I didn't even realize that the different state standards were published this way. That's kind of nice. I like the approach of a sheet online that members could go to edit and add applications - and I can also see how this would turn into a very big and complex database quickly with different states and countries & changing standards. I'm looking at the English Language
ArtsK-5.pdf, and see that the particular curriculum specs follow an outline form. "Title" "Code" and "line items", if other curriculum follow a similar format or it would be possible (or wouldn't be impossible) to get the different states data into a similar format we could be onto something. Thinking...
On the frontend, when an application is uploaded, the author/(or users if a wiki would work well here) could define a general set of standards/outline that their tool/content is meant to meet (not entered into the database, but outlined in the description). Because new software/content wouldn't initially be matched with curriculum, users trying out content would be able/encouraged to report back into the database through an interface that would let them rate for their state which line items the FOSS met or didn't meet (scale from 1-5 maybe) and maybe some other details such as 'ease of installation', 'ease of use', 'interface'. This would allow for different applications to be mapped to each states specific standards, and for them to be searchable in various ways, and provide clues to teachers as to how it could meet their academic goals. Ease of use would come through keeping the interface intuitive.
On the backend, maybe an index with each state having it's own standards .xml (something like this would maybe allow something like an OpenOffice template to be created for entering the different standards) file that could be plugged in and slurped to a database. Keeping it modular would be key, and one task that seems would be very tricky would be dealing with standards when they change. Are standards changes broad as in complete rewrites of entire subjects, or do they sometimes only change one detail of one line item? (I suspect the answer to this is "yes") The only thing I could think of would be some 'versioning' type setup, where a new standard doesn't attach to any of the old user input data, but the old data is still available for looking into/searching but marked read only/depreciated and new assessments would be entered into the new standard.
I think figuring out a database design would be preferable to a collection of spreadsheets, because the database would be an effective tool in other ways as well. It could be examined by people wanting to develop educational resources to find out if there is already something out there that does the job, and to find areas that content needs to be developed for. It would help us quantify the value of FOSS in schools, and it would also be more dynamic and less maintenance if it were designed properly.
A lot of thought will have to be put into how each aspect is designed before any real work is done, mainly because the base data (standards) to be measured would change over time. Things would have to be thought about such as, who verifies that state standards updates are posted..would it be a community effort, or individuals? That sort of dynamic structure would go beyond my database programming ability.
Doug & Les - What would you think of School Forge becoming more integrated with the Application Index, it was designed in such a way that it's still enduring and looks like it would be a flexible base to work off of. I could go through some of the perl code and stylesheets to pretty/modernize the display (would stay true to the original code simplicity) I could also check into the freshmeat feeds suggestions that I saw mentioned.. things such as I mentioned above, I'd also work on, but I'd wait until a fairly well thought out plan is in place and there are at least a couple other volunteers to help with some of the specific skills needed.