Following the HEFCE / JISC / Academy OER Programme Community Briefing day at the end of January I blogged about the programme’s technical and metadata requirements. The successful OER projects haven’t even been announced yet and we’re already receiving enquiries asking for clarification on the resource description requirements briefly outlined.
In line with the innovative pilot nature of the OER Programme JISC have decided to take a new approach to metadata. Rather than mandating a formal application profile based on a single open standard we are instead identifying the type of information that projects must record for the resources they create without mandating how this should be done. Hopefully this will give projects considerably greater flexibility as to how they describe their resources and ultimately we hope that this will result in richer descriptions that are of value to end users. However we do recognise that this freer approach is likely to have some impact on interoperability. We hope to learn a lot from this pilot regarding what works and what doesn’t and where the balance between formal and informal metadata lies.
We can’t provide definitive answers to all the questions that are likely to arise but here are some draft guidelines as a starting point.
All mandated metadata relates to the resource being described and not to the description of the resource.
Programme tag ukoer
All resources produced as a result of the HEFCE/Academy/JISC OER Programme must be tagged ukoer. Many applications provide a mechanism for adding such tags, however we need to consider how this tag may also be accommodated within LOM and DC metadata.
The title of the resource being described.
Author / owner / contributor (from user profile)
Most systems, be they repositories, vles or applications such as SlideShare, YouTube, etc allow registered users to create a user profile detailing their name and other relevant details. When a user uploads a resource to such a system these details are usually associated with the resource.
This is difficult to define in the context of open educational resources which have no formal publication date. Most applications are likely to record the date a resource is uploaded but it will also be important to record date of creation so users can judge the currency of a resource.
Metadata must include a url that locates the resource being described. This is not as straightforward as it sounds as there are likely to be multiple copies of resources in multiple locations.
Includes file format, file size and other relevant information. Many applications will generate this information automatically.
The language of the resource.
JISC will not mandate the use of specific subject classifications for the OER Programme. However projects are recommended to use subject classifications that are already being used by their subject and domain communities. JACS is one such example of a subject classification that is widely used in the UK F/HE community. It is not recommended that projects attempt to create new subject classification vocabularies. Further guidance on working with vocabularies will be provided.
May be selected from controlled vocabularies or may be free text.
Tags are similar to keywords. They may be entered by the creator /publisher of a resource and by users of the resource and they are normally free text. Many applications such as flickr, SlideShare and YouTube support the use of tags.
Are usually generated by users of a resource and may describe how that resource has been used, in what context and whether it’s use was successful or otherwise.
In contrast to comments, descriptions are usually generated by the creator/ publisher of a resource and tend to be more authoritative. Descriptions may provide a wide range of additional information about a resource including information on how it may be used or repurposed.
These guidelines are likely to change and develop as the OER Programme progresses and we learn more about issues specifically relating to the description of open educational resources in distributed environments. If you have any comments on these draft guidelines please feel free to comment here or va the CETIS Metadata SIG list at firstname.lastname@example.org.