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Did you know the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and Department of Defense (DOD) are sharing learning resources online? is the entry point for more information about this project, which began in 2010.

Led by the DOE's Office of Educational Technology and the DOD's Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative, the collaboration involves multiple federal offices, non-profits, and private sector companies, all working together in "a new approach to capturing, sharing, and analyzing learning resource data to broaden the usefulness of digital content to benefit educators and learners."

Steve Midgley, Deputy Director of the Office of Educational Technology, introduced the project as more than just a collection of materials. It's an infrastructure that allows for improved networks among librarians, educators, patrons, and learners. Through the use of an established set of development standards and technology protocols, contributors make it easier for others using compatible systems to put their resources to use. Midgley also described how the Learning Registry allows, for example, 33 physics teachers connecting through a PBS community to integrate a NASA video into their instruction with students.

As an online educator, there are many different ways you can participate in the Learning Registry: as a user, contributor, and community member.

Use and Share, Find and Amplify

Context is one of the most difficult aspects of open education resources (OER). While countless OER repositories exist, finding the exact element you need for your course and your students, for use in their learning environment, can be challenging to say the least. And creating your own learning objects can be time consuming and costly.

The Learning Repository Browser offers a more detailed way to search for relevant lessons and materials. Search by keyword, subject area, or author to explore resources that have been made available by other educators and learning organizations. Be sure to read the helpful instructions provided for more about how this tool works and the ways you can search. Here are just a few examples of what's currently available:

  • Library of Congress: more than 300 entries including digital images, recordings, and documents.
  • PBS LearningMedia: in addition to content elements (e.g., videos, lesson plans, discussion questions), PBS also helps to collect materials from a variety of organizations, such as the National Science Digital Library, and categorizes the materials by grade level.
  • Smithsonian Education: more than 1500 contributions, which include lesson plans and interactive activities from the "central education website of the Smithsonian Institution."

You can also share your materials, lesson plans, and activities with your peers via the Learning Registry. A post on EdWeek Teacher earlier this year introduced the system to educators and encouraged participation as an easier way to not only learn from others, but also contribute what you've learned – a resource that helps educators build upon what's already been done "instead of re-inventing the wheel." For more details about developing materials with the Learning Registry standards, take a look at the Developer's Quick Reference Guide and Wiki.

The Learning Registry project is also interested in collecting and analyzing data in ways that will ultimately improve this approach to sharing and the way that shared materials are applied. Examining how different users implement the available resources, and the success they find with their students, will be an important part of the exploration moving forward. Educators working with the contributed materials can also add their ratings, reviews, and comments.

Connect with the Community

In addition to the resources already described, the Learning Registry serves as a communication platform. There are three active discussion areas accessible from the project's main page: a collaborative forum, general announcements, and a developers' list. The public is also invited to attend scheduled events and weekly conference calls. Get updates and make connections on Twitter by following @learningreg and using the hashtag #learningreg.

Just two years old, Learning Registry is still relatively new and growing in terms of community and resources. What could you and your students learn from participating educators and organizations? What could you contribute from your own experience as an online instructor?

Image credit: stock.xchng