What’s Up With the LRMI? Find Out on Our New Blog

This post marks the first of a (mostly) weekly series that will provide readers with the most up-to-date news on the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI), including updates on the development of the LRMI specification, what the LRMI means for different types of users (resource providers, platform developers, service providers, educators, students), and, once the specification has been implemented, personal testimonies from educators and students on what Internet searching with the LRMI looks like and how it has improved the process of finding learning resources on the Internet.

For those of you who are just getting up-to-speed on the project, here is a quick overview: The LRMI is co-led by the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) and Creative Commons and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The initiative aims to improve online search for learning resources by creating a standard markup language for identifying educational content on the web.

We’ve asked AEP’s Dave Gladney, project manager for the LRMI, to fill us in a bit more on the project.

Q: What does the LRMI mean for educational resource providers and content developers?

A: Anyone who publishes or curates educational content or resources should be paying close attention to the LRMI. At its root, the project is a way for these folks to a) identify their content or resources as educational and b) tag their resources in a way that makes it easier for search tools to filter based on criteria such as subject area, standards alignment, and intended user (i.e., educator, student, parent).

Q: Who developed the LRMI specification?

A: AEP and Creative Commons convened a technical working group of metadata experts from both commercial and OER providers to draft the spec. Several versions of proposed LRMI properties were posted on the Creative Commons wiki, and feedback was collected in the public LRMI Google Group.

Q: IEEE LOM, SIF, Dublin Core…I feel like I’ve heard this before. What makes the LRMI different?

A: First and foremost, the LRMI’s primary focus is end-user search and discovery of educational content on the web. When this is your goal, your scope becomes quite different than that of some of the existing metadata standards for education. The LRMI set out to identify the properties that make a resource inherently educational and codify them in a way that would be most useful in an Internet search.

The ultimate goal of the project is adoption of the LRMI spec by Schema.org, the consortia of Microsoft Bing, Google, Yahoo!, and Yandex that collects and documents web microdata standards. If accepted, the LRMI spec would become the de facto standard for tagging educational content online.

I should also note that the LRMI is not intended to supplant any existing standards. In fact, the technical working group took careful steps to ensure that the LRMI spec maps easily to schema that resource providers might already be using.

Q: What does AEP’s involvement mean?

A: The goals of the LRMI closely align with AEP’s mission and vision of providing easy access to quality instructional materials for all students. Our involvement means members of the educational resource community can be sure their interests have been and will continue to be well represented throughout the life of the project. Our role is to ensure that the broadest number of publishers understand the initiative and have the information and tools they need to begin tagging their content.

Q: What’s next? How can we get involved?

A: This post comes to you as the LRMI team attends ISTE, holding information sessions about the initiative and fielding inquiries from interested attendees. To learn more about the LRMI onsite at ISTE, call Alyssa Giustino at 410-975-9638.

For others who would like further information about the LRMI and what it means for you, check out our FAQ here or go to our website at www.lrmi.net.

We hope you will watch for our blog posts (almost) every Tuesday so you can follow the progress of the LRMI. We’ll skip next week because we know readers will be busy with Fourth of July activities, but look for another post on Tuesday, July 10.