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Articles about metadata

CETIS wins new JISC interoperability service contract
You might well wonder if providing a service about interoperability standards for JISC isn't what CETIS has been doing for quite a while now; you'd be right, it has. The new contract means a step change in the way CETIS will fulfill that service to the community, though.

CETIS Metadata and Digital Repository SIG meeting
The next CETIS Metadata and Digital Repository SIG meeting will look at reference models, specific requirements from eLearning repositories and the OAIS model.

TELCERT Workshop; Tools for the e-Learning Framework
This workshop introduce participants in the e-Learning Framework projects and the broader JISC community to the tools developed by the TELCERT project. These tools exploit the IMS Application Profiling Guidelines which offer the prospect of refining (i.e. profiling) a variety of e-Learning technology specifications so as to better meet the needs of a target community, without breaking underlying interoperability.

New CETIS briefings available
The ever-popular series of CETIS briefings on e-learning standards just received two new additions, two major updates, and some tweaking on others.

Alt-I-Lab 2005 Demonstrators
The Alt-I-Lab conference has a regular demonstrators session where participants can show off their latest interoperability wares to the assembled crowd. This session tends to be held in an informal market-style which lends itself to a great deal of informed discussion between participants and really is at the core of what the Alt-I-Lab conference is about.

Tag me stupid, baby!
Collection of rather biting commentary on an equally vitriolic piece on a well-intended but slightly misguided attempt to introduce the world to 'honor tagging'; a way to categorise your own blog posts by your communicative intention. Great for gratuitous metadata abuse ("The Road to Hell looks like it's going to be Tagged With Good Intentions") , but this should give pause for thought: "Failure is pretty much guaranteed when such cumbersome tagging systems are proposed, for the same reasons the semantic web has gone nowhere. Principally, it's impossible to imagine any non-Android volunteering to tag their own communications, before or after the fact." Unless, I'd say, there is an incentive for that non-android to tag with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

DC-2005 Conference
The fifth International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications will focus on the use of vocabularies and will bring together users of Dublin Core, LOM (Learning Object Metadata), W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) Semantic Web, thesauri, subject classifications and taxonomies.

It's a LOM binding, Jim, but not as we know it
For most people who have to describe digital learning resources, IMS Meta-Data is just the ticket. It provides almost everything: the model for the record, the method of encoding it and the means of checking the record. With the new IEEE LOM XML binding, that will change in some subtle ways.

OKI and IMS, wires and sockets revisited
Two years ago, at the alt-i-lab conference in Boston, the relation of the Open Knowledge Initiative's (OKI) Open Service Interface Definitions (OSIDs) with IMS's specifications was discussed at length. Now, just before this year's alt-i-lab conference, the OKI - IMS relation is finalised at the process and part of the spec level. One the wider, technical level, the merits of combining OSIDs with web services will be demonstrated during alt-i-lab in Sheffield.

From RDF to Topic Maps and back again
If you want to share not just content, but your knowledge of a particular domain, there's two standards that can provide the means: RDF and Topic Maps. The two developed independent of each other, but the first survey of how to map knowledge in the one standard to the other has now been published. It'll be the first step to a standardised RDF - Topic Map interoperability guideline.

Third CETIS/LIFE codebash goes public
To test the interoperability of educational content, metadata and services there's nothing like getting files into and out of as many different tools as possible. Better yet, get the developers of those tools into one room, and let them sort out any issues. CETIS codebashes do just that, but the third iteration had some differences: it was co-organised with the European LIFE (Learning Interoperability Framework for Europe) project and some of the files are now public.

CORDRA or reconciling local repositories and global federations
These days, many elearning community virtually define themselves by setting up their own repositories, each with its own technology choices, metadata and content. Which is fine, but it can mean that the community can miss out on great resources made elsewhere. The CORDRA (Content Object Repository Discovery and Registration/Resolution Architecture) initiative seeks to reconcile these local concerns with global reach. A report of a two day workshop on the topic is now available.

LionShare releases personal repository milestone
Born of the recognition that the vast majority of learning and teaching material lives on peoples' PCs, the LionShare project aims to provide a simple and trusted way to share those materials with others. The open source application isn't quite done yet, but a useable beta has just been released.

IEEE LTSC face to face meeting
IEEE LTSC Working Groups will be holding face-to-face meetings the ADL Co-lab.

NLN material plugs OK
*update* Prototype materials for the latest round of National Learning Network (NLN) content development have been successfully tested. After a round of trialling and testing by a number of different colleges and educational centres, the interoperable packages were presented in Birmingham by the five content vendors. Unlike previous batches, this round of content procurement by the NLN is aimed exclusively at Adult and Community Learning (ACL).

Interoperability state of play at IMS Melbourne meeting
The open tech forum at an IMS meeting is a public show-and-tell that is occassionally layed on for the benefit of the wider community. The one in Melbourne this week was exemplary in giving a wide variety of people the opportunity to air their views on the state of play in e-learning. The downside is the blizzard of (Power)Points that can unleash. We gather the kernels for your enjoyment.

Educational Metadata FAQ launched
Everything you always wanted to know about data about educational data, maintained in a Wiki, with an initial kernel of answers by a roll-call of experts in the field.

Metadata and Digiatal Repository SIG Meeting
Focussing on repositories and related issues.

Look ma, no metadata forms
It's long been recognised that adding meaningful descriptions is one of the more unpopular and error prone aspects of creating learning objects. One solution that has been touted for a pretty long time is to leave the chore to the machines, but practical solutions have been relatively rare. There is now an open source solution from one of the founders of the Learning Object Metadata standard (LOM): Ariadne.

Sentient launch repository with Word interface
In a bid to make the authoring part of learning object lifecycle easier for non-specialists, Sentient has anounced the availability of a new repository on the UK market, LearnBase.

