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OnCUE Archive - Special Insert, CLRN - 2001

CLRN's Value
to Educators

by Nancy Sullivan

May marks the launch of the CLRN Web site, a major new tool for
educators, designed to help them find the materials they need to
meet standards-based requirements and make savvy technology choices
to help them get the job done.

The Web site will be a tremendous value to educators. It offers
them the ability to find standards-aligned resources and sample
lessons that meet the needs of their individual classrooms. And
they can have full confidence that all learning resources posted
on the CLRN site meet State Content Standards.

Through this new site, CLRN will play a very significant role in
helping schools use technology to improve teaching and learning.
Having established its credibility with the Curriculum Commission
and the State Board, CLRN also worked with the producers of electronic
learning resources to develop the strong ties that are necessary
to help these producers understand the needs of California educators.

While saving educators time and money, it will ultimately result
in better resources for our students and teachers.

Nancy Sullivan is manager of the CDE's Education
Technology Office.

CLRN Spotlights Electronic Learning Resources

The California Learning Resource Network
Web site opens for business — a one-stop shop built on a strong

by Bridget Foster & Brian Bridges

Renee, a second-grade teacher, wants to improve her students' reading
scores using technology. She has five computers in her classroom
and Internet access. Her students have varying ability levels and
four are English Language Learners.

What she needs is software or Internet sources for second-grade
reading standards. And they need to be for students at or below
grade level for English Language Learners.

She goes to the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN) Web


In a standards-driven, performance-driven climate, how can educators
find good electronic learning resources to supplement current curriculum?
Where can a teacher find a software program, instructional video,
or Internet resource that address specific standards?

CLRN(pronounced "See Learn"), a Statewide Educational
Technology Service(SETS) of the California Department of Education,
launches its one-stop shop for supplemental electronic learning
resources this month. The site, <clrn.org>,provides educators
the critical information they need to select technology-based supplemental
resources aligned to the State Board of Education academic content
standards, and all resources are linked to model lesson plans utilizing

Solid Foundation

CLRN is built on a long history of providing educators with information
about supplemental electronic learning resources. The Stanislaus
County Office of Education, formerly the lead agency (LEA) for the
California Instructional Technology Clearinghouse, continues as
the LEA for CLRN. CLRN's partners — county offices at Humboldt,
Kern, Kings, San Diego and San Bernardino — recruit educators,
train them in the review process, and facilitate product reviews.
The Sacramento county office assists with resource reviews and with
Web site development.

Objective Criteria

The key to an objective product review is clear criteria—
a rarity — and ongoing training of content reviewers. CLRN's
resource reviews are all-encompassing and include software, Internet
resources and instructional video.

CLRN is the only service in the country that uses state-approved
criteria to review standards-aligned resources. Both the resource
review process and the training program for CLRN reviewers were
developed with the assistance of the Curriculum Development and
Supplemental Materials Commission and are aligned with their adoption
process. The State Board of Education formally approved the review
criteria last October.

CLRN works with more than 600 publishers of software, instructional
video and Internet Resources. And with its six partners, CLRN expects
to complete more than 1000 reviews each year. At the CLRN portal,
educators will have a variety of interactive search functions, including
the ability to train the site about their needs and give feedback
on reviews. No other service works with as many publishers, completes
as many reviews, or gives users as many opportunities to provide

Quality Control

This is critical to the success of any educational program. John
Cradler of Educational Support Systems (ESS), the program's external
evaluator, conducts systematic observations and collects user feedback
to continually improve the review process. " Without a credible
independent evaluation," says Cradler, "it is not possible
to have quality control." ESS also emphasizes immediate and
ongoing feedback so that program improvements can be made in a timely

CLRN will be user-driven, making sure the standards set are upheld,
and that it consistently and continually meets the needs of its
customers, by using surveys, interviews, CTAP survey data, focus
groups and other input. An online assessment system will enable
users to provide feedback, by answering questions about the value
of the resources, how they were used, and how the service could
be improved. ESS will also collect evaluative information from online
surveys and periodic e-mail messages sent to registered users.

How Does the Review System Work?

Publishers and producers of electronic resources in the four core
content areas may submit their programs to CLRN. In an efficient
process that guarantees speedy review, publishers complete an online
profile of each program, indicate content standards that are taught
or reinforced, and send four copies of the program to CLRN. They
must also submit a lesson that explains how to integrate the resource
into the curriculum.

Each week, CLRN schedules review sessions where teachers who are
also content experts verify publisher information, add comments,
and describe each program.

This spring, partner sites began training educators in the review
criteria and the state's Legal Compliance guidelines. It was an
exciting process for both trainers and reviewers. According to a
CLRN facilitator, "They loved the process and are jazzed about
being able to use their new software on Monday. They are thorough."

Similar to the curriculum commission's adoption process, reviewers
receive resources in advance to begin their work. They preview the
program, look at the documentation, and familiarize themselves with
its components and operation. The three-member panel then meets
to conduct the review and reach consensus. During this process,
one reviewer serves as facilitator and writer, a second operates
the resource and the third educator acts as researcher, checking
the product's documentation.

An unexpected benefit discovered by ESS during the training was
that it strengthened reviewers' connections between electronic resources
and their curriculum. Ninety-five percent of them reported the review
process and training enabled them to more effectively implement
the California Content Standards, and to help other educators understand
them with more awareness of the issues to consider when making purchases.

Says one reviewer, "The experience has heightened my awareness
of educational resources and their content. I believe it will help
me in making better choices when purchasing resources and in discriminating
what is relevant for my students."

