I’ve made some noise here and there about the value of meta-data, not that I do not believe it in it nor do I think it does not exist, but mainly, I have yet to see the applied use beyond searching. Out of last week’s NMC Spring 2004 Online Conference, someone asked me, “Well doesn’t the Maricopa Learning eXchange have meta-data?”

Heck yes, the MLX Packing slip metaphor is meta-data, we just do not make a big deal about it or even identify it as such. For that matter, just about any system that is built on a database has its own unique meta-data in the fields that make up the database.

So what?

So just for grins and because Monday was quiet, I spent about 45 minutes creating Dublin Core XML.RDF meta data representations of all 800+ items in the MLX. I think.

Well, I did not have to do it 800 times, just one new template. Each MLX packing slip has way down on the bottom, a link to its meta-data in Dublinc Core format. Or simply, you can take any MLX URL such as:

http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/mlx/slip.php?item=127

and modify the URL to see the lovely DC XML data (differences shown in bold):

http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/mlx/slip_dc.php?item=127

I had a nice iChat across the seas to David Davies, and he suggested the notion of embedding the DC descriptors in the MLX RSS feeds. This would be trivial since we already use an RSS 1.0 generator, and I can add dc: tags to the output. Actually a few are in the already, namely:
<dc:subject>…</dc:subject> <dc:creator>…</dc:creator> <dc:date>…</dc:date>

But I am still wondering, why the #$&* I would do this- as most people using RSS now are engulfed in a world only needing title, link, and description data.

I spent the bulk of the morning trying to get an implementation up of an OAI harvester script, which in theory would allows some great huge monolithic learning object entity to include our puny little collection in their federated searches. I am close, although it involved creating a duplicate data table to run the cross-over from the MLX data structure to the fields this OAI implementor requires (without diving in and re-writing their query code).

If anyone has a readable copy of Thick Headed Lunkers Guide to Meta Data For Totally Idiotic People (the version that has acronyms spelled out), I will pay a premium price for it.

The post "MLX Has Dublin Core Metadata, Now What?" was originally cracked open and scrambled from a rotten egg at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2004/03/mlx-has/) on March 15, 2004.

2 Comments

  • Alan, metadata beyond the holy trinity of title, description and URL could become important when semi-automated LCMS’ are able to pre-assemble learning objects for you based upon some parameters you provide (such as what subject you’re interested in, what learning outcomes you’re trying to fulfil, what type of course you’re on, etc). I say ‘could’ because there aren’t many proofs of this as a concept yet, but it’s a logical extension of present LCMS’ that are already handling (and aggregating) our learning objects for us. For example, if I had a virtual tutor presenting a simulated patient case to me as part of a medical course, an intelligent LCMS could swap out certain learning objects, such as a patient demographic, and swap in an alternate object. Let’s say for example that cultural differences required us to swap a female patient for a male, but the subject of the case remains the same (e.g obesity). An LCMS connected to a repository with suitable metatagged learning objects would know how to swap the male patient for the female, replacing the various assets such as photos, video clips, etc.

    We’re building this kind of virtual tutor by the way so it’s not simply a thought experiment.

  • Hi Alan,

    While not using your exact title ;-) , the organisation I used to work for, CETIS, has produced something like the guide you are asking for (and it’s free!)… go to:

    http://metadata.cetis.ac.uk/guides/

    and click on the file “Draft Guide to Metadata”. It’s a couple of years old now and they never got round to making the draft a final version, but I just scanned it and it is still useful I think.

    CETIS is the UK goverment-funded organisation “Centre for Educational Technology Interoperability Standards”, and the Draft Guide was produced by one of their Special Interest Groups (SIGs)- the Metadata and Digital Repositories SIG. The CETIS & SIGs sites contain a wealth of information for folks coming at the interoperability thing from all angles (teacher, manager, techie, librarian), the SIG Coordinators (of which I used to be one) are extremely helpful and responsive, and the SIG email lists give you access to feedback and discussion from an international community of people with similar problems and issues.

    I’m now working for a digital repository project in higher education, and I have responsibility for metadata issues- we’ve linked to your blog from ours, so check it out folks (early days yet):

    http://storcuram.blogs.com/weblog/

    Bye for now

    Sarah

    *******************************************

    Ms. Sarah Currier

    Librarian, Stˆör CÀòram Project

    “A Storehouse of Learning Resources for Social Care”

    Dept. of Social Work, University of Strathclyde

    c/o: Centre for Academic Practice, University of Strathclyde

    Graham Hills Building, 50 George Street

    Glasgow G1 1QE, Scotland, United Kingdom

    Web: http://storcuram.blogs.com/weblog/

    Stˆör CÀòram is Gaelic for Storehouse of Care

    *******************************************