CELEBRATE Evaluation Report
A hefty pdf (1.8 Mb, 202 pages) outlining the outcomes of the large, 30 month Context eLearning with Broadband Technologies (CELEBRATE) project. A fair few case studies and a firm focus on the practicalities of using learning objects in schools make it well worth a (skim) read. Inevitably, some of the lofty goals of the project at the start have not quite come out as intended. For example, the question whether interoperability standards make reuse of material any easier could not be addressed systematically. Still, the finding that interoperability was as much down to minimal standards of hard- and software infrastructure in schools as the format of the objects themselves is worth bearing in mind. Thanks to EdTechPost for the link.

The state of standards at Online Educa 2004
In amongst many, many other things, Berlin's Online Educa 2004 conference had almost a full day's worth of events on the topic of educational interoperability standards. Since the morning's session was mostly about content interoperability, and the afternoon session about collaborative technology, the panel discussion at the end made for some pretty clear contrasts about where different people think interoperability standards are.

Filling out the E-Learning Framework boxes
The results of the first JISC/CETIS conference in Oxford are now available online. The conference brought together specialists from a number of international e-learning initiatives with all current JISC sponsored e-learning technology development projects. Purpose: to start filling out all those boxes in the E-Learning Framework (ELF), but also to give geeks and regular people an opportunity to explore trends in e-learning technology in general.

Next EC SIG meeting
The next meeting of will be a joint meeting between the Metadata SIG and the EC SIG. The meeting will focus on two standards that are of interest to both communities - namely METS (the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard) and Topic maps.

UK Creative Commons licence announced
From November 1st, the UK will have its own version of the popular Creative Commons licences. The basic idea of making sharing work easy without getting ripped off is the same, but the legalese behind these licences are expressed in UK, rather than US terms.

Learning Object Metadata use survey: sticking the short and wide in the long and thin
The recently revamped CanCore initiative, with assistance from the Finnish delegation to ISO SC36, completed a survey of the widely used IEEE standard for Learning Object Metadata (LOM). The findings paint a picture of communities using relatively small parts of the long list of elements that the LOM provides, but do use their own vocabularies for the elements that are used.

Intrallect Developer’s Forum: Repository Interoperability
The purpose of this forum is to discuss potential ways in which other e-learning systems can interoperate with Intralibrary. The day will include demonstrations of intraLibrary’s current modes of interoperability and technical discussions on various system-to-system technologies.

When metadata becomes content, and authoring learning
and the result an assessment method and part of a learner's/learning profile, you have something like Topic Maps. One of a number of emerging semantic web standards, it is the subject of quite a bit of research and development. The Norwegian estandard project and its members are busy working on educational applications of the technology.

Intrallect wins JORUM UK national repository contract
With the awarding of the 250.000 GBP contract, the JISC sponsored JORUM project will start the transition to a national repository of learning materials, to be made available to the UK Further and Higher Education by August 2005.

MMI-Dublin Core Workshop
The MMI-DC (Metadata for MultiMedia Information - Dublin Core) Workshop is an open meeting held by CEN/ISSS (European Committee for Standardization / Information Society Standardization System).

Alt-I-Lab results: mind the gap...
between user expectation of interoperability and reality. Or so the University of Waterloo's Tom Carey thought. And repeated it in at least four other varieties of English to make sure the message hit home. Because last week's was the second alt-i-lab, we can begin to look at whether the participants in the interoperability fest are actually closing that gap.

Transferring resourcelists from a VLE to a library (and back again)
In the notoriously unresolvable discussion over what a learning object is, one category that's easily overlooked is the traditional academic article or monograph. Printed or otherwise, these are bread and butter learning resources in many a course, and constitute one of the main intersections between the e-learning and library worlds. Hence the need to exhange lists of such resources between virtual learnign environments and (digital) library systems, which is now addressed by the new public draft of IMS Resource List Interoperability.

Matching content to learners
The one year old IMS Accessibility for Learner Information Profile (ACCLIP) specification allows you to store the accessibility preferences of learners in a flexible way. Which is handy, but a less than complete solution until the content a learner wants to look at can be matched to those preferences. With the new IMS Accessibility for Meta-Data (ACCMD) spec, that circle is now being closed.

Sticking a layer of CORDRA on top
The Carnegie Mellon Learning Systems Architecture Lab (LSAL) published a new paper on ADL's new Content Object Repository Discovery and Registration/Resolution Architecture (CORDRA) initiative. It comes with a major health warning to the effect that it represents nothing but the authors' opinion, but it certainly clarifies what CORDRA is meant to do, and how it could go about doing it.

IMS revs Meta-data spec
But hang on, wasn't IMS Meta-Data supposed to be succeeded by the IEEE LOM standard? Indeed it is, and that is exactly what the new revision of IMS Meta-Data is mostly about: how to get to IEEE LOM 1.0 from IMS Meta-data 1.1.2. More than that, it is a pretty comprehensive, up to date and accessible guide for anyone who wants to implement the LOM.

Metadata and Digital Repository SIG Meeting

RDN/LTSN Partnerships: Learning resource discovery based on the LOM and the OAI-PMH
Practical article in Ariadne about the design and implementation of the RDN/LTSN LOM Application Profile (RLLOMAP). Less technically: it is a very clear and comprehensive guide for a community to develop their own metadata standard, while preserving as much national and international interoperability as possible. Link via EdTechpost

New version of UK education metadata profile released
A new draft of the UK Learning Object Metadata Core (UK LOM Core) profile has just been made public. This version of the IEEE LOM standard is scheduled to become a full release in the summer, after a consultation period.

LionShare Wiki
The LionShare peer-to-peer personal respository project had opened a Wiki. For anyone already using LionShare, or interested in it, this is the place to get more info and contribute to its further development.

Metadata Quality in e-Learning: Garbage In - Garbage Out?
One of the first things I ever learned as a schoolgirl about computers and computer programming was the acronym GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. As a grownup librarian working in e-learning, I was surprised to find a few years back that those who were thinking about metadata for learning objects appeared to have forgotten this truism.

Metadata for Accessibility Workshop
A special one-day open workshop session of the CEN/ISSS MMI-DC Workshop, which aims to identify and investigate the way in which metadata can help accessibility.

