Dave Saracco

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Educational Publishers Learn the Importance of Metadata

Posted by Dave Saracco on Nov 13, 2013 11:39:00 AM

describe the imageOver the past ten years, I have been working with educational publishers, large and small, helping them with their digital publishing needs from building ancillary products both online and on CDs and DVDs, online course ware, digital assessment programs, online e-textbook selling sites, and hundreds of other educational products.  For the past year, my focus here at RSI is to help educational, academic and media publishing companies with their content management needs and content preparation for concurrent, multichannel publishing.  At most meetings with educational publishers these days, a good deal of the discussion is focused on how RSuite can help in the increasingly daunting task of properly tagging their content for discovery both internally and externally. 

Most publishers today have begun to understand the importance of rich metadata.  The selling of ebooks through the retail outlets has certainly brought an elevated focus to having your metadata robust, available, flexible and up to date but that metadata only scratches the surface for educational publishers.

According to that “great” source in the clouds (Wikipedia), Metadata is usually categorized in three types:

    • Descriptive metadata describes an information resource for identification and retrieval through elements such as title, author, and abstract.
    • Structural metadata documents relationships within and among objects through elements such as links to other components (e.g., how pages are put together to form chapters).
    • Administrative metadata helps to manage information resources through elements such as version number, archiving date, and other technical information for purposes of file management, rights management and preservation.

Standards-based metadata models are being hyped to help address educational objects discoverability in the marketplace such as the recently released Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) (backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and the Achievement Standards Networks (ASN) (which essentially enables content creators to describe the objective of learning and teaching resources in terms required by each state). There’s the existing standards such as the Learning Object Metadata model supported and managed by the International Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set to name only a few.

According to the LRMI’s mission, all of these initiatives are meant to “facilitate personalized learning by…” giving publishers the capability of tagging the content so learners can have “…the right content at the right time” and also to address the demands of states for standardized descriptions of learning resources. 

The key requirements for exploiting educational learning object metadata are to:

    • Understand user/community needs and to express these as an application profile
    • Have a strategy for creating high quality metadata
    • Store this metadata in a form which can be exported as LOM records
    • Agree a binding for LOM instances when they are exchanged
    • Be able to exchange records with other systems either as single instances or en masse.

How do you currently manage the process of tagging your content?

While RSuite CMS can certainly help publishers efficiently and effectively manage the complex metadata requirements for today’s educational publishers, I would like to understand your challenges by commenting on the questions below or bringing your own questions to the table…

    • Did you build your own taxonomy and system to add the tags to your content? 
    • Have you adopted one of the “standards”? 
    • Are you tagging your content with any metadata that will facilitate users finding and purchasing your content much less difficult than it is today? 


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Topics: RSuite CMS, educational publishing, metadata

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