LRMI Metadata Initiative to Help Organize Web Resouces for Education

As educators increasingly turn to web-based resources and more schools choose to put portions of their curriculum online, both parents and schools are having difficulty navigating education's digital seas. According to Debra Donston-Miller of Information Week, the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) has developed a new education-focused specification called the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) that can help those involved in education organize and use online content.

As teaching and learning move more and more online, Web-based resources are in increasing demand. The challenge is finding the right content: For what age group is it designed? Does it align with current standards? What mode of learning does it address? It can be confusing for educators and students alike to find what they are looking for or — even more importantly — to discover what they didn't even know was out there.

Michael Jay, president of Educational Systemics, told InformationWeek Education that there have been several specifications over the years designed to help define educational resources, but they have tended to be "rather pedantic."

Working at Apple on several education initiatives, Jay, who is former science teacher, has designed technology that indicates the relationship among curriculum, standards and resources. Jay and his organization have been working with the Association of Educational Publishers on proofs-of-concept for LRMI.

Co-led by the Association of Educational Publishers and Creative Commons and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the LRMI comprises a common metadata framework for tagging learning resources on the Web.

The LRMI's common metadata framework for describing or tagging learning resources on the Web is a key first step in developing a richer, more fruitful search experience for educators and learners. Once a critical mass of educational content has been tagged to a universal framework, it becomes much easier to parse and filter that content, opening up tremendous possibilities for search and delivery.

LRMI identifies not only content but how it is used. "LRMI includes items like educational use — type of activity, whether it is experiential in its nature, resource type, what kind of media is being used, etc.," said Jay, who added that this level of detail will help educators personalize instruction.

The LRMI development began in 2011 and was officially adopted two months ago by, on whose work the LRMI is based. Jay also said that the organization behind LRMI is "reaching outside of the United States to see how this can be adopted internationally." The LRMI will also be helpful for the increasing number of non-native English speakers in U.S. classrooms, he added.

The LRMI's work has been focused on K-12, but the organization is working to determine how to further engage the higher ed community.

In addition, the LRMI project announced that it will publish a monthly newsletter, LRMI Update, to keep the education community up to date with the latest LRMI news. The free newsletter, which will be distributed on the second Wednesday of each month, will include links to recent LRMI blog posts and information about upcoming LRMI-related informational events.

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