Splashing in Ponds and Pools
There's an awful lot going on in the general area of learning resource discovery and management at the moment. Most especialy about finding the right place to store resources, while still making sure that they can be discovered by other people. The Splash peer-to-peer (P2P) personal repository has been around longer than most in this area, and has been connected to nodes at institutional and regional/national level. We look at some of the lessons the developers learned.

Metadata SIG Meeting
The next meeting of the Metadata and Digital Repository SIG is in at the offices of Learning and Teaching Scotland, Glasgow on 8th March.

The cockroach of repository interoperability: Simple Query Interface
The European educational interoperability standards agency, the CEN-ISSS Learning Technologies Workshop, recently started specification and experimentation work on the Simple Query Interface (SQI). The specification candidate is based on work by a range of European and international projects and agencies. Given the plethora of digital repository interoperability specifications that already exist, we asked editors Erik Duval and Frans van Assche about the reasoning behind this one.

eLearning Results 2004
This is the second of the standards focussed e-learning conference organised by VLE maker Giunti. This edition focusses on implementation and streamlining rather than new specs and practices. The conference will be preceded by workshops on IMS Learning Design, SCORM 2004, OKI, and SCORM and AICC Certification.

ADL to make a 'repository SCORM'
Having safely delivered the SCORM 2004 (aka SCORM 1.3) e-learning content format, ADL outlined its plans for the Content Object Repository Discovery and Resolution Architecture (CORDRA) at the first ADL international plugfest in Zurich, Switserland. Like SCORM, the lovely named CORDRA will not be a new specification, but a reference model that combines a number of existing standards and specifications.

W3C releases major Semantic Web building blocks
The ambitious, five year old vision of the Semantic Web is a major step closer following the release of the Resource Description Framework (RDF) and the Ontology Web Language (OWL) as full World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommendations. We assess what it is and what it might mean for e-elearning.

JISC Conference 2004
Delegates will be given opportunities to learn about the full range of JISC’s work by participating in seminars, debates, workshops and demonstrations. In the exhibition area, JISC services and initiatives will be able to provide you with advice and guidance on a range of support and resources available to your institution.

Consultation about UK e-Government meta-data standard starts
The snazzily titled Office of the E-Envoy (the cabinet office bit responsible for online government stuff) has put out version 4 of its e-Government Metadata Standard (e-GMS) for public consultation. New features include a way of integrating e-GMS metadata in webpages.

'Institutional Digital Repositories' and 'Learning Object Repositories' - What's the Difference?
Quick and dirty survey-on-a-blog at Scott Leslie's EdTEchPost. The purpose is to help him make a comparison between various repository software packages. It is an interesting question in its own right, though.

IntraLibrary slots into Australian interoperability research project
The Collaborative Online and Information Services (COLIS) interoperability demonstrator project, now continued as the Interaction of IT Systems and Repositories (IISR) project, is to swap out its existing learning object repository with Intrallect's IntraLibrary.

Identifiers, migrating metadata and orphaned objects
Sometimes you want an identifier to unambiguously refer to a resource: punch in a loved one's phone number, and you expect their phone to ring, and no other. Much the same identifier - resource functionality would be desirable for learning objects, but that has not been sorted yet. CETIS organised a meeting with a broad swathe of stakeholders to address the issue.

Launch of Sentient DISCOVER & New WebCT PowerLink
Sentient seem to be quite serious about establishing themselves as a good go-between VLEs and library systems. There's also a link-up to Blackboard in the works. More interesting longer term is the commitment of Sentient to IMS, which should mean that the necessity to obtain special 'links' will diminish. The move also indicates that there might be an increasing demand for VLE -library integration.
Link via Edtechpost

LionShare peer-to-peer project kicks off
When the Visual User Image Study at Penn State looked at the use of images by students and staff they discovered a good many hidden treasure troves. How, then, to share these and other digital assets without taking control away from the owners? The LionShare peer-to-peer project aims to reconcile the two. We talk to the project's lead, Penn State's Mike Halm.

Using SHAME to fill your SCAM
The deadly serious people at the Knowledge Management Research group at Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology just released their open source Standardized Hyper Adaptable Metadata Editor (SHAME). The editor is designed to be used in conjunction wih the equally open source, RDF-based Standardised Content Archive Management (SCAM) system. The pair are meant to kick start eLearning on the semantic web.

LOM/CanCore Open-Source Software Components released
Rather than building a complete metadata application that only meets one set of current needs, the CanCore people built a set of components that can be re-used in many digital library applications that suit your requirements. It's an approach to open source educational software development that we're going to hear much more about.

Update: ISO emphasises free-of-charge use of its country, currency and language codes.
In a further clarification of its position, ISO now emphasises the free use of its country, currency and language codes, even by commercial software developers.

Open Source IMS VDEX authoring tool available
Hot on the heels of the spec itself is a first public beta of the first VDEX compliant authoring tool. With it, users can make VDEX encoded vocabularies and explore them for inclusion in IEEE LOM compliant metadata.

IMS Vocabulary Definition EXchange (VDEX) is a public draft.
IMS have just released a rather handy, small and general purpose specification for the exchange of vocabularies. There are a good many potential uses for the spec, but one of the main ones is as a means to facilitate interoperability between different application profiles of existing IMS and other learning technology specifications.

RELOAD editor adds Content Packaging and SCORM authoring
Following a comprehensive rewrite, the 1.1 version of the RELOAD e-learning content authoring tool can now be used to edit both plain IMS as well as SCORM content packages.

UKCMF becomes the UK LOM Core
After some soul searching, the name of the Learning Object Meta-Data standard as applied to the UK has changed from UK Core Metadata Framework (UKCMF) to the UK LOM Core.

The advantage of a standardised, structured data format is not limited to data exchange with other systems that understand the same format. Some cool work with XSLT by Raymond Yee and also the Digital University (DU) of the Netherlands demonstrates that content in one standard format can be transformed into another in practice.

Canadian Metadata Forum
Library and Archives Canada are hosting a two-day Canadian Metadata Forum, with the purpose of bringing together participants from Canadian metadata communities, both government and non-government, such as libraries, archives, museums, industry, educational institutions and academia.

