Education is moving into the second decade of the 21st century looking very much as it did throughout the 20th century—a localized effort. But society has changed, becoming more mobile, more global. With the emergence of the Semantic Web comes the ability to connect education systems globally that until recently only served populations associated with a particular physical location. Just as the interstate highway system in the United States was designed to both facilitate future interstate commerce across a network of federated jurisdictions as well as to support the immediate strategic goals of the day, so should we develop education systems to support both our immediate educational goals and the future needs of a populace that must continuously learn in order to stay competitive in a continuously changing world.
Building on the accomplishments of Semantic Web developers over the last decade, JES & Co. organized the Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC), a public/private collaboration which addresses one of the top issues of this century, education (the other being health care which is following suit). The GLRC is comprised of education systems connected by simple linked data—data that performs only two functions: (1) describe a learning resource, and (2) relate that resource to other Semantic Web-enabled data. In its early form, the GLRC is focusing on connecting the dots in and between learning systems in the United States, Australia, Asia and Europe using Semantic Web technologies to share learning resources for UNESCO Levels 1-3—pre-primary through upper-secondary.
When the GLRC is fully deployed, educational resources will be shared by teachers, parents, students and the general public; resources discovered across oceans and continents using a simple non-proprietary format called the Resource Description Framework (RDF), the linked data structure of the Semantic Web. “In summary, Linked Data is simply about using the Web to create typed links between data from different sources. These may be as diverse as databases maintained by two organisations in different geographical locations, or simply heterogeneous systems within one organisation that, historically, have not easily interoperated at the data level.”1
The GLRC is collaboration between countries, jurisdictions, and learning domains. Its success is driven by research, local adaptation, commercial investment and stakeholder involvement and adoption. The GLRC is all inclusive, from the smallest content provider to the grandest of education learning systems providers.
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association of School Librarians
Center for Natural language Processing
Education Services Australia
IMS Global Learning Consortium
Library of Congress
National Education Association (NEA)
National Science Foundation
U.S. Department of Education