The new Learning Registry should expand opportunities for researchers and educators alike.

A new federal resource will help groups share learning materials and policy recommendations as they strive to improve the quality and availability of learning resources in education.

Launched by the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense, the new “Learning Registry” is an open-source community that takes advantage of technology tools to help users share information about learning resources more effectively among a broad set of education stakeholders.

“Learning Registry addresses a real problem in education, by bridging the silos that prevent educators from sharing valuable information and resources,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a statement. “The Registry also allows content developers, curriculum coordinators, principals, counselors, and everyone else who supports good teaching in the classroom to benefit from the combined knowledge of the field.”

The project was made possible by a $2.6 million investment, with the Departments of Education and Defense each contributing $1.3 million to the effort.

Rather than creating an alternative destination to existing websites, Learning Registry is a communication system that allows existing educational portals and online systems to publish, consume, and share important information about learning resources with each other and the public, while respecting the privacy of individual users.

Basic information about resources—grade level, subject area, and author—can be shared through Learning Registry, as well as more complex data such as curricular standards alignment information. This platform for data sharing also allows user activities to be shared anonymously, such as the types of educators who find a specific resource particularly useful (elementary teachers, for example, or those focused on working with migrant students).

The Learning Registry community and technology are intended to create opportunities for future innovation in areas that are just now starting to be explored. The project is an open, community-supported activity—any organization or individual can contribute to or use the technology. The Learning Registry’s open-source license permits integration into other open education projects, and in commercial applications.

The Learning Registry website notes that users can visit the site to share metadata that describe learning resources; ratings, reviews, comments, and other annotation data; alignments to educational standards; usage information such as favoriting, foldering, remixing, embedding, and other social metadata/paradata; and resource updates, relationships between resources, and other assertions.

During the past year, the Learning Registry framework was designed, built, and tested as open-source software. More than a dozen organizations are active collaborators and have stepped up to be early contributors to the Learning Registry, and many others have expressed interest in contributing in the next few months.

Early adopters include the Library of Congress, the National Science Digital Library, PBS LearningMedia, and Smithsonian Education.

State and local governments involved in the project include the Florida Department of Education’s CPALMS project and the California Department of Education’s CTE Online and Brokers of Expertise projects, supported by the Butte County Office of Education/CADRE in California.

Some of the next steps for the Learning Registry are:

  • Publishers will share information about their education content in the registry.
  • Application developers will design tools for displaying and reporting on usage and social metadata.
  • Recommendation and search engines will leverage Learning Registry data for surfacing relevant learning resources.
  • LMS vendors, content aggregators, portals, and other platforms will create links to the Learning Registry to share data about content used within their environments: How it’s been used and how widely used it is, and so on.