Lessons from the rise and fall of the federal Learning Registry

by John Watson

Nov 9, 2011

Departments of Education and Defense to Launch “Learning Registry” Tools and Community

“The U.S. Departments of Education and Defense announced last night the launch of ‘Learning Registry,’ an open source community and technology designed to improve the quality and availability of learning resources in education. The launch is an important milestone in the effort to more effectively share information about learning resources among a broad set of stakeholders in the education community.” 

“’Learning Registry addresses a real problem in education, by bridging the silos that prevent educators from sharing valuable information and resources,’ said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. ‘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…”

Jan 3, 2014

Federal 'Learning Registry' Aims to Connect Educators, Content Providers (Education Week)

“The Learning Registry is meant to offer something different. Its backers describe it as an online highway, or a network of roads designed to bring educators to the content they want.”

“More specifically, the tool developed by the U.S. Department of Education is an open communication or information network for delivering academic resources to educators and the public, set up to allow sharing of information among peers, sorted to meet individual teachers' and students' needs…”

“Whether the registry evolves into a prized tool for educators and others across the K-12 community, or one that fades into online obscurity, remains to be seen…” (emphasis added)

Nov 21, 2018

Ed. Dept. Pulls Plug on ‘Learning Registry’ (Education Week)

 “The U.S. Department of Education has ended its support for the Learning Registry, which was designed to serve as a cutting-edge information-sharing network but is going away because of what the agency said are its ‘rapidly aging technologies’ that do not mesh with other systems.”

“Steven Midgley, a former senior adviser at the U.S. Department of Education who worked on the project…said he believes the metadata–basically, data that describes all that is housed in the registry–will be of ‘potential great use’ to ed-tech companies and to researchers, though he wishes people were more aware of it.” (Emphasis added)

Lessons learned

1. Now we know the answer to the 2014 Ed Week question about whether the registry would become a “prized tool” or “fade into obscurity.”

2. $2.6 million may sound like quite a bit, but it won’t take many national projects very far. By comparison, Chicago Public Schools spends $2.6m about every five hours. That’s not to say small projects can’t have an impact, but they must be highly targeted to be successful.

3. Open educational resources, repositories, and other government-funded projects rarely take into account the need for large-scale marketing and communications efforts to drive usage of these resources. The Learning Registry appears to fit this pattern of expecting that “if we build it, they will come.”

So far, we have heard of nobody lamenting the loss of the Learning Registry. We will update this post if we do.

B-1-30, Blog PostJohn Watson