How successful are your Google searches when looking for instructional resources? If your results are subpar, you’re not alone. According to a survey that assessed how educators search for online materials, only 25 percent of educators described their searches as “usually successful.”
The survey, conducted in April and released in July, was directed by the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI), a program led by the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP), which serves the educational resource community, and Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that promotes open-source materials. LRMI’s mission is to make online resources more discoverable by developing a common metadata specification language for tagging online education content. This framework allows all educational resource searches via Bing, Google and Yahoo to yield richer and more relevant results. LRMI released its first version in June.
“Metadata” by definition means a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. For instance, while shopping online, you may notice that your searches can be narrowed according to brand, size and color. Similarly, LRMI has created a context to organize educational content so that pertinent materials rise above the mass of Web pages. For example, you can search by learning resource type, such as “handout” or “presentation.” Content tagged as such will appear. The tagging is not just for curriculum materials, however; it applies to white papers and additional resources.
Version 1.0 reflects many changes not found in traditional searches, such as the relationship between a learning resource and the achievement standards with which it is aligned. LRMI stems from Schema.org, a larger initiative by Google, Bing and Yahoo that aims to establish metadata vocabulary for all searches.
“The next major milestone is that LRMI will be adopted by Schema.org when that is approved,” says David Gladney, project manager of LRMI at AEP. Although no specific date has been set, Gladney says that the adoption is imminent and is expected for the fall. To date, AEP has tagged over 600 resources from 18 publishers. Educators can visit lrmi.net/the-specification to learn more about how they can adjust their searches to yield stronger results.
Marion Herbert is associate editor.