Interoperability in practice at the CETIS / LTScotland codebash
Bangor, Wednesday, July 2, 2003. 46 participants from 26 organisations from 4 countries came to the second CETIS / Learning and Teaching Scotland codebash in Glasgow last week, with 2 participants joining in online.

QTI meets LOM
The COLA project, run by the Scottish Colleges Open Learning Exchange Group (COLEG), has developed one of the first applications of the IEEE Learing Object Metadata (LOM) standard to online assessment.

First draft of UK Common Metadata Framework released
CETIS has released the first draft of the UK Common Metadata Framework, providing practitioners in the UK with guidelines for using learning object metadata.

No one standard will suit all
Not a new sentiment, really, but one worth repeating. And it was repeated, in many different ways across a rather wide spectrum of speakers at the eLearning Results conference in Sestri Levante, Italy, yesterday.

A Quick Introduction to OWL
A link via Elearningspace to the most comprehensible introduction to the OWL Web Ontology Language I have seen so far. OWL is a mark-up language for publishing and sharing ontologies- basic semantic definitions of things you can find on the web and how they relate. It will play an important role in the semantic web, and might be used to ensure semantic interoperability elsewhere as well. The presentation is timely, as the W3C is in the final stages of releasing OWL 1.0

RELOAD releases beta of open source Metadata editor
One issue that keeps popping up in debates about learning objects is the metadata question; how are educators supposed to make an interoperable description of a learning object that will allow it to be found by others? The Reload elarning tool development project decided to attack that problem before any others, with the first results already appearing.

IEEE LTSC and ISO SC36 seek to prevent LOM split
Standards are as much process as they are product, and that means they need to move from one organisation to another. Occassionally that goes wrong, with a split standard as the imminent danger. IEEE LTSC and ISO SC36 are now working hard to prevent that from happening to the LOM metadata standard.

We've got the tech, lets build some communities
At the quarterly IMS meetings, the open technical forum is often the one to watch for the latest trends in elearning. The tech forum that is taking place in Vancouver, Canada right now is no exception, and the next priority is clear: building communities.

New Web Will Enable Scientists to Share Data Across Disciplines
Article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a status update Tim Berners-Lee did on the semantic web. Offers a slim but useful outline of the (very) big idea. "dentifying and using data hidden inside complex databases is a tricky problem. But Mr. Berners-Lee believes that solving it could accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering, especially in areas of interdisciplinary research that draw data from disciplines other than the researcher's primary areas of expertise."

ISO SC36 'Metadata for Learning Resources' working group approved
Following a ballot of its national members, the ISO JTC1 SC36 educational standards body will set up a working group for "Metadata for Learning Resources". But hang on, didn't we already have IEEE's LOM as a standard for data about learning objects? We do, and how IEEE's LOM and ISO's LRM will relate is going to be interesting.

IEEE to lift SCORM, IMS Content Packaging to standard status, clarifies LOM future.
Though proper standards bodies like IEEE are supposed to be more cautious and slow than specification bodies, IEEE's Learning and Teaching Sub Committee (LTSC) is anouncing a raft of new standards and initiatives for 2003. LOM will get new bindings, the Architecture and Reference Model and the gubbins that define SCORM are nearly standards, Competency Definitions and Digital Rights Expression Language are in various stages of completion and with a bit of luck, the ongoing copyright issue over IEEE standards might get resolved.

Digital Repositories Interoperability spec approved by IMS
The latest IMS spec to reach 'final' status deals with ways to store learning objects and make them available to other people. There are quite a few specs out there that will help systems do that already, but none specifically geared to make use of the IMS Meta-Data spec. Fortunately, IMS is not in the mood to start re-inventing the wheel, and has therefore liberally borrowed from existing specs.

TouchGraph GoogleBrowser V1.01
This one is straight from the cool-web-toys-department: a java applet that visually represents the result from a Google 'what's related' query. Enjoy your wanderings through topic clusters!

The one standard, LOM and the semantic web.
In a lengthy and characteristically thought provoking presentation, Stephen Downes challenges both the need and the demand for just one Learning Object Metadata (LOM) standard. That done, the very existence of such beasts as learning objects is called into question. We examine the argument.

6th CETIS Educational Content SIG Meeting
This meeting is now full: registrations closed.

Exposing information resources for e-learning - Harvesting and searching IMS metadata using the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting and Z39.50
Quite technical and comprehensive overview of both the nacent IMS Digital Repositories spec and the protocols used in JISC's Information environment. "while we are confident that the use of OAI-PMH described here will form a sensible basis for interoperability between different systems, the draft nature of the DRWG specifications probably means that it is a little early to be spending significant effort on supporting IMS metadata in Z39.50 just yet."

IMS Open Technical Forum and Special Briefing
The Open Technical Forum event is open to anyone interested in the latest developments around elearning interoperability standards. The Special Briefing is more in-depth about the IMS specifications.

Nobody expects the spontaneous integration
Or: how to integrate web-borne systems without even trying. Quite a rollicking read for anyone interested in web services. "By Thursday, the vendor of the library software had withdrawn the Web page on which I'd found the 900 URLs. What had seemed to be an informational Web page had turned out, to the vendor's surprise, to be a directory of Web services. Oops."

DC-2003 conference
The annual conference and workshop of the Dublin Core Initiative. The conference track is the venue for the latest research on anything to do with metadata; including, but not limited to, educational metadata. The tutorial track features introductions to the spec, and the workshop track ongoing technical development of the spec.

ADL takes first step to repository profile
With the publication of a report on "Emerging and Enabling Technologies for the Design of Learning Object Repositories", ADL is taking the first tentative steps to designing a learning object repository application profile to complement its existing learning object reference model, SCORM.

Stretching and squeezing (X)HTML to your needs
At the bottom of the pile of educational technology specifications sits (X)HTML; common as grass and about as worthy of comment. Or is it? With new working drafts for Modularization of XHTML in XML Schema and XHTML 2.0, the W3C is squeezing the ubiquitous web language onto more devices and stretching it to cover more functions. Some web geeks can't wait, and have already begun to make XHTML do weird and wonderful things.

