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Meeting of the Board of Regents | April 2003

Tuesday, April 1, 2003 - 7:30am




The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents


James A. Kadamus


Elementary, Middle, Secondary and Continuing Education


Status Report on the New York State Virtual Learning Space


March 31, 2003




Update on key initiative related to building local capacity


Goals, 1, 2 and 4



The attached report provides an update on the development of the New York State Virtual Learning Space.




Status Report on the New York State Virtual Learning Space

 Through the New York State Virtual Learning Space (NYSVLS), NYSED-defined learning standards, teacher resources and other curricular and instructional material will be available to administrators, teachers, teacher candidates, parents, students and the public:

  • Learning standards in each of the seven standard areas

  • Performance indicators for each standard area at all levels of education, K-12

  • State resource guides with core curricula, where available

  • State assessments

  • Learning experiences tied to the performance indicators

  • Instructional and curricular resources developed by districts and BOCES

  • Library, archive and museum resources

  • Technical assistance on the use of NYSVLS

Though we expect that NYSVLS will be useful to many audiences, our initial target audience is teachers. NYSVLS will be database driven and searchable. Information will be accessible from many entry points and by using many navigation paths. The cornerstone of NYSVLS is the NYS learning standards. By creating a database, tagging content using consistent terminology, and tying instructional resources to the appropriate standards and performance indicators, we will make this information dynamic and useful for teachers.

We will also be providing the standards and associated information as a web service to other organizations, thus making it possible for all who wish to provide standards-based resources online to work from the same foundation of information. Over time, we will use the structures and procedures that we are putting in place in Phase I to populate the site with an increasing number of quality-assured resources.

In October 2002, we presented a report on the status of the New York State Virtual Learning Space. This report will update you on our progress to date in implementing Phase I and our plans for the future.

  • In January, we provided links from the USNY homepage to sites across the State that have developed resources for teachers and students, as well as to resources from the State Museum, State Library, State Archives and Public Broadcasting, with a feedback mechanism provided to solicit user comments. These links can be viewed at

  • The web designers, in consultation with Department staff, have developed a system architecture and prototype of the virtual learning space. We will be sharing this prototype with representatives of a number of statewide groups and their input will be reflected in the final design.

  • The web designers and Department staff are working together to develop a content workflow process that we will use to add new content to the NYSVLS database, including all necessary quality assurance steps.

  • We will be including material from the Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM) in Phase I of NYSVLS. The Gateway to Educational Materials is a consortium effort, operated out of Syracuse University, to provide educators with quick and easy access to thousands of educational resources found on various federal, State, university, non-profit, and commercial Internet sites.

  • Inclusion of GEM on NYSVLS will allow New York State teachers to have access to over 27,000 resources. Searches done on NYSVLS will yield both NYSED and GEM resources, with a plan under way to link the GEM tagging scheme to New York State standards, making the resources even more meaningful for New York teachers. We intend to label SED-developed or -endorsed resources as such.

  • We have begun to work with networks across the State, beginning with the Staff and Curriculum Development Network, to develop an implementation plan. This plan, to be developed by a work group with broad representation, will focus on marketing NYSVLS to teachers and providing teachers with the professional development they need to make the best use of this resource. This will require the cooperation of trainers and technical experts in many places; this is not a job SED can do alone. Two additional broad-based work groups, technology and content, are being formed to address technical issues and the growth and maintenance of NYSVLS respectively.

  • The resources available on NYSVLS will be integral to the work of such technical assistance networks as the Regional School Support Center Network. They will be used in face-to-face technical assistance with high need districts, but will be available for all districts.

  • Phase I of NYSVLS is scheduled for release in June 2003. This initial release will contain SED content in database format, with links to other educational resources and USNY information. We will then allow some time for user review and input, which will inform our design for Phase II. It is anticipated that this phase will:
  • Build on technical standards agreed on in Phase I and define additional requirements;
  • Include the development of policies and tools for user authentication, an early step toward allowing each user to personalize his/her view of NYSVLS, focusing on the areas of most interest to that user;
  • Include the design and implementation of a quality assurance/endorsement process for content, to ensure consistency with NYS learning standards and assessments;
  • Establish a "Call for Content" to meet the needs of teachers based on SED analysis and teacher input, in critical academic areas; and
  • Expand technical assistance beyond teachers and administrators.


The New York State Virtual Learning Space can become a source of educational resources tied to New York State's learning standards for teachers, students and parents across the State. Already thousands of such resources exist, but finding them can be a challenging and time-consuming task for busy teachers. Phase I will establish the foundation upon which we'll continue to build. We will continue to integrate new and existing content over time, following a timeline informed by the needs of our users. This is a large and complex task, requiring the contributions and collaboration of a great many people across New York State, and it will not be easy. Given the needs of districts and schools and our limited resources, it will be the primary tool to provide assistance to a great many teachers.