The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York are joining forces to fund an open-source technology network that would give teachers access to a huge repository of learning resources across state lines.
Such a network is now possible because of the Common Core State Standards, which replace the current patchwork of individual state standards with a set of common standards. The Common Core standards have been approved by more than 40 states and play a critical role in the development of a national exam, planned for 2014.
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The Gates Foundation said it has committed as much as $100 million to the development of the virtual teaching and learning network, although an actual dollar amount has not yet been released.
“Right now, states all have individual systems—some of them are older, some are newer with different capacities, and they’re not able to speak to each other,” said Debbie Robinson, chief communications officer for the Gates Foundation. In contrast, the new Gates-funded virtual network will be “an open-source system, so that any state or school district or contract developer could use [learning content] and tailor it to whatever their needs are. You’re not locked into having to do it a certain way, but you get the benefits of being able to share information across states [and] with other school districts.”
Illinois, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, and Massachusetts will be piloting the program, which should be available in fall 2012. The Council of Chief State School Officers chose the five states, according to foundation officials.
Once the network has been created, educators will be able to post content and download lesson plans or other learning resources that fit their classroom needs.