IEEE explores Digital Rights Expression Language Standards
The continued, global wrangling over intellectual property in the digital age does not just pass the elearning world by. Whichever position you take on the sort of policy that should dominate, there needs to be some means to assert policies over educational content and applications. Which is exactly what the IEEE is starting to explore in a new draft white paper.

More Journals to your desktop, courtesy of the British Library, Adobe and Elsevier
[updated] Article search and delivery services aren't exactly new, but one of the biggest and most respected, inside from The British Library, is to provide easy, direct-to-desktop access to its treasure trove of research. The catch? Considerable cost and some use restrictions that will please publishers more than users.

EM2: An Environment for Editing and Management of Educational Metadata
A Educational Technology & Society article on an EU project about educational metadata- easily one of the trickiest areas of learning technology. This lengthy piece is pretty compulsory reading for anyone who needs to facilitate metadata searching and creation. It discusses both the practical problems, the most common tools and proposes the architecture of a comprehensive educational metadata management tool.

Z39.50 search and retrieve turned into simpler web service
With the launch of version 1.0 of Search and Retrieve Webservice/URL access mechanism (SRW/U) and the Common Query Language (CQL), webservice implementors of various hue now have a handier way to either expose their own databases, or search others'.

Open uPortal technology gains ground in the UK
Over a series of meetings, US representatives of the Java in Administration Special Interest Group (JA SIG) outlined their open source university portal technology to a diverse sample of UK HE representatives. Result: intriguing points of contact between UK educational software projects and uPortal have been identified, and a UK JA SIG has been set up.

A Scalable Architecture for Harvest-Based Digital Libraries
Quite a technical, but interesting article about the ideas that are now being used to make metadata searches easier and more reliable. The article is particularly valuable for those who need to know more about implementing the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting.

Developers content to bash code at CETIS
In the interest of science, about twenty-five developers were happy to have their precious programs maltreated during the CETIS content package codebash. Under the good offices of Learning and Teaching Scotland's (LTScotland) Gerry Graham CETIS' Lorna Campbell, IMS content packages were freely swapped between systems. Conclusion: getting wrapped-up learning objects from one system to another is getting a lot smoother, but we're not quite there yet.

This is the winter edition of a rather wide ranging conference that covers most topics that touch on electronic communication. The interest for learning technology professionals lies in the two opening keynotes: "The Semantic Web" by Erich Neuhold of Fraunhofer IPSI and University of Technology Darmstadt, and "The Future of Education" by Neville Holmes, School of Computing, University of Tasmania. The fee for the conference is € 600 (not applicable to those with accepted papers). Deadline for payment is December 10, 2002. Conference capacity is 200, so first come, first served.

CEN/ISSS Learning Technology Workshop meeting
This meeting follows on directly from the IEEE LTSC meeting at the same location. The meeting is open, but will be mainly of interest for people involved in ongoing work of the CEN/ISSS LTW work.

This meeting will be immediately followed by a CEN-ISSS LTW meeting. As a regular meeting, it will cover all ongoing LTSC concerns. These will include topics like the Learning Technology Systems Architecture Ballot report and a report on IMS Reusable Competency Definitions work.

Problems and Issues in Online Learning, October 2002
The title maybe a bit expansive, but this is a taut and to the point state-of-the-art article by Stephen Downes. Because it is by Stephen, it is not just a list of issues either; he argues consistently against monolithic, separate learning systems on both technical, functional and economic grounds. "The silo model is dysfunctional because it prevents, in some essential way, the location and sharing of learning resources."

Major Copyright Bill Affecting Distance Education Becomes Law
One of the most readable yet comprehensive overviews of the controversial new TEACH act that just came into force. The act may not have immediate consequences outside the US, but, like so much else, it could have repercussions for the way copyrighted material is used in elearning elsewhere.

Objective: Re-usable competency
After some extensive technical finetuning, IMS just made version 1.0 of the Re-useable Definition of Competency or Educational Objective (RDCEO) spec available. The purpose of this spec is to make it easy to refer to things like learning outcomes, skills, knowledge and tasks. This is particularly useful when information is required for career plans or when refering to course prerequisites or course outcomes.

W3C promotes XML 1.1 to Candidate Recommendation.
The technology that most current elearning standards are based on, eXtensible Markup Language (XML), is slowly advancing to a new version. Version 1.1 will be different mostly in how restrictive the spec is with regard to what is allowed, how newer or as yet undefined Unicode characters are handled in names and older linebreak codes more generally.

Design Principles for a Distributed Learning Object Repository Network
Characteristically clear outline by Stephen Downes of the architecture of a learning object repository. "The model envisioned by these principles, a network model, may be contrasted with what may be called the silo model for the distribution of learning resources."

The European Conference on e-Learning (ECEL) is an opportunity for academics, practitioners and consultants from Europe and elsewhere who are involved in the study, management, development and implementation of web enabled and ICT initiatives in the learning and teaching sectors as well as the professions to come together and exchange ideas and examples of best practice.

5 step guide to becoming a content provider in the JISC Information Environment
Detailed, relatively technical outline in the current issue of Ariadne that shows you how to let your resources interoperate with the JISC Information Environment. "Most content providers will already offer a Web site through which end-users can access their content. To be a part of the JISC-IE, content providers also need to support machine oriented interfaces to their resources."

Building Educational Metadata Application Profiles
A research paper (in MS Word format) by the people who authored the acclaimed CanCore and EdNA metadata profiles, to be presented at DC-2002 conference in October. "Efforts are currently underway to bring these abstract models and theoretical constructs to concrete realization in the context of communities of practice. One of the primary challenges faced by these efforts has been to balance or reconcile local requirements with those presented by domain-specific and cross-domain interoperability."

Dublin Core Initiative proposes library application profile
In an effort to achieve better, more seamless exchange of metadata between libraries and related applications, Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) proposes a new application profile.

Content at Your Fingertips: Better Ways to Classify & Tag
Useful and timely overview of the pros and cons of categorising and tagging content at creation, or later, after publication, by using search algorithms. The article introduces a number of products and flags the trend toward convergence between content classification and search based tagging.