Working Online

Most of CLRN's work, from product submission to final dissemination,
is performed online, a paradigm that allows CLRN to complete reviews
within 90 days of submission. According to John Fleischman, director
of Instructional Technology and Learning Resources at the Sacramento
County Office of Education, "CLRN has created a full electronic
process from the first submission to the extraction of information
by the end user. Every aspect of the review process is performed

Publishers initiate program review by inputting program information
at CLRN's publisher Web site. Besides the normal descriptive data
such as title, subject and description, publishers also specify
academic content standards addressed by their programs. Finally,
publishers provide a lesson that demonstrates how to integrate their
program into the curriculum.

Within weeks, submitted programs are reviewed at CLRN's partner
county offices. During the review, content experts access the online
database to validate, edit and annotate program information. As
the experts complete their work, publishers can access their programs
to check for accuracy before they are posted live online.


Another SETS project, the California Statewide Master Agreement
for Resources in Technology (C-SMART), will negotiate reduced prices
for CLRN reviewed programs. Users may then link directly from a
CLRN product review to C-SMART's Web site www.c-smart.org
for purchase information. In addition, CTAP2 (pronounced CTAP squared),
the technology self-assessment site for educators, will connect
teachers to CLRN lessons based on their technology proficiency levels.


CLRN's core technology is its database. A dynamic, interactive
Web site capable of supporting the volume of information created
by CLRN can only exist in a database-driven environment. From product
submission through portal delivery, CLRN created three server environments
to support their network: the primary database, using Microsoft
SQL, runs on a four-processor NT server with one Gigabyte of RAM;
a second server creates and delivers the Webpages; and a third server
streams media to customers.

The Sacramento County Office of Education coordinates Web site
and database development. To ensure that CRLN meets customer's needs,
Fleischman researched CLRN's customer base, assessed their software
availability, and looked at current development standards to discover
the practices of similar-sized sites. The result was CLRN's database-driven
review process disseminated through a state-of-the-art portal.

CLRN Portal

The CLRN portal will offer a single integrated Web site for information
about California standards-aligned electronic learning resources.
Educators can customize the portal to meet their needs, perform
simple to complex searches, participate in threaded discussions,
receive notice of reviews meeting their search requirements, and
find education-related events on the CLRN Calendar.

Teachers will have many search options. A keyword search utilizing
Boolean logic will allow users to find resources based on keywords
they've input. A catalog-type search will allow users to drill down
to specific resources. Using pull-down menus, a third search option
allows users to find resources meeting their specific search criteria.
Other options include grade, subject, type of technology, and specific
content standard, and educators will be able to look for programs
that suit a specific instructional style. Instructional modes include
tutorial, simulation, problem solving, educational game, skill building,
dramatization, supplemental reference resource and assessment.

Reviews will include a product description, the program objectives,
student and teacher features, support materials, research links,
and the specific content standards facilitated by the program.

E-mail Notification and Enhancements

Would you like to know when a new sixth-grade math program is reviewed?
Based on a profile you provide, you can be automatically notified
when a new product review meets your needs. Using the same criteria
available on the search page, you can identify the types of programs
and media you're interested in. As those specific program reviews
are published by CLRN, you'll receive automatic e-mail notification
of their inclusion.

Other enhancements will include Listservs, discussion groups and
online discussions with guest experts. Educators may participate
in threaded discussions in each of the content areas. These moderated
groups will include content specialists who will help facilitate

CLRN's portal will link educators to a variety of related sites
including the other Statewide Educational Technology Services, CTAP,
CDE, content specific organizations, and the new technology self-assessment
site, CTAP2. The opening page will also display current CLRN news,
a conference calendar, and a quick survey providing daily input
of users' needs.


Future Web site enhancements will also include an online forum,
CLRN news articles, and a teacher feedback section that will allow
educators to comment on resources and give examples of how they
are being used in the classroom.

While CLRN stands on the shoulders of several previous projects,
they have built a resource review process from the ground up. CLRN
expands on the strengths of its predecessors through a State Board
of Education-approved review process, product review by educators
who are content experts, dissemination through a customer-centric
portal, and evaluation by an independent agency. CLRN's mission
is to be your one-stop resource for California standards-aligned
supplemental electronic learning resources.

Bridget Foster is director of the California
Learning Resource Network. E-mail: bfoster@stan-co.k12.ca.us.

Brian Bridges is the Digital High School
Coordinator for CTAP, Region 6 and a regular contributor to OnCUE.
E-mail: bbridges@stan-co.k12.ca.us.

The California Learning Resource Network
(CLRN), a Statewide Educational Technology Service (SETS) of the
California Department of Education, is administered by the Stanislaus
County Office of Education. Bridget Foster, director. Search the
CLRN database at www.clrn.org.
is hereby granted to California educators to copy
this material for instructional use. The document may not be distributed
for profit.

© Stanislaus County Office of Education.

CLRN Evaluation Partners

  • Humboldt County Office of Education: Cathy Dickerson, Science
  • Kern County Superintendent of Schools: Christine Doyle, Mathematics
  • Kings County Office of Education: Jim Shaver, Mathematics
  • Sacramento County Office of Education: Linda Perry, English-Language
  • San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools: Peg Hill, History-Social
  • San Diego County Superintendent of Schools: Sandy Stevens, English-Language
  • Stanislaus County Office of Education: Bridget Foster, Director

Contact Information

E-mail: info@clrn.org


1100 H St.

Modesto, CA 95354

Phone: (209) 525-4979

Fax: (209) 525-4689