Educational Metadata Project

written July 2003 being revised May 2006

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1   Introduction

This project, or part of it, is suitable for Y12-13 students who has reached advanced level, or for teachers in professional development at an advanced level. This project consists of several phases which need to be done in sequence:
  1. Define the XML document for educational metadata.
  2. Design a simple database to hold the metadata. This could be in a files, or an RDB, or as the XML document tests themselves.
  3. Provide a webpage for reviewers to add records to the database.
  4. provide a search engine for the database.
  5. provide maintanance features such as:

A provisional definition is proposed below. This can be adjusted in XML without too much impact on the development of other aspects of the project.

Each of the following items in the list can be done independantly as a subproject by a class of students or by a group of teachers as part of their professional development.

1.1   Prerequisites

This project requires a fully featured computer environment with:

2   Metadata Definition

<educational lang='language the page is written in' source='pointer to the source document' author='Author of this record' date='date this record was written' >
    <readership from='from age' to='to age' level='readership level' />
     <subject>curriculum areas</subject>
     <skill>skill area</skill>
     <value>attitude or social value</value>
     <review>subjective evaluation with reference to strong points and reservations</review>

2.1   Educational tag

The lang attribute is redundant on an xhtml webpage because this information is in the tag. However this definition stands independant of xhtml context and can be applied to other document types so it is required.

The source attribute is required if this record is not embedded in the source document. It may be a web ref, an ISBN number or some other source identifier.

The author of this record is required. This is to enable checking of authors for review conformity.

The date the tag is written is required. This is so that old tags can be identified for review.

2.2   Readership tag

The readership agegroup is required, the to attribute is required. Omitting the from attribute implies the readership age is open to all higher ages.The level attribute should also be supplied for school age students. This reflects learning level, type of language used and relationship to other topics covered as indicated by the particular curriculum area. Level typicallly ranges from 1 to 7. Level 1 implies limited ability to read or write, Level 2 implies very limited vocabulary and so on.

2.3   Subject tag

The subject tag is always going to be a problem. It best left ass a list of keywords selected from a series of groupings. The NZ curriculum structure changes emphasis and its subject structure shifts with time. This same process occurs in other countries and the shifts are different. Each eduational culture will have its own structure of subjects. How do we marry cross-cultural education structures ? Do we really have cross-cultural education structures within NZ already with Te Reo Maori? Probably.

The best can manage in this regard is to establish a structure for one culture and maintian that. In NZ this may mean a numberr of databases, a general "kiwi" database, a maori database, possibly a Pisifika database and another database for FFP students whose focus is english as a second language. FFP students need quite different educational resources to kiwis.

So perhaps NZ requires four subject structures. We can then map relationships between the four structures in common areas such as health and maths.

Each of the four structures will be a tree starting with the curriculum area first, then the subject area and then a finer focus, for example (Arts, Music, Harmony). Many resources will touch on more than one subject. Multiple subject tags are provided for this.

For the general kiwi version we have:
Language and Languages
Social Sciences
The Arts
Health and Physical Well-being
While the subject tag contains a list of semi-coded keywords, The subject of most articles is about more than just a topic. There is usually some specific related aspect. In the case of language an article will generally be about some particular type of media, text, webpage, video, audio etc. In the case of technology it will be about some particular tool.

You can have more than one subject tag if the article covers more than one subject either within a curriculum area or across curriculum areas. Also if the document bridges subject areas, such as Shakespeare which can cover Arts/Drama/Production, Arts/Drama/Performance and Language/English/Play" section 0 "Skill Tag" text "This tag is required. Like the subject tag, the entries in this tag come from a tree structure which will shift with time. The curriculum currently features 8 skills which have further subdivisions. Typically more than one skill will apply to a source. The skill tag can be repeated.

Skills reference

2.4   Value Tag

This is also a required tag.

The curriculum also references attitudes. The development of such social values as honesty, reliability, respect for others, respect for the law, tolerance, fairness, caring or compassion, non-sexism, and non-racism. While these are important as social values, they are recognised as developing as personal values. It could be argued that it is presumptuous for a reviewer to evaluate parsonal values on a persona; basis for a general audience. On the other hand, some sourcves are specifically concerned with issues of social values, and it is appropriate that sources which specifically address social values should be able to be recognised in the database.

However is it important to make it a rule to supply a value tag. 100 years ago education was value-laden. Reading was taught from the Bible, and history was taught from the perspective of victorious heros. However religious values proved to betray the new knowledge-based value sytsem of the 20th century, with Darwinism, atomic physics, geology, logic and astrophysics. What we tend to overlook is that these new knowledges have in fact come with their own inbuilt set of values. We have tended to look at rationalism as the religion of the 20th century, and found it dry and impoverished for the human spirit. And yet the truth is that they bring with them a rich and strong set of values of their own which are fundamental to modern thinking. We do little to explore these values in school, in any education or at any point in our lives. We even dismiss them or decry them.

Take for example Mathematics. Here is something absolute and dry with no attitudes or values. But not so. Mathematics exists because of two fundamanetal values, reliability, and correctness or "what is right". These are the types of values we look for in a legal system. We may not find them in a legal system, but Mathematics is founded entirely on these principles. If it is not reliably consistent and correct it is not Maths.

These assumptions that knowledge based learning has impoverished values needs to be addressed and reviewers should look hard at the underlying principles of a subject when reviewing the values and attitudes of a document.

2.5   Review Tag

The review tag should contain a general overall impression of the educational quality of the document. This can be one of a selection of common keywords such as ( substandard, poor, adequate, good, excellent). But the reviewer may also wish to point out key areas which are good, or problems with attitudes presented in the document. This document type is intended to be an indication of education value only, and the reviewer should not apply the same criteria as one would to a unit plan. So issues such as the supply or availability of resources should not be part of this kind of review.

2.6   Relationship with Unit Plan Record

The information held in the Educational Record is also required in a Unit Plan Record. But a Unit Plan record requires a lot more information such as prerequisites, resources required, time scale to perform and so on.

An educational record could be looked at as a necessary subset of a Unit Plan Record. This means that all Unit plan Records are Educational Records. This makes sense. This means that an Educational Record can contain tag types than are required by the above definition. For an Educational Record to be valid it must contain the required tags for an Education Record, in the defined structure, but may include additional tag information.

The Unit Plan Record can be defined as being the Educational Record, with the addition of a specific set of required fields.

3   Database Design

4   Reviewers webpage for contributions

5   Teachers Search Engine

6   Maintenance Features

6.1   Record aging and re-review system

6.2   Re-checking url validity

6.3   Checking webpages for updates educational records

6.4   Educational Record Spider

6.5   Authorisation of Reviewers

6.6   Review management system

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