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Information Professionals and Learning Object Repositories … more than just metadata quality … Sarah Currier Stòr Cùram Project Librarian JISC X4L Repository.

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Presentation on theme: "Information Professionals and Learning Object Repositories … more than just metadata quality … Sarah Currier Stòr Cùram Project Librarian JISC X4L Repository."— Presentation transcript:

1 Information Professionals and Learning Object Repositories … more than just metadata quality … Sarah Currier Stòr Cùram Project Librarian JISC X4L Repository Workshop, Telford College, Edinburgh, 16 th April 2004

2 2 Thinking about LO repositories & libraries… what’s the difference? LO repositories are devices for storing resources, to enable use of these resources. They hold collections of resources on behalf of communities who wish to use them. Everything a library needs to do, a repository also needs to do, and then some …

3 3 And what do libraries need to do? Collect resources Catalogue resources Store resources Make resources available to users Support users in their use of the library Help users find resources wherever they are located

4 4 And what do repositories need to do? Collect resources – find LOs, encourage deposit of LOs by user community, quality assurance of LOs Catalogue resources – metadata (standards, application profiles, vocabularies, forms and templates, workflow, who creates it?, secondary metadata) Store resources - sustainability & archiving? Make resources available to users - technical standards for interoperability & reuse (e.g. IMS Content Packaging); digital rights management; user interfaces Support users in their use of the library - user interfaces; training; information literacy Help users find resources wherever they are located – cross- searches, sharing metadata

5 5 How can information professionals help? Collect resources – find LOs, encourage deposit of LOs by user community, quality assurance of resources Catalogue resources – metadata (standards, application profiles, vocabularies, forms and templates, workflow, who creates it?, secondary metadata) Store resources - sustainability & archiving? Make resources available to users - technical standards for interoperability & reuse (e.g. IMS Content Packaging); digital rights management; user interfaces Support users in their use of the library - user interfaces; training; information literacy Help users find resources wherever they are located – cross- searches, sharing metadata

6 6 How can information professionals help? Collect resources – find LOs, quality assurance of LOs – collection development policy Catalogue resources – metadata (standards, application profiles, vocabularies, forms and templates, workflow, who creates it?) – ‘nuff said? – more to come Store resources - archiving? – digital preservation Make resources available to users - digital rights management; user interfaces – valuable experience in all these areas… Support users in their use of the library - user interfaces; training; information literacy – as above Help users find resources wherever they are located – cross- searches, sharing metadata – and again

7 7 Metadata quality- a good place to start Metadata is “data that describes other data” – CETIS Reference Section … like a traditional or MARC catalogue record … usually refers to online materials

8 8 Why is metadata important? Metadata is a powerful tool that enables the user to discover and retrieve relevant materials quickly and easily Poor quality or no metadata means resources remain invisible and unused Particularly when LOs are involved LOs will be in a variety of formats, not just text!

9 9 Isn’t all this obvious? Not in the e-learning community! “Whatever the properties, the authoring of metadata itself will be straightforward for most course designers. Because metadata files are machine-writable, authors will simply access a form into which they enter the appropriate metadata information.” – Downes, 2001.

10 10 Isn’t all this obvious? Not in the e-learning community! … because (some erroneous assumptions) in the context of the culture of the Internet, mediation by controlling authorities is detrimental and undesirable; rigorous metadata creation is too time-consuming and costly, a barrier in an arena where the supposed benefits include savings in time, effort and cost; only authors and/or users of learning materials have the necessary knowledge or expertise to create metadata that will be meaningful to their colleagues; given a standard metadata structure, metadata content can be generated or resolved by machine; … and, it’s boring and tedious and nothing to do with teaching & learning!

11 11 Isn’t all this obvious? Not in the e-learning community! … because (some erroneous assumptions) in the context of the culture of the Internet, mediation by controlling authorities is detrimental and undesirable We think: “Librarians provide access to resources” Some people in education think: “Librarians control access to resources” Which is true? If both are true to some extent, in e-learning we have to make sure we can demonstrate our ability and commitment to the first statement, and not deny, but learn from, the experience people have had which causes the second.

12 12 Isn’t all this obvious? Not in the e-learning community! … because (some erroneous assumptions) rigorous metadata creation is too time-consuming and costly, a barrier in an arena where the supposed benefits include savings in time, effort and cost There is an emerging debate, and early evidence to support the case for developing cost-benefit analysis of different approaches to metadata creation, workflow and management. See handout & recent paper (Currier et a., 2004).

13 13 Isn’t all this obvious? Not in the e-learning community! … because (some erroneous assumptions) only authors and/or users of learning materials have the necessary knowledge or expertise to create metadata that will be meaningful to their colleagues What about: error management; the big picture (e.g. subject classification consistency across collections); metadata creation as a highly skilled and time-consuming task- do teachers really want to do it?; specialised areas such as accessibility and DRM… etc., etc. So- how to utilise the knowledge of resource authors and turn it into conformant metadata for resource description and discovery?

14 14 Isn’t all this obvious? Not in the e-learning community! … because (some erroneous assumptions) given a standard metadata structure, metadata content can be generated or resolved by machine LOs as a type of resource cross all the boundaries of format: images, simulations, videos, etc., not just swathes of text…they can also be lacking in the kind of publication data that other resources may provide…

15 15 Isn’t all this obvious? Not in the e-learning community! … because (some erroneous assumptions) … and, it’s boring and tedious and nothing to do with teaching & learning! Yep. So why not work with information specialists, who think it’s fun, to ensure effective use of everyone’s skills, knowledge and expertise?

16 16 A final note of caution We don’t yet know much about how users will use these LO repositories, or even if they will develop as we now think of them- so we need to be flexible, user-centred and evidence-based in our approach. The information community has its own assumptions – we need to approach the e-learning tribe willing first of all to learn from them about their priorities and needs. (See Pockley, 2004 for an insightful discussion into the “poetics of metadata”)


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