03 November 2011

The Learning Resource Metadata Initiative

Try this: Browse to Google's Homepage and search for a recipe. Given the season, try "Pumpkin Pie." On the left the Recipe Search Bar automatically appears because Google sensed that a lot of the matches were recipes. Now you can narrow the list by selecting those that do have maple syrup but don't include amaretto since it's missing from your spice cabinet. There are also options to select for cooking time and calories.

Now, suppose teachers and students had the same kind of facilitation for their searches. This week I was experimenting with AdWords and discovered that 246,000 people searched for "right triangle." (many of them probably teachers) and 60,500 people searched for "triangle calculator" (most likely students). Wouldn't it be cool if such searches resulted in a Learning Search Bar that let you choose between videos, activities and lesson plans; or that let you target a particular age group or find resources for students with specific disabilities? Indeed, there were 880 searches for "math for the blind."

That's the idea behind the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative. In June, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft jointly announced Schema.org. This is a common metadata vocabulary for describing things like blog posts, audio recordings, organizations, places, news articles and things for sale. Then they encouraged industry-specific consortia to submit extensions to the vocabulary. So, we formed LRMI to represent the education industry.

It's an amazing group. Co-funded by the Hewlett and Gates foundations and co-sponsored by Creative Commons and the Association of Educational Publishers the team has representatives from major educational publishers as well as OER repositories. The technical working group involves a cross section of educators and metadata experts. We're making excellent progress and are on schedule to solicit public comments on a draft specification starting in December.

Before long, the search for quality learning materials on the web will become much easier.

1 comment :

Kristen said...

I think this is really cool! What a powerful tool good information can be if you can find it!

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