On Nov. 29, a group aimed at helping states share the powerful online educational tools that some are developing met for the first time.

All but one of the 14 states currently participating in the United States Open eLearning Consortium—Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, and South Carolina—had at least one representative present at the group’s first face-to-face meeting.

Participants from the U.S. Department of Education, the Consortium for School Networking, the Schools Interoperability Framework, and the Cisco Learning Institute also attended the event.

The Open eLearning Consortium is a coalition of states that intend to share public-owned design ideas and documents, application and database source code, and educational content for online learning systems and explore mutually advantageous federal and private funding options.

Participants said they hope their collaboration will extend to many aspects of online education, including assessment, technical standards, software features, administrative functions, and methods of cataloging information.

“I truly believe that we are starting something historic,” said Greg Nadeau, project director of the consortium. “Together we can create the conditions for eLearning to cross the chasm to pervasive adoption in a critical mass of states and create a standard eLearning platform for the planet.”

The group’s first project will be to oversee the design, development, and deployment of a Department of Education-funded, state-to-state test item exchange and online assessment system.