applications.
The Learning Registry beta release has been developed by a team funded by the Department of Education and ADL: SRI International, Lockheed Martin, National Science Digital Library (NSDL), Navigation North, and Butte County Office of Education/CADRE.

So, any state or organization that designs their site using the technical protocols from the Learning Registry will be able to access and share resources nationwide with other sites that follow the same protocols.

Some organizations that are already using the Learning Registry protocols are the Library of Congress, PBS Learning Media, California Department of Education, and the Smithsonian.

As I listen to the details on how the registry works, I remember the hours I spent as a special education teacher modifying lessons and activities for my students. I also remember thinking that there should be a better way for special education teachers to share the resources they create.

After all, I was not the first teacher in the history of education to be teaching 7th grade Math, Science, and Social Studies in my district, certainly there had to have been other special education teachers who did this before me- those who had created similar materials to meet the needs of students with similar learning styles.

Why shouldn't I be able to access and adapt what they created, instead of re-inventing the wheel?

It appears that the Learning Registry is providing ways for educators and other stakeholders to create and share resources. The ability for teachers to rate and comment on resources has terrific potential for educators to improve on which resources work best for which students.

Hopefully, more teachers can contribute to this Registry as sites that use the Learning Registry protocols expand.

And as we discuss constructive ways in which government, businesses, and educators can better collaborate to improve student learning, perhaps it will be the development of these structures that will be the model for which respective expertise can work together to improve public education.

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