Perhaps nobody told you, but over 1.35 million objects from the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, 9 major research centers, and the national zoo have been recently released and combined with custom tools to support rich, digital learning around the globe using the largest treasure trove of historical assets in the world.
Somewhere between 9 and 10am EST on a chilly Thursday morning late in October, a year of work culminated with the activation of a new domain. You might not have felt it, but the Smithsonian quietly released the single largest worldwide collection of OER by any one agency in the history of digital resource publishing. And the fun’s just begun.
Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. After a year of planning and design headed up by the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (SCLDA) with technical design and development led by Navigation North Learning, the Smithsonian Learning Lab was launched.
Three weeks beyond a very hushed “soft-launch”, SCLDA already finds itself managing nearly a 1,000 sessions a day and has over 600 registered users. Amazingly, over 700 private Learning Collections have been created, with over 100 of them now published by teams of Smithsonian educators and various classroom teachers from across the country. With the big, official “PR” launch still months away, many already seem to be finding their way to this new environment. Teachers do talk after all. And it’s no wonder; we worked with SCLDA for two years conducting research with hundreds of top educators and classrooms across the country to design a system where otherwise passive purveyors would now have the freedom to peruse and select their own artifacts and create custom collections focused on specific topics, or designed to teach a certain concept, or explore a given genre, or examine a selected historical era.
Where there was nothing a month ago, there are now fully digitized, engaging, learning experiences as assembled by local teachers, top researchers, and historian/educators alike using artifacts from the Smithsonian’s treasure trove of historical holdings and assets. We are very proud of the contributions we were able to make to the new Smithsonian Learning Lab and look forward to seeing people assemble their own collections, make usable copies of others’, browse through the world’s largest digital repository of materials, or focus on topics as diverse as:
With over a million useful resources available right now, and an aggressive digitization strategy in place targeting another 130 million more records (that is correct, 130 million), the Smithsonian is doing its part. And we’ve done ours as well. When a system blends vast resources with teachers’ immense creativity, learners need just bring their curiosity and a desire for the world’s most comprehensive, richest resources.
Welcome to your Smithsonian Learning Lab.
Sincerely, Navigation North