Creating Environments for Learning: VLEs, MLEs, digital libraries and middleware

IMS member exchange: Conformance Now!
Two topics were billed for the IMS Open Technical Forum: conformance issues and e-Learning Implementation in the UK. As it turned out, specification conformance was the main topic of practically all presentations. The why and how as well as the why not was illuminated by representatives from a wide variety of organisations.

Learning content. Theirs, yours, mine and ours.
On the 30th of September, MIT's Open Course Ware (OCW) initiative will make the first batch of MIT learning resources available to the world. Free of charge. On the other side of the pond, the CELEBRATE project has just started to establish a digital repository to see, among many other things, what kind of model will generate a viable stock of learning objects for Europe's schools. Meanwhile, projects like the universal brokerage project and the UK's National Learning Network (NLN) are maturing nicely. The question that arises, then, is where all that learning content is going to come from, and, more importantly, who is going to make it.

Demystifying Metadata
Clear and concise exposition of the 'metadata' concept. Well worth reading if you're new to the field. "Metadata is often described as "information about information" but I prefer to think of it as another layer of information - simplified, distilled, made orderly - created to help people use an information source."

Being Objective
Not one but two compelling entries on Jay Cross' blog (there's also The Business of learning objects. He's been to the Learning Object Symposium, and reports on the pretty fundamental discussions on the wisdom of learning objects that took place there. "NETg's Brendon Towle noted that SCORM is inadquate because, among other things

  • SCORM only supports single learner/single LO configs,
  • No way to produce complex sequences of LOs (yet)
  • No inter-LO communications (sims)
  • No concept of pedagogy at all

JISC project looks at academics' digital rights
Rights MEtadata for Open archiving (RoMEO) is a one year JISC funded project that will research ways in which the rights of academics over papers they "self-submit" to on-line repositories can be managed.

OAI based federated search service open sourced
The Digital Library Group of Old Dominion University has made the source code for its Arc federated metadata search service available. This will enable developers from a variety of communities to develop their own versions, as well as help improve the features and stability of the software itself.

Macromedia presents Authorware 6.5, cuts education pricing in the US
Macromedia will make a new version of Authorware available at the end of September. Main changes include better accessibility tools and extensive XML support. Meanwhile, deeper discounts are offered to US educational volume buyers.

Find The Experts
Transform Magazine article on expertise management (as opposed to knowledge management). Thoughtprovoking on quite a few levels, particularly with regard to the fact that none of the expertise management system users even consider editing metadata manually. The article should be read with Stephen's Web commentary

DCMI release paper on records management / recordkeeping metadata
The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) have released a discussion paper on records management / recordkeeping metadata, and invites responses. The paper provides an overview of current initiatives in the field of record keeping preservation, and outlines ways in which DCMI can contribute.

Middleware The New Frontier
Solid and readable overview of the 'middleware' buzzword. "Perhaps the best way to define middle-ware is to look at how it functions in two different examples: (1) leading e-science activities, and (2) production-level campus support and service."

Survey of Learning Object Metadata Implementations
Useful overview of the work that's in LOM implementations. The list is divided in application profiles, metadata creation tools and repositories.

Link Types as Enablers of Semantic Navigation in Standard-Based Web Learning Systems
Short but interesting article on applying semantic web ideas and technology to (hyper)links; especially in e-learning material. The ideas are applied to SCORM, but have relevance far beyond that. '' the ability of the link to convey information about some aspects of the relationship between two nodes is underutilized both in the Web and in current Web-oriented educational technology specifications.''

Open Forum 2003 on Metadata Registries
This is the sixth in a series of international conferences on this topic. Participants will explore the capabilities, uses, content, development, and operation of registries and related technologies. Emphasis is on managing the semantics (meaning) of data that is shared within and between organizations or disseminated via the World Wide Web.

NSF Middleware Initiative Release 1.0
The US National Science Foundation (NSF) just released version 1.0 of their Middleware Initiative project. The project and the software is intended to make colloboration and integration of resources easier on the Internet and the Grid: a network of high capacity networks and computers that is used by American research institutions.

IMS Special Briefing: Standards & Specifications in E-learning
Following the Open Technical Forum on Thursday the 26th of September, IMS will organise two open sessions on e-learning standards on Friday 27th. The morning track is intended for managers and end users and the afternoon track is aimed at developers.

Lancaster team present evaluation engine for e-learning resource brokerage platform.
A team from the Department of Communication systems at Lancaster University developed an evaluation engine that helps rank e-learning resources in the "Universal Brokerage Platform for Learning Resources".

The Institute of Physics adopts OAI technical framework
The Institute of Physics has recently implemented the Open Archives Initiative technical framework for its Electronic Journals service.

W3C releases a raft of new XQuery and XPath documents.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has updated draft specs for XML Path and XML Query language specs, data models and use cases.

Doing It with Meaning
It appears that corporate America is beginning to discover the advantages of the semantic web. "Yet the potential payoff—a Web that acts like a single giant database—would be worth all the effort."

DC-2002: Metadata for e-Communities: Supporting Diversity and Convergence
This Dublin Core conference will deal with e-Government, search engines and metadata, the Semantic Web and improving communication with educational metadata.

The Languages of the Semantic Web
Readable and concise overview of the practical applications of the semantic web. "Even though this next-generation Web has yet to become a reality, much of the current work on the Semantic Web centers on a variety of technologies that are already in widespread, practical use."

A Metadata Approach to Preservation of Digital Resources: The University of North Texas Libraries' Experience
Extensive essay that outlines a project to preserve digital assets, with an emphasis on preservation metadata.

SCORM 1.3 development update.
Following plugfest 6, Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL), the custodians of the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM), revealed a few more details of what will be included in the SCORM version 1.3 application profile.

UK learning and skills council report on elearning released
The Distributed and Electronic Learning Group (DELG) has published a final report into the role of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) in relation to e-learning. The report was commissioned by the LSC.

5th Educational Content SIG Meeting

IMS releases public draft version 1.0 of the Digital Repositories Interoperability specification.
The Digital Repositories Interoperability (DRI) spec allows Managed Learning System (MLE) users to search, gather and expose various learning objects that are stored in repositories. It also allows people to submit, store and request them, and the resources delivered. And all of this from a spec that doesn't actually specify very much.

