Building an education strategy for metadata

On quite a different note, but nevertheless favourite topic of debate for me…well not debate really as teachers and educators don’t think about this…is a metadata focus.

I was diverted back to this track by a post from the Really Strategies Blog and a planned focus group meeting in New York City on the knowledge and usage of industry standards and metadata.

Now, as an information professional, metadata means a lot to me! But for the average educator reading this blog, take it from me – without metadata our learning management systems, our knowledge management structures, and almost everything we are building up in our online world is dependent on GOOD metadata.

What is metadata? Well, it is information about any resource either physical or digital, and enables management and organisation of information. Metadata is used to facilitate discovery and retrieval of information; enables data interchange; separates content, structure, presentation and behaviour; provides the opportunity to enrich information about resources; and ensures persistence in resources. In other words, as information is stockpiled, you get to be able to find it!

This isn’t the place to go into details, but standards for metadata are available from a number of sources, and are important as they allow consistency, help to establish authority and allow ease of access for users (that’s us! 🙂 )

Some very important global standards are in operation, and include Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (which includes an education set) and Learning Object Metadata from IEEE. A good example of the practical, vital and valuable application of metadata in Australian education is demonstrated by EDNA (Education Network Australia). This organisation recognised early on the essential role of metadata.

The EdNA Metadata Standard is based on the internationally recognised Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (DCMES) and is consistent with the Australian Government Locator Service (AGLS). The work of maintaining the EdNA Metadata Standard is conducted by the EdNA Metadata Standard Working Group which reports to the AICTEC Standards Sub-Committee and the limited Board.

The problem is that school systems, and individual schools implementing knowledge management initiatives or learning management systems haven’t (on the whole) caught up with the priority of metadata. It’s a vital component of good Web 2.0 implementation of collaborative learning cultures.

At the end of 2005 I had the good fortune to work on a project (for a national online digital media delivery system used by Australian schools) developing a complete metadata set for the company. I guess I have a bit of an idea of what’s involved.

So I would love to be a fly on the wall and hear what the meeting in New York comes up with in discussion on how publishers are using metadata in their digital asset and content management workflows well as for enhancing content for reuse and product development.

However, some of the key points for discussion at that meeting have significant relevance for schools and learning or content management systems now and in the future. Here are some of them I’ve adapted for schools:

  • How will schools achieve sophisticated search today – or plan for it in the future?
  • Is there a way to easily share information with other schools or sectors?
  • What does an education enterprise metadata strategy actually mean in a practical sense? What is the value to schools and organisations that have one?
  • How will schools manage their digital rights in this environment?
  • Are schools achieving success with Digital Asset Management and content management systems and/ what are the critical success factors?
  • Is automating RSS or other types of syndication feeds an imperative?

Come on education – wake up to metadata, content management workflows, content reuse and information dissemination.

2 thoughts on “Building an education strategy for metadata

  1. Pingback: Meta matters » Metadata at

  2. Pingback: Helen's Weblog

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