Public Participation at ED.gov

Aligned to goals:
  • 1.5: Maintain up-to-date information on the Department's website about Department offices and key programs.
  • 2.1: Provide more insight into the agency's decision-making process.
  • 2.3: Collect and use input from the public and other stakeholders for decision-making.

The Department of Education encourages public participation using Web-based collaboration tools. The Department of Education will continue to use Web-based tools available at ed.gov and other third-party offerings to engage the public in a discussion on topics related to education.

The Department of Education recently deployed an open source Web publishing technology, in part to provide collaboration opportunities. Through its modular architecture, this technology provides www.ed.gov capabilities, such as public commenting on Web pages, voting on topics, and discussion forums.

In the future, the Department will use a mixture of these tools to encourage public feedback on education activities, classroom and administrative best practices, high-value data set releases, and other special topics as they arise.

An example of public commenting on ed.gov Web pages can be found on the 2010 National Education Technology Plan page at http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010. The Office of Educational Technology published a draft of this document online and invited the public to comment. The plan describes how information and communication technologies can help transform American education. It provides concrete goals to inform State and local education technology plans, and recommendations to inspire research, development, and innovation. "We are open to your comments," Secretary Duncan said in a video announcing the plan. "Tell us about how technology has changed your school or classroom."

Interested parties are able to attach comments specifically on individual pages of the plan. As part of the feature, participants are able to reply online to existing comments, creating a forum for discussion. This targeted feedback is being gathered and analyzed and will be contributory to future drafts of the plan.

The ED.gov blog (http://www.ed.gov/blog) is another tool used for gathering topical feedback. The blog features a "Join the Conversation" section that highlights blog posts where public feedback is encouraged. This extends engagement opportunities, such as the Department's Listening and Learning Tour events, by providing an additional venue for the public to participate in the open discussion.

The Department does not produce any education materials; however, we do maintain a one-stop website designed to make it easy for teachers, parents, students, and the general public to find education materials from sister federal agencies (e.g., National Science Foundation, NASA, Smithsonian, etc). The website, FREE, is one of the Department's most popular Web offerings because nearly all of the 1,600 resources available there are free for re-use. Federal Resources for Educational Excellence is available at FREE—http://www.free.ed.gov/.