Teaching & Learning | News
Federal Site for Free Education Resources Grows and Gets Mobile Facelift
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A site for accessing freely available education materials from public agencies has just been revamped for the third time in its lengthy history to include a cleaner interface and many more listings. The Federal Registry for Educational Excellence (FREE) helps educators, students, and others find digital teaching and learning resources maintained by the federal government. The latest version, released in beta form, also includes listings of free materials from private organizations.
The catalog uses the Learning Registry, an open repository of data about digital learning objects on the Internet developed by the United States Department of Education. Using the platform, the new edition of FREE has collected 200,000 resources from federal agencies and public and private organizations. Currently, it includes 2028 items for the arts and music, 896 for language arts, 4,298 for math, 62,262 for science, 11,587 for U.S. history, and others.
Users can browse by subject or by standard. The standards included at launch covered Common Core math as well as geography and science.
The new site also incorporates coding changes that make it accessible by mobile devices.
The former version of the site is still available during the beta period at free1.ed.gov/index.cfm.
FREE was introduced in 1998 under the direction of former President Bill Clinton. The last redesign was done in 2006. The 66 contributing agencies include the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of State, the National Gallery of Art, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.
In a blog entry about the beta launch, Department of Ed Web Director Jill James wrote that future enhancements may include the ability to allow users "to rate, tag, and comment on specific resources," save favorites for future reference, and allow them to share content on social media sites.
ED is seeking feedback on the site at its e-mail address, FREE@ed.gov, and on Twitter @FreeResources.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.