New Registry Identifies, Rates Online Learning Materials
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2011 With the growing popularity of online learning materials, how is one to know what’s available and whether it’s any good?
A new Learning Registry launched yesterday by the Department of Defense and Department of Education will help make it easier for students and educators alike to identify source materials tailored to their needs, Frank C. DiGiovanni, director of training readiness and strategy in the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Readiness, told American Forces Press Service.
But equally valuable, he said, will be user ratings about how effective those materials are.
“This is a place that educators and individuals can go to look at online learning content,” DiGiovanni said. “And what’s different about this particular registry is that it uses networking techniques to … populate it from authoritative sources and … to for people to be able to rate how good they think the content is.”
Unlike most traditional search engines that are limited by what particular crawlers they use and draw up long lists of information regardless of its usefulness, the new registry will help users pinpoint resources that meet their exact needs.
If, for example, someone wanted to find online classes in beginning French, the registry would not only provide an exhaustive list of sources, but also the top-rated offerings on that list.
“This is definitely an educator’s resource,” DiGiovanni said.
He also noted its value to the DOD training community and individual military members and DOD employees who frequently turn to web-based distance learning to replace or augment traditional education programs.
“When you look at the people we are accessing into the military, it’s a wired society, particularly in the younger generation,” he said. “By providing learning capabilities in a format that these young and men are used to, we really think we can target our learning capabilities in the Defense Department for that kind of audience.”
But the registry won’t be limited to federal government users. Anyone will be able to access it and take advantage of its services.
“The Learning Registry will serve as a center repository for learning content across the nation to become visible to the common user,” DiGiovanni said. “This is the nation’s resource.”
He described the version rolled out yesterday at a State Educational Technology Directors Association Leadership Summit here as a “beta capability” that will be improved on over time. “This is a very early prototype, and we are in the process of providing it to the user community for them to help us vet it, validate it and of course, mature it,” he said.
DOD, which has served as the federal government’s executive agent for online learning technologies since the late 1990s, will be the primary architect behind those improvements, in partnership with the Education Department.
“DOD was seen as a leader, and I think to this day remains a leader in really looking at groundbreaking technologies – not only for the Department of Defense, but for the entire country,” DiGiovanni said.