Online-Education Consortium Created for States

By Andrew Trotter — November 07, 2001 3 min read

To help states share the powerful online educational tools that some are developing, 14 states have joined together to form the U.S. Open e-Learning Consortium.

Participants expressed hope that their collaboration will extend to many aspects of online education, including assessment, technical standards, software features, administrative functions, and methods of cataloging information.

“Any time you can get multiple states together and parlay their expertise and experience to create new opportunities educationally, that’s advantageous,” said Philip E. Geiger, the executive director of the Arizona School Facilities Board, which oversees a statewide online education project.

In addition to Arizona, the states in the consortium are Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Carolina.

Good Things to Share

The group’s first project will be creating a model of an online system that lets states share with students and teachers test questions that are linked to state standards. States would approve what test questions could be released, said Greg Nadeau, the director of the consortium, which is run by the Northwest Educational Technology Consortium in Portland, Ore.

With such a system, Mr. Nadeau said, test questions written in Massachusetts for high school mathematics, for instance, could be used by students and teachers in Hawaii as practice questions—and vice versa.

Luring state officials to the project is the potential for quickly adopting online delivery systems crafted by at least a half-dozen states, Mr. Nadeau said.

Massachusetts, for instance, has a statewide system of online resources for districts, schools, teachers, and students, called the Virtual Education Space, which Mr. Nadeau helped design in his previous job as chief technology officer for the Massachusetts Department of Education. VES includes collections of learning resources and specialized “workspaces” on the Web that allow users to keep calendars, present information, and communicate with one another.

In October, VES added a Web site that provides a round-the-clock tutorial for 11th graders preparing for the December retake of the state’s math and English assessment.

In Arizona, state education officials have created a “Students First” online service. The state has contracted with technology companies to deliver a free collection of 252 educational and business software titles to every student and teacher in the state who has a home or school computer, Mr. Geiger said.

School districts may buy online access to an additional 7,000 software applications at a state-negotiated price, he added. The system, expected to reach every Arizona school by next spring, allows users to store data online for up to 13 years.

Digital Confusion

Because of inconsistencies between those and other state systems, though, “none of these projects are easily transferable to other states,” Mr. Nadeau said.

One of the biggest problems is inconsistency in terminology.

“A digital support system” in one state is a “lesson plan exchange” in another, Mr. Nadeau said, joking that it’s similar to how “a hoagie in New Jersey is a steak-and-cheese in Philly and a submarine in Boston.”

In other cases, states need to adopt the same technical standards for certain elements of their networks, such as the way they transfer records from one system to another.

Some participants cautioned that a consortium like this one, without secure funding and engaged in an exploratory project, may not last for long if it does not win new support.

But they said the basic idea is sound.

Arthur D. Sheekey, the coordinator for learning technologies at the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers, which is participating in the project, said the consortium was “a new and risky venture that may fail.”

But ultimately, he said, it appears to provide a map for other states to follow.

“Once the states have their [online] infrastructure in place, they’re going to need to develop these kind of collaborative relationships,” he said.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the November 07, 2001 edition of Education Week as Online-Education Consortium Created for States


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Educator-Driven EdTech Design: Help Shape the Future of Classroom Technology
Join us for a collaborative workshop where you will get a live demo of GoGuardian Teacher, including seamless new integrations with Google Classroom, and participate in an interactive design exercise building a feature based on
Content provided by GoGuardian
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online
School & District Management Webinar What's Ahead for Hybrid Learning: Putting Best Practices in Motion
It’s safe to say hybrid learning—a mix of in-person and remote instruction that evolved quickly during the pandemic—is probably here to stay in K-12 education to some extent. That is the case even though increasing

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

States Two More States Pass Restrictions on Transgender Students. Will Others Follow?
States have considered dozens of bills on the rights of transgender students. They cover everything from sports to pronouns used in schools.
4 min read
Advocates for transgender people march from the South Dakota governor's mansion to the Capitol in Pierre, S.D., on March 11, 2021, to protest a proposed ban on transgender girls and women from female sports leagues.
Advocates for transgender people march from the South Dakota governor's mansion to the Capitol in Pierre to protest a proposed ban on transgender girls and women from female sports leagues.
Stephen Groves/AP
States Vaccine Access Speeds Up for Teachers After Biden's Declaration
The vaccine landscape for teachers shifted dramatically after President Joe Biden directed states to prioritize the K-12 workforce.
7 min read
030321 Vaccine Breaking AP BS
The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is held by a pharmacist at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut on March.
Jessica Hill
States Opinion How Jeb Bush’s ExcelinEd Is Tackling the Next 5 Years
Rick Hess talks with ExcelinEd CEO Patricia Levesque about the organization's goals to improve education after the pandemic and beyond.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
States Governors, State Lawmakers: Schools Should Reopen for In-Person Learning
After months of leaving the decision up to districts, state leaders are taking a more direct role in getting students back in classrooms.
10 min read
Students at Louisa County High School in Mineral, Va., sit behind plexiglass dividers to promote social distancing.
Students at Louisa County High School in Mineral, Va., sit behind Plexiglas dividers. Virginia lawmakers are considering a bill that would require all school districts to offer in-person instruction with COVID-19 precautions.
Erin Edgerton/The Daily Progress via AP