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IMS, DCMI, IEEE to work together on metadata issues

Organisations working on standards for educational metadata have issued a communique setting out how they plan to work together to solve issues affecting the education and training communities.

The communique was issued after a meeting last week in Ottawa between the IMS Global Learning Consortium, the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (Learning Object Metadata Working Group), and the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative.

According to convenor Neil McLean, Director of IMS Australia, the meeting arose "out of an increasing perception that many educational communities around the world were feeling real pain in trying to put together metadata schema that could deal with both discovery and the business requirements for sustaining online environments."

McLean explains that the five-point plan of action contained in the communique is designed to "restate a commonality of purpose between the principal metadata schemas, to promote the concept of application profiles using multiple schemas and to provide some practical examples of RDF or XML bindings to illustrate how application profiles work in practice."

"A great deal of work remains to be done but the Communique sends a clear signal to education and training communities that there is a fresh resolve to address these important metadata issues."

The existence of multiple metadata schemas have proven a headache for developers and content creators, who have to choose between schemas, or provide multiple sets of metadata for content. This can be tricky, as elements that may appear similar in the different schemas may in fact have a different stated purpose.

Application profiles are one approach to the problem: an application profile is a compound schema that combines elements taken from several other schemas.

This enables the application reading the profile to choose the elements that best suit its purpose. For example, a content repository that used an application profile combining DCMI and LOM/IMS elements could be accessed by library applications using the DCMI content of the profile, whereas Learning Management Systems may choose to make use of the more detailed LOM/IMS elements.

The group intends to publish guidelines and examples of application profiles that combine LOM and DCMI metadata as part of its plan of action.

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