There have been several specifications over the years designed to help define educational resources, but they have tended to be "rather pedantic," said Michael Jay, president of Educational Systemics, in an interview with InformationWeek Education. Formerly a science teacher, Jay worked at Apple on several education initiatives and has designed technology that indicates the relationship among curriculum, standards and resources. He and his organization have been working with the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) on proofs-of-concept for a new education-focused specification: the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI).
LRMI is not the only new spec designed to define educational resources. Other notable entries are the Learning Registry and Shared Learning Infrastructure. The Learning Registry, out of the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense, offers a structured index of digital educational content that can be presented in a visual map. The Shared Learning Infrastructure comes from the Council of Chief State School Officers and offers a cloud-based data warehouse.
[ Personalized education through data is the name of the education game. Learn how Big Data Helps Guide Colorado's Public Schools. ]
These and other specs are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, they can work together for more focused data identification. They are also being integrated into other initiatives, including InBloom, a student data integration platform.
Technology specialists at education institutions from K-12 on up through college and continuing ed need to keep these specifications on their radars, especially as requirements for state and federal standards and licensure requirements change to meet more rigorous education initiatives.
InformationWeek Education will continue to follow new specifications as they evolve. Here are seven things to know about LRMI.
1. Common Metadata
The 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 -- comprises a common metadata framework for tagging learning resources on the Web. Jay likens it to the nutritional details that are found on the food that we eat: "We use that all the time," he said. "[Likewise,] LRMI will help educators, parents and student be more informed consumers about content."
2. Not Just What, But How
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.
3. Adoption Phase
Development of the LRMI began in 2011. It was officially adopted two months ago by Schema.org, on whose work the LRMI is based.
4. Expanding Borders
With learning a global exercise, the organization behind LRMI is "reaching outside of the United States to see how this can be adopted internationally," said Jay. He added that this will also be helpful for the increasing number of non-native English speakers in U.S. classrooms.
5. Not Just How, But How Well
The LRMI does not currently include a ratings system, but organizations are creating ratings that take advantage of LRMI, said Jay. These ratings will help teachers and students identify content that is not only relevant but that has been deemed useful by peers.
LRMI's work has been focused on K-12, but the organization is working to determine how to further engage the higher-ed community.
7. Common Standards For Common Core
Both the math and language arts components of the Common Core State Standards are referenced in the LRMI. Resources can be tagged according to what standards they address, said Jay. This will go a long way toward helping schools struggling with Common Core implementation.
The LRMI project has just announced that it is publishing "LRMI Update," a monthly newsletter to keep the education community up to speed on the latest LRMI news. The free newsletter will be distributed on the second Wednesday of each month, and will include links to recent LRMI blog posts and information about upcoming LRMI-related informational events.
Please let me know in the comments section below what you think about tagging of Web-based resources for education.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.