MADISON — The defense appropriations bill that President Bush has signed into law includes $1 million for a Wisconsin initiative designed to help colleges and universities nationwide better share learning materials electronically.
Headed by the University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Technical College System, the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Co-Laboratory serves as the focal point for the nation’s colleges and universities in promoting high-quality content for distributed learning that can be shared and used across systems.
Following congressional approval last week, President Bush signed the defense spending bill into law Wednesday (Oct. 23).
“The ADL initiative takes advantage of Wisconsin’s national reputation in education and cements our position as a leader in one of the fastest growing sectors of the new economy-technology-based training and education,” said UW System President Katharine C. Lyall.
“Providing $1 million in federal funding to the Academic ADL Co-Lab gives both the UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System the unique opportunity to be major players in this highly competitive, ever-evolving world of distributed learning,” added Richard Carpenter, president/state director of the Wisconsin Technical College System.
The ADL Co-Lab, established in 2000 by the U.S. Department of Defense, is part of a global initiative to create a standardized system to store, deliver and access online learning materials.
Based in Madison, it is one of only three such co-labs in the country and the only one focused on higher education. The other two co-labs, in Alexandria, Va., and Orlando, Fla., support the federal government and the military.
The Wisconsin Academic ADL Co-Lab is working on a global directory of learning materials and working to ensure those materials are easily shared. More than 40 partnership agreements have been signed with the Co-Lab representing 500 colleges and universities.
As it works to create a universal online library, the Co-Lab tests standards for sharing resources, trains educators about the system it is developing and evaluates how effective the program is when applied to education.
Lyall said securing funding for the Co-Lab was a top priority of the UW System’s effort to increase the amount of federal funds returned to Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Co-Lab also brings in resources from the academic and private sectors, making it a fruitful economic venture for the state, Carpenter added.
Lyall and Carpenter thanked the Wisconsin congressional delegation for its support and added that U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., and U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, were particularly instrumental in securing the Co-Lab funding.
“I am pleased that Wisconsin is part of this world-class learning Co-Lab and will have a prominent role in supporting national research and assessment of learning effectiveness,” said Kohl, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“I am delighted that I was able to help secure funding for the Co-Lab program,” added Baldwin, who represents the congressional district that houses the Co-Lab. “This project will be a great benefit to society and ensure that American institutions of higher learning will continue to lead the world in educational opportunity and research.”
In addition to the $1 million from the defense appropriations bill, the Co-Lab recently received a three-year grant totaling $517,565 from the U.S. Department of Education to improve learning within and reduce the costs of online education. UW-Extension will administer the federal grant for the Co-Lab.
To learn more about the Wisconsin Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Laboratory, visit http://www.academiccolab.org/.