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News & Press: Colorado Technology Industry

Workshop Spotlights Latest LRMI...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Maggie Reber-Wynn
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There’s a certain feeling in the room when people gather at an LRMI workshop. Maybe it’s the camaraderie of being with kindred spirits who appreciate the power of metadata. Maybe it’s the excitement of being in on the "ground floor” of a movement with the potential to have a major impact on education worldwide.

That excitement was clearly evident at the LRMI’s latest workshop, held September 22 in Denver, Colorado, just prior to the EdNET conference. "It is not often you get such a diverse number of presenters discussing the importance and caveats of the LRMI initiative,” said Mike Danahy, Network Operations Center Director, Educational Service Unit #12, Fremont, Nebraska. "Being able to get feedback from experienced educational professionals during the tagging activity was an invaluable experience we will carry back to our state and share.”

LRMI Project Manager Dave Gladney opened the workshop by presenting a brief history of the initiative. Then Michael Jay of Educational Systemics gave an insightful overview of why the LRMI is vital to educational content providers—both commercial and OER—in today’s world. Access slides from their presentation here.

Terence Fitzgerald of McGraw-Hill Education noted that commercial publishers today are competing with the entire resources of the Internet and need to demonstrate that they are delivering results that are worth paying for. While many publishers recognize the inherent importance of tagging their materials to the LRMI specification, convincing them to allocate the resources necessary to implement tagging sometimes can be challenging. He cited three specific ways using a standard system of metadata tagging can influence the bottom line:

1) by improving exchange of data and reducing conversion cost;

2) by enhancing accessibility to data; and

3) by helping us answer questions such as "What is the best way to use and re-use data?” and "How do we deliver the right content to the right person at the right time?”

Sue Buesing of McHugh & Associates focused on standards alignment. She noted that alignment used to be a marketing tool—publishers would try to demonstrate broad coverage touching on as many standards as possible. Now the focus is on discover ability—using alignment to locate resources connected to the specific needs of students and teachers. "If you don’t tag correctly, you do more damage than good,” Buesing said.

Buesing noted that a search of "fractions” yields tens of millions of results on various search engines. "The problem is time and the number of resources that are out there and how do I find the right ones,” she said. The Common Core State Standards, coupled with LRMI tagging, can help solve this problem. Buesing discussed the alignment property in the LRMI and demonstrated how tagging would work with a specific resource.

Lisa McLaughlin of ISKME and Tim Farquer of the WIlliamsfield School District in Illinois focused on professional development and accessibility issues. McLaughlin described the iPD Metadata Project, an effort to bring a structured descriptive metadata framework to professional development materials and services. She also talked about the Accessibility (A11Y) Project, an initiative to improve web accessibility for people with disabilities. View her slides here. Farquer talked about leveraging the power of the LRMI through the Illinois Shared Learning Environment (ISLE), which aims to enable personalized learning through open and accessible technologies.

Next, Julianne Blomer of the National Center for Atmospheric Research gave an update on the work of the National Science Digital Library. The NSDL, which has spent more than a decade aggregating STEM educational resources, is currently working to map its frameworks to the LRMI.

After lunch, Sue Cowden and Jason Hoekstra of inBloom, Thor Prichard of Clarity Innovations, and Jim Klo of SRI International discussed various aspects of how the LRMI works with the Learning Registry. Cowden presented a slide illustrating the inBloom Published Cycle. First, educational content that is tagged to LRMI and the Common Core State Standards is published into the Learning Registry. The Learning Registry Index, meanwhile, catalogs and makes accessible all resource data stored in the Learning Registry. Users can then add information about how they have used these resources. That information (called paradata) becomes available to future users, adding to the value of the system. Hoekstra described current and soon-to-be-released LRI Exemplar tools, including a Learning Maps Authoring tool, a Tagger tool, and Search and Browser Tools, as well as a Publisher Tool Kit. Click here to see slides from this session.

Prichard said his company is working with LRMI leaders to set up Learning Registry sandboxes where publishers can practice and test using metadata tags within a private node. The goal, Prichard added, is to give publishers enough comfort to incorporate tagging into their internal workflow processes. They can, if they wish, also make their Learning Registry node available to the public.

Klo noted that the Learning Registry is not a destination—it’s not a website, search engine, or repository—rather, it’s more like a messaging system to store and forward data, and it can serve as the "backbone” for the exchange of data. The Learning Registry can power "the social life of learning resources,” added Klo. He also talked about recent updates to the Learning Registry, including the ability to publish updates or deletions. Such updates promise to further extend the benefits of the registry, both to content providers and users. View slides from his presentation here.

The workshop concluded with its trademark hands-on tagging activity, which allowed teams of participants to examine various learning resources and discuss how they should be tagged and at what level of granularity. The resulting discussions clearly demonstrated that tagging is both an art and science.

Participants left the workshop feeling both inspired and energized. The team from Nebraska is exploring ways of using metadata tagging to support personalized learning throughout the state. "Attendance at this conference-working session will not only save us valuable time, but will better enable us to move forward as we work into an adaptive learning environment,” concluded Danahy.

SOURCE: Learning Resource Metadata blog (

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