The last of my January reviews of the main projects that I am working on is about Learning Resource Metadata, which is the theme that I have been working on for the longest. One of my first jobs in learning technology was maintaining and publishing a catalogue of computer-based resources that were useful for teaching Physics at university. That was back in 1994, and some of my work was still around when the Internet Archive started indexing. Since then I have been through several more online learning resource guides, and got involved in standards for learning resource metadata through the CETIS Metadata Special Interest Group, IEEE LOM / IMS Learning Resource Metadata, DCMI Education Community, and LRMI. LRMI is still going and that is what this blog post is about.
One of the most exciting recent developments has been that through the IEEE P2881 Learning Metadata Working Group LRMI—and more importantly the approach it embodies, as described below—is being incorporated in formal standards.
About the work
LRMI exists as an RDF vocabulary of terms (properties, classes and concept schemes) that can be used with terms from other vocabularies to describe learning resources. The LRMI vocabulary is declared as equivalent properties and classes in Dublin Core namespace and in Schema.org (mostly under Learning Resource). There are classes, properties and, in the Dublin Core namespace, concept schemes providing broad, top-level controlled vocabularies / value enumerations for some of the properties.
While we have done some technical work over the last year or so (notably creating a concept scheme for Learning Resource Type, and adding German translations to the published concept schemes) the main thrust of the current work is focused on promotion and dissemination. A major part of our effort currently underway is setting up to gather information about who is using LRMI, how they are using it, so that we can create documentation based on current real life examples.
Application Profiles are key to understanding how the LRMI vocabulary may be used. Application Profiles allow the “mixing and matching” of terms from different base vocabularies, and the overlay of additional rules or other information for how the terms are to be used in a specific application—see my previous posts on DCMI Tabular Application Profiles for more about how we do that. The LRMI terms focus on the educational aspects of any form of learning resource (text book, instructional video, web-based or face to face course, V/AR, podcast…), and are designed to supplement other vocabularies designed to describe any general resource of a similar form. So the idea is that you would select the terms from whatever vocabularies best describe the form that your learning resource takes, be it book, video, web site, event etc., and then use the LRMI properties to describe the educational characteristics.
This approach is at the root of that taken by the IEEE P2881 Working Group (described here). That work is not aiming to replace IEEE 1484.12.1 Standard for Learning Object Metadata (LOM), but to provide an RDF-based alternative for uses where the flexibility of RDF is beneficial. The current draft in progress is an application profile based mostly on LRMI terms (from the DCMI namespace) and Dublin Core Terms.
About my role
About twelve years ago I was mostly done with metadata. I was more interested in Open Education Resources (OERs) and how discoverability was supported by having the full text on open view. But then, along came schema.org. Andy Powell asked what would it be necessary to add to the metadata understood by Google in order to adequately describe an OER. That approach was very much in line with the DCMI Education an UKOER metadata line of thinking, so I wrote a blog post in reply. Then, when the LRMI project got funding and was asking for input, I used that blog post to lever my way into the advisory group. And my involvement kind of grew from there. I now chair the Dublin Core LRMI Working Group, which is tasked with maintaining and advocating for the use of the LRMI vocabulary, and I represent the work in other fora, such as IEEE P2881.