The other day, I was researching a bit on available standards that can be used to describe e-books. I found myself looking at the MLR (Metadata for Learning Resources) and the LRMI (Learning Resource Metadata Initiative). I found some interesting resources online but only a handful of blogposts that could help someone that faces the similar problem I am facing, so I decided to blog about it (as usual!).
First things first, MLR is a multi-standard prepared by subcommittee SC36 of the Joint Technical Committee ISO/IEC JTC1, Information Technology for Learning, Education and Training (source) that can be retrieved here (btw, it’s nice that you have to pay for a standard that fosters interoperability and openness, right?). Despite that, the MLR is actually an international standard for the biggest part (some parts pending), so this is a huge plus.
If you’re one of those that like to know the origins of everything, take a look at this resource over here. It provides a nice history for IEEE LOM, Dublin Core and other related efforts and outlines how we reached MLR, through continuous deliberations and introductions of new elements, etc. Another useful presentation from my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Christian Stracke, can be found here, if you’re trying to understand the basics of MLR. Another interesting and noteworthy presentation can be found here.
What I really liked about MLR, was the logic behind its parts and how these connect to the overall standard. “Borrowing” the following slide from Christian who borrowed it from Gilles Gauthier! As you can see below, in the inner circle of the MLR approach lies the MLR-1 part (red) which is the framework, and along with it you have MLR-2 part which is the Dublin Core elements in MLR (blue), the MLR-3 part which is the basic application profile (yellow) and the MLR-7 part which is the bindings (green).
Then, in the next circle, you get all the elements that are fit for the specific purpose that you need your standard to be used for. So you have MLR-4 (technical elements), MLR-5 (educational elements) and however much MLR-n extensions you need. One of them, the yellow one, symbolizes the data elements that adhere to the IEEE LOM standard, ensuring the MLR compatibility.
On the other hand, as noted in this really nice blog post, the LRMI is being promoted by the major web search engines. Google, Bing and Yahoo support the use of LRMI. In this context, and especially Google and Bing have provided some advisory input related to schema.org, upon which LRMI builds. LRMI was initially led by Creative Commons (their LRMI page) and the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP, now part of the AAP) [credits for a significant edit to this part, to Mr. Phil Barker who was kind enough to contribute]. Also, a statement I retrieved online and was really interesting to me, reads: “It is the hope of the LRMI leadership that the metadata schema developed by this project will be incorporated into Schema.org and become the de facto standard for tagging educational resources on the web”. Based on existing elements provided in Schema.org, LRMI extends them to describe creative work, that is learning resources, using the additions that you may see here.
What I liked about the approach and the way it’s presented, was the LRMI implementations’ page on the website, hosting really useful information. And of course, if you like slides and useful presentations, there’s also this section here that hosts lots of them till mid-2014. A bonus item that comes highly recommended, is in the “Articles” section, and can be downloaded from here, just by providing your e-mail, free of charge. It contains all the information you need to know about Educational Technological Standards.
I have looked at other resources as well, trying to make up my mind between the two, but I am not going to bore you with more links. The overall feeling I get from MLR is that it’s more structured and more extensible than LRMI. As I see it, MLR could as well incorporate the LRMI approach among others. And on the other hand, I am a bit sceptical about an approach, that is supported by the market, that is Google, Bing, etc, with concerns about education that may be a bit superficial. I am not demonizing these companies that above all else, have helped a lot in shaping the present and the future of what we call the internet. I am just a bit skeptical and will opt for the proposal coming from an international standardization body (skipping the fact that they charge to download it) and that feels more inclusive, specific and rich than the other. I hope that I can get my hands on it without actually paying, which can be a decisive factor on whether or not we will be using it after all.
If you have any ideas and thoughts that you want to share, you’re free to do so in the comments’ section below (as always). I would love to hear your views on the above, as well as experiences coming from implementations.