New UK governmental e-learning standards body proposed.
An initiative to set up a new e-learning standards conformance authority for the UK has been launched. The authority's remit would consist of the drawing up of application profiles that are based on a core of international e-learning interoperability specifications and the testing of applications' conformance to these profiles.

PROMETEUS Conference
The Prometeus conference in Paris has two major aims: 'Improving Learning through Technology' and 'Opportunities for All'.

Dublin Core Metadata anounces new usage documents
The Dublin Core Metada Initiative (DCMI) anounced a new set of usage documents that will incorporate the recent changes to the way DCMI handles new additions to the namespaces it maintains.

Your content in DSpace.
MIT and HP are working together on a new content repository system. The idea is that large numbers of research institutes will federate all the data that they currently hold locally and make it available online.

IMS outline future plans at London meeting
At a meeting of vendors in London organised by JISC, Colin Smythe of IMS outlined some of the specification consortium's plans for the coming year, including recommendation on transport protocols, and a brand new content specification.

ALT Workshop 'Using XML for Educational Content Management'

DCMI release new XML Schema proposal for Dublin Core metadata specification
The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) have released a proposed new XML Schema for Qualified Dublin Core metadata.

2nd Workshop on the Open Archives Initiative (OAI): "Gaining independence with e-prints archives and OAI"
This workshop wants to guide individuals and institutions interested in pursuing open-access solutions for scholarly communication initiatives through the process of conceiving, implementing and maintaining an e-print archive or OAI-compliant repository.

OCLC/SCURL conference ' New Directions in MetaData'

Fourth Meeting of the CETIS Metadata SIG

Open Archives Initiative release version 2.0 of the Metadata Harvesting Protocol
The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) has published the second major release of their protocol for harvesting metadata from digital repositories.

CanCore produce survey of learning object metadata implementations
CanCore, the producers of a profile of IMS Metadata for use in Canada, have released a survey of metadata implementations. The survey covers application profiles (like CanCore itself), metadata creation tools, and repositories.

The Next Stage - Moving From Isolated Digital Collections to Interoperable Digital Libraries
Article on digital repositories interoperability - with a heavy slant towards metadata. From OLDaily.

OAI release beta version of metadata harvesting protocol
The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) has released a beta version of the next major release of their Protocol for Metadata Harvesting.

Who said that? Metadata, trust, and the Semantic Web
A new paper from researchers in Stockholm looks to the future of metadata in eLearning, and in particular the next-generation Semantic Web proposed by Tim Berners-Lee and others. But to get there we need to past some of our preconceptions about metadata - like the idea that learning object metadata can ever be objective.

CanCore release new metadata guidelines
CanCore, the Canadian metadata profile, has two new documents providing guidelines on how to use the Lifecycle and General element groupings in the IMS Metadata specification.

Content Packaging interoperability tests reveal room for improvement
The CETIS Educational Content Special Interest Group (EC-SIG) recently carried out a set of interoperability experiments to see how well different tools handled IMS Content Packages.

Open Archives Initiative to release new Metadata Harvesting specification
The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) has announced that Version 2.0 of the Metadata Harvesting Protocol will be released on June 1st, 2002.

University of Michigan unearths digital 'pearls' with OAIster
The University of Michigan has begun work on a project to make previously difficult-to-access digital resources easily available - and the project will use the metadata harvesting specification produced by the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) to make it happen.

Third Meeting of CETIS Metadata SIG
The focus of this meeting will be on how to support the community through guide material.

ePrints release update of free self-archiving software
ePrints, the self-archiving software that uses the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) metadata-harvesting standards, has a new version released this month.

Open Archives Initiative gathers momentum
The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) have announced new features for Version 2 of its Metadata Harvesting Protocol, while adoption of the existing protocol has been boosted by a new JISC program.

Re-inventing the Wheel? Standards, Interoperability, and Digital Cultural Content
Interesting item by Tony Gill and UKOLN's Paul Miller in D-Lib Magazine.

Dublin Core education group propose qualifier for 'Audience' metadata element
The education working group of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) have proposed a new qualifier for the 'Audience' element for the Dublin Core Metatada Element Set DCMES)

Tools for implementors
A good way to get an understanding of standards and specifications in eLearning is to try using them - and for that you need some tools to work with. Thankfully, there are other universities and colleges doing exactly the same thing, and have built their own toolkits you can use to get you started.

JISC to fund standards-compliant tools and services as part of X4L programme
The UK's Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) has issued a call for proposals under its Exchange For Learning (X4L) programme, including development of tools that support specifications such as IMS and SCORM.

Microsoft release LRN 3.0 Toolkit, supporting IMS Content Packaging, IMS Metadata and SCORM
Microsoft has released a new Toolkit for working with content packages and metadata, and initial reactions by users have been very positive.

Dublin Core release new RDF binding
The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) have released a new version of the RDF binding for both Simple and Qualified Dublin Core metadata.

University of Glasgow release IMS report
A report entitled "Testing IMS in Real Contexts: Implementing IMS Specifications, Implications and Best Practice" has been published by the University of Glasgow.

IMS release Content Packaging, Metadata errata updates
IMS Global Learning Consortium have released two minor updates to their Content Packaging and Metadata specifications to correct minor schema discrepancies and other bugs.

Repositories open up to web crawlers
A new gateway service allows web crawlers – the programs that index web pages for search engine sites like Google – to access metadata in repositories that implement the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) protocol.

New IMS Content Package Editor update
The University of Edinburgh have released version 1.1 of their IMS Content Package Editor.

CEN/ISSS Issue 'eBrochure' on European standards activities
The CEN/ISSS Learning Technology Workshop has issued the first in a series of 'eBrochures' on the subject of learning technology standards.

IMS Open Technical Forum
IMS Open event at Palo Alto, California.

Giunti announce new learning content management platform with strong emphasis on standards
Italian publisher Giunti Interactive Labs have announced a new learning content management system (LCMS) conforming to IMS, SCORM, and other specifications.

