Repositioning NSDL for Next Generation

A dissemination site for progress and news on NSDL's grant from the National Science Foundation: Repositioning NSDL for the Next Generation of Digital Learning (DUE #1144560). Period of Performance:  October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2013.  

The National Science Foundation provided transitional funding for NSDL in Fall 2011, via a two-year grant to develop and expand key elements of recent NSDL work to additional cross-network partnerships, including Pathways and other NSDL partners, for long-term sustainability. 


Key work elements:


Transitioning NSDL technical infrastructure to UCAR

Technical infrastructure for NSDL resided at Cornell University from 2001-2011. Current Next Generation funding has enabled the transition of those systems to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), the institutional home of the NSDL program. This work was accomplished from October - November 2011. 

The NSDL technical operations team at UCAR continues de-bugging and documenting, assuring the stability of NSDL systems and services hosted on a combination of cloud-based Rackspace servers and UCAR servers.

Transitioning library collections

Collection building activities include building new and enhancing existing collections along these three parameters: 

  • Learning Application Readiness (LAR) collection building - implementing criteria, guidelines, and best practices for developing collections of resources and metadata cataloged to LAR metadata framework to programmatically disseminate NSDL metadata and usage data to multiple communities of practice via their platforms/portals/systems.

  • Alignment to education standards -  comprehensively growing the NSDL Math Common Core collection, developing a collection of STEM-relevant English Language Arts (ELA) Science & Technical Common Core standards-aligned resources, and preparing and adapting processes to address the Next Generation Science Standards, scheduled for release in Fall 2012.

  • Paradataimplementing the exchange of usage data about digital resources to/from NSDL and Pathways partners, and from NSDL to the Learning Registry project, and other partners

Redefining NSDL network effects 

  • NSDL STEM Exchange can be considered as the interchange mechanism for NSDL STEM content, data, and services to external efforts such as the Learning Registry and other partners, with potential to develop into an additional NSDL brand

  • Leverage the STEM Exchange pilot work from 2010-11 as a demonstrator for Learning Registry activity and partnerships
  • Continue work with Learning Registry primary partners (Dept. of Education, Dept. of Defense, and SRI) to assist other content and data partners in connecting to Registry technology, as well as resolving issues of paradata integration, analysis, and adoption barriers
  •  Further define how NSDL can serve the broad community of NSF grantees in contributing their metadata and paradata to Learning Registry via NSDL 

Pulling it all together: Creating a Production Network

In implementation, this work is resulting in the development of a scalable production network of STEM content and services to educator communities of practice via systems, portals, and platforms that they use, while still providing access to exemplary STEM resource collections and services to individual end users at

While the overall education scope of NSDL collections continues to be K16 and beyond, the production network grant work is focused on K12, since standards-alignment is a major component of the work. 

The partnered work takes place entirely in the first year of the grant: October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012. 


Project partners

Collection building and services partners on the NextGen project include:

These partners were selected based on the capacities of their existing and developing metadata and processes to support LAR collection building, standards-alignment, and paradata collection building, and their ability to rapidly collaborate in these areas for this effort. 

MSP2 and Internet Scout are providing services to support the collection development and contribution work of the other partners, and to assist NSDL in these ways:

  • MSP2 is developing guidance for the standards alignment process; conducting gap analysis on content and resource types for NSDL Math Common Core (MCC) collection; building subject hierarchy for applicable English Language Arts (ELA) Science & Technical Standards; identifying and aligning resources to MCC and ELA; and providing process support and documentation
  • Internet Scout is collaborating with NSDL and MSP2 on standards-aligned collection building and cataloging; conducting gap analysis of the overall NSDL collection to identify areas of need; conducting weeding activities as a curation practice over the NSDL collection; and contributing to developing processes and best practices for paradata exchange and monitoring between NSDL and Learning Registry networks.

Evaluation partners

Evaluation activities for the NextGen work are shared by: the Metiri Group -  conducting evaluation for the project on Math Common Core resources as they are disseminated through the broad NSDL production network. Valerie Williams, of UCAR, is conducting production network evaluation on the NextGen project.


Policies and Guidelines 

A revised Collection Policy for NSDL as well as helpful guidelines and rubrics for collection builders are a result of NextGen project: 

NSDL Collection Policy (Jan 1 2012)

NSDL Collection Development Blueprint (Jan 1 2012)

NSDL Resource Quality Checklist (Jan 1 2012)

NSDL Resource Metadata Rubric (Jan 1 2012)

NSDL Annotation Metadata Rubric (Jan 1 2012)

NSDL Paradata Metadata Rubric (Jan 1 2012)

NSDL Weeding Plan 2012 (v.1)  (Mar 2012)

These are also available from


Draft guidelines in development for Common Core collection building

The Middle School Portal team is working with NextGen partners to enhance and expand the NSDL Math Common Core collection, and to create an English Lanugage Arts for Science and Technology Standards collection. The following documents are emerging guidelines for these collection building efforts. 

Math Common Core Collection Development - Draft  (Apr 17 2012)

English Language Arts Common Core Collection Development - Draft (Apr 17 2012)


This site is an outcome of work supported by the National Science Foundation under the following grant awards:

  • #1144560 - Repositioning NSDL for the Next Generation of Digital Learning, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research; PI: Kaye Howe
  • #0840858 - Center for Sustaining Broader Impacts; University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, NSDL Resource Center; PI: Kaye Howe
  • #0840744 - NSDL Technical Network Services: A Cyberinfrastructure Platform for STEM Education; Cornell University, University of Colorado, University Corporation for Atmospheric Sciences, Digital Learning Sciences / Integrated Information Services; PI: Dean Krafft