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Name of Collaboratory :


Collaboratory Project, The


URL :  

Collaboratory Status :

Operational   Start Date : 1996 End Date : Info Last Updated : Thu, Dec 9 2010 5:01am PST

Primary Collaboratory Function :

  Virtual Learning Community  

Secondary Collaboratory Functions :


Domain(s) :

  HUMANITIES >Education >Educational/Instructional Media Design
HUMANITIES >Other Education >Education, General

Brief Description of the Collaboratory :


The Collaboratory is an easy-to-use Web-based collaborative environment that supports teachers and students, primarily in K–12 settings. All activities available at The Collaboratory are linked to the Illinois Learning Standards, and all materials are free to teachers. It is a safe and secure online environment that teachers and students can utilize without fear. It is funded by federal, state, and foundation grants and is managed by the Information Technology group at Northwestern.

Many resources are made available at The Collaboratory that support the development of innovative project-based curricular activities. The Cybrary (basically, an online library), the Internet Book Club, the Survey Studio (online data collection forms), ePortfolios (where students create and share their work), and the Nexus (interactive online communities).

The Collaboratory Project is a Northwestern University initiative that provides project consulting, training, technical advice, and Web-based resources and services to K-12 teachers and their students who are interested in using Internet technologies to advance education.


Access to Instruments :


Access to Information Resources :

  To begin, a teacher needs a computer with a standard Web browser and any Internet connection and should access the How to Participate section of The Collaboratory. From there, the teacher applies for an account and, upon verification of his or her employment as a teacher, can begin to use the online databases and communications systems to build project-based lessons for the classroom.  

Access to People as Resources :

  Curricular scaffolding is built in to The Collaboratory and its Resources. The teacher decides what methodology to use and what the curriculum will be, based on the projects that he or she devises for the students. Some projects are sponsored by the funding entities—such as the science Spider Study and the Frog and Toad Study sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. But The Collaboratory seeks to support any innovative and meaningful project developed by teachers that establish models for replication. In fact, the collegial atmosphere of The Collaboratory encourages teachers to “share and steal” each other’s projects—the only caveats are that proper credit be given to the originator and that the materials not be sold.

They hold symposia, conferences, and eCourses for collaboratory users.

Funding Agency or Sponsor :

Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Illinois State Board of Education
SBC (this-used-to-be-Ameritech-SBC)
Sun Microsystems Computer Corp.

Notes on Funding Agencies/Sponsors:
Originally they were founded by a roughly $2 Million grant from Ameritech over the course of three or four years. Then, they were funded by the State of Illinois. Then they used a series of smaller grants from various organizations like the Department of Natural Resources, I-VOTE, and others that are specific to those organizations’ interests.

Organizations with Funded Participants:
Organization name:
Approx # of participants:
Description of organization's role(s):
Northwestern University
Initiating institution

Notes on Participants/Organizations:
A 2008 interview with the director says they have 9,600 teacher accounts, 900 technology coordinator accounts, and over 2,000 schools represented in The Collaboratory.


Communications Technology Used :

  Communication services include messaging, conferencing, discussion forums, invitations, announcements, and calendars for teachers and students. Automatic alerts and notifications keep participants up-to-date about what’s going on at The Collaboratory; search capabilities make it easy to find other people and projects.  

Technical Capabilities :

  Key Articles :    

Project-reported performance data :

  A 2008 interview with the director says they have 9,600 teacher accounts, 900 technology coordinator accounts, and over 2,000 schools represented in The Collaboratory.  
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