Gluing learning applications together with SOAP
In our previous article on architectures for learning systems we talked about some of the ways that different standards-compliant programs could be connected using "services". In this article we look at what kinds of services we might use in education systems and take a more detailed look at SOAP, one of the technologies that may be used to implement them.

IMS Metadata 1.2.1 released
IMS has released version 1.2.1 of its metadata specification. This point release is designed to correct "minor discrepancies between element descriptions in [the information model document] and the IMS Meta-Data XML Binding."

Dublin Core becomes ANSI standard
NISO, the National Information Standards Organization and the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) have announced the approval by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) of the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (Z39.85-2001).

ADL release SCORM v1.2
The Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Co-Laboratory have released version 1.2 of SCORM, the reference specification for sharable content objects for learning. The new release incorporates IMS Content Packaging and IEEE Learning Object Metadata.

The semantic web: How RDF will change learning technology standards
The field of learning technology has entered a phase of intense work on standardization of learning technology descriptions of various kinds. Most of the work so far has focused on XML as the encoding language for such specifications (e.g. IMS, IEEE-LOM and SCORM).

However, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is putting their energy into another model for computerized descriptions, called Resource Description Framework, RDF, which is the foundation for the Semantic Web vision of Tim Berners-Lee.

This raises important question regarding the future of learning technologies: In what way might RDF be useful for learning technology specifications? In what sense does RDF represent the future of meta-data, and how does this affect learning technology?

The next wave: CETIS interviews Mikael Nilsson about the Edutella project
We are in the midst, it seems, of a quiet revolution in computing. The technologies that built the internet, with its giant server farms and gigabyte databases, are giving way to a new wave of distributed technologies. After the furore over music network Napster dies down, we are seeing a new generation of projects in the education field taking up the peer-to-peer challenge of building distributed, "democratic" learning technology. One of the most interesting new projects out there is Edutella, an attempt to create a distributed web for learning metadata making use of emerging standards. We talked to Mikael Nilsson about the project, and what the future holds.

Dublin Core provide RDF binding
The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) have released two new documents describing how Dublin Core metadata elements can be used with the Resource Description Framework (RDF).

New vocabulary for describing educational audiences from a UK perspective
The Metadata for Education Group (MEG) has produced a new draft document that provides a comparison of different education schemes in the UK, making it easier to classify the educational level of learning resources for UK practitioners.

Digital repositories: IMS releases white paper
The IMS Global Learning Consortium has published a white paper on digital repositories for learning objects and other assets. The paper, by the IMS Digital Repositories working group, describes the digital repositories "problem space", and takes a look at some of the implementations of repositories from around the world.

IMS Meta-data, Content Packaging & Enterprise: An advanced technology course
Course from IMS giving an in-depth explanation of the key IMS specifications that support the exchange of content and course information.

IMS Meta-data, Content Packaging & Enterprise: An introductory course
An introductory course by IMS on specifications that support the exchange of content and course information.

Macromedia announces availability of eLearning Studio, Authorware 6
Macromedia's latest eLearning content development solutions, offering compliance with ADL, IMS and AICC specifications, are now available for purchase.

New SCORM release will incorporate IMS specifications
The Advanced Distributed Learning Network (ADL) is due to release a new version of the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) in the next few weeks, incorporating two IMS specifications.

Click2Learn unveils Aspen
Click2Learn have released the Aspen Enterprise Learning Platform, what it is heralding as "the industry's first comprehensive and unified e-Learning infrastructure".

Standards bodies face call for more language codes
The standard language taxonomies used widely today are coming under increasing criticism from a number of industries. Existing schemes support only a fraction of the languages and dialects in use around the world, which poses a problem for many applications, including learning technology.

IMS Meta-data, Content Packaging & Enterprise: An introductory course
Course for managers and users on IMS metadata, content packaging and enterprise.

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.

EU Open Consultation on technology-supported learning
Workshop for the EU Open Consultation process to discuss the Research and Policy challenges and priorities in the area of "technology supported learning". The aim of the Workshop is to animate the discussion among the participants on the topics of the Consultation.

Dublin Core releases draft of government metadata extensions
The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) has revealed its proposed set of extensions to its metadata standard.

The next big thing? Three architectural frameworks for learning technologies
A key event at the IMS symposium in Ottawa on August 2001 was a panel on Architectural Frameworks. Representatives from IMS, MIT’s Open Knowledge Initiative, and Carnegie Mellon University put forward three ways that learning systems of the future could be designed.

CanCore strip down IMS metadata specification for easier implementation
In a speech by Norm Friesen at the IMS e-Learning Specifications and Standards Symposium, CanCore outlined their stripped-down version of the IMS metadata specification.

IMS Working Groups Report Progress
The symposium provided IMS with an opportunity to report on the progress made on specifications by its working groups.

CeLT announces new content packaging tool
The Centre For Learning Technology (CeLT) announced this week that they will release PackageIt!, a new IMS-compliant content packaging tool in the coming months.

Macromedia releases eLearning Studio with support for LT standards
Macromedia, creators of popular web content creation tools Dreamweaver and Flash, today announced the release of eLearning Studio. The new package combines version 6 of learning content creation tool Authorware with Dreamweaver 4 and Flash 5, and claims support for ADL, AICC and IMS standards.

CETIS special interest groups meet in Bangor
On the 23rd and 24th of July, representatives of the CETIS Special Interest Groups (SIGs) met at the University of Wales, Bangor. The meeting allowed SIGs to report on what has been happening in their areas of interest, and to discuss ideas with other CETIS members.

CETIS Workshop at ALT-C 2001
On Monday 10 September CETIS will be holding a one day pre-conference workshop at the ALT-C 2001 conference in Edinburgh.

IMS, ADL and MIT agree to work together
On July 11, 2001 - Leaders of the MIT's Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI), the Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab (ADL), and the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS) issued a joint press release announcing their intention to cooperate to "close the gap between innovative pedagogical technology and production learning resources."

MIT and the Open Courseware Initiative
MIT make their materials freely available and begin to develop Open Source tools for learning.

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