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LO Metadata [pár ROSSZ LINK és ikon!!!]


Site: Tenegen
Course: TC05 - Sharing Open Learning Objects
Book: LO Metadata [pár ROSSZ LINK és ikon!!!]
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Saturday, 2 March 2024, 1:59 PM



"If a tree falls in a forest and there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?"

"If a digital resource is in a database but can't be found, is it really there?"

Paul Shabajee, A Fundamental Dilemma for Developers of Multimedia Archives


The theme

LOM is an acronym for Learning Object Metadata which describes the essential characteristics of a Learning Object. This LO will inform you about the problems relating to metadata.

The objectives

When this LO is completed the learner will be able to do the following:

  • describe what a Learning Object is and what it does.
  • recognise the organisations who have supplied the main contributions to the definition of standards relating to LOM, in particular those contributions with pedagogical references.
  • develop an awareness of the criticisms and future developments.

How organised

  • Introduction (2 web pages)
  • Definition of LOM (4 web pages)
  • Reference standard (12 web pages)
  • LOM in the educational context (2 web page)
  • The problem of "vocabularies" and "mapping" (1 web page)
  • Self -evaluation test (6 multiple choise questions)


30 minutes



Metadata are elements describing a learning object; they provide information on the author, the content, the target and the conditions of use of the learning object. They are necessary to describe and classify each LO and to allow the users interested in that specific content to search for it. Actually metadata constitute an identity card for the learning object [ROSSZ LINK], as we can see from the example given below.


Thanks to metadata it is possible to


research online LOs meeting one's own needs


know the conditions of use of an LO, for example if such material is protected by copyright


find out links to other LOs in order to build a learning path

Metadata are not necessarily static{ they can be updated using the experience of users.


Metadata are


data that are strongly structured according to a predefined scheme. Owning a structure means that the data are catalogued according to a predetermined scheme that bases itself on shared standards.


they are organised in tables. Such tables are made up of columns, the headings of which constitute the scheme and their subheadings provide the scheme specifications. The different headings highlight the different descriptive categories that allow searching according to the fields chosen.


they are written in XML (eXtensible Markup Language), a language that can be read by databases and that can provide descriptions of the resource. It is extensible, independent from the platform used. XML files are text files and one of the advantages of the textual format is that it allows the information given to be read without the aid of the programme that has created them.

know more click here [ROSSZ LINK])

Metadata can be grouped under three categories according to the functions they perform:


descriptive metadata

To search for, to identify, to select


administrative metadata

To manage the digital objects of a collection providing their acquisition, storage and use according to the conditions of a possible copyright/copyleft licence, and to certify the integrity and authenticity of the resource


structural metadata

To link the several components of the resources to make them fully and adequately used

Metadata can be

a) objective (e.g. title, date creation)
b) subjective (e.g. semantic density)

depending on whether the information is derived directly from the described object or obtained from an evaluation or point of view of the person compiling the description.

Several international organisations have devised metadata standards, such as Dublin Core Initiative and IEEE/LOM.


Metadata can be linked to the resource/learning object in several ways: within the resource itself or outside it, in a " repository".

Therefore metadata can be located:

within the LO (using META tags of a HTML document )


outside the LO, as happens, for example, when library tags are collected separately from the books.

In this case metadata databases (repositories) can be located on one or more servers [ROSSZ LINK] and can contain hypertextual links to the location of the resource.

It is possible to compare a "repository" to a specialised database that allows the search and the discovery of more sets of metadata created by different authors on the same content and that "aim" at LOs different localisations.


Standards for LOM


There are many different organisations involved in the creation of standards for metadata.The standards are based on a thesaurus (a controlled vocabulary) which contains key words to describe a LO in terms of content and discipline. This allows any user to retrace the LO and helps to identify

the author of the LO

the date of the LO

potential target of users

the software used to produce the LO

the format of the LO and where it would be used

links with other documents

The compilation of the metadata fields is up to the author , but some of these are automatically compiled by the system.

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative -DCMI and IEEE/LOM- 2001 are the most important initiatives that have provided largely used standards.


One of the first organisations involved in metadata was Dublin Core.This organisation takes its name from its location in Dublin Ohio where the first working group was established.
DCMI proposed a standard which concerns the description of the resource which is presented on the web (therefore also non didactic).
It is characterised by a minimalist approach, with few descriptors which are easily understood and can be adapted to a wide range of resources.
This represents the departure point of successive developments up to current research concerning the semantic web.
The Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (DCMES) is made up of 15 elements which can be grouped under three main headings:




- Title
- Subject
- Description
- Source
- Language
- Link
- Cover
- Creator
- Contributor

- Rights
- Date
- Type
- Format
- Identifying features

As far as the educational field is concerned DCMI provides very few indications abouthow to use the resource and it suggests adding other elements such as the educational level of the user and the instructional method employed in the development of the resource.

It is, nevertheless, an adaptation as the Dublin Core Metadata Scheme is mainly devised to describe any kind of online resources.

ieeelogo.gif IEEE/LOM- 2001

In 2001 the Institute of Electrical Electronics Engineers developed a standard based on the smallest collection of attributes which were necessary to manage, locate and evaluate didactic resources.

The standard comprises 9 categories which can be broken down into approximately 70 fields.

An example: clicking on the category n.6 named "Rights" it is possible to enter and fill in the three following fields:

- costs

it provides information if the use of the resource is submitted to any forms of payment

- copyright

it highlights if the use of the resource is covered by copyright

- description

it provides comments on the conditions of use of the resource.

Here are the 9 IEEE/LOM categories:







It provides general information on the resource, for example an unambiguous identifier (URI, ISBN, DOI etc.), the title, the language, the description, the time and space used and the structure of the resource (atomic, branched, collection, networked, hierarchical, linear, mixed, parcelled)




It provides information on the history and evolution of the resource, the date of its creation and editing, the version, the primary and secondary contributions etc.




This category provides information on the scheme of metadata adopted, the author of the standard, the language of the scheme (that can be different from the one of the resource), its format etc.




This category describes the technical requirements and characteristics of the resource (format, size, technical specifications, duration etc.)




It provides information on the educational or pedagogic use of the resource. This category is of major interest for teachers and developers' communities.




It provides information on the intellectual rights of the resource, copyright matters and conditions of use.




It provides information on the relationship between one resource and another, if one exists; it is a useful strategy to discover relationships with other resources; in fact it is not possible to do this within the resource/learning object because being self-consistent, a LO can't contain links to any other resources.




It provides comments on the educational use of the resource, and information on the author and the date of comments; it differs from other categories as it is reserved for users, evaluators, etc.




It provides information on the theme or subject dealt with in the resource.
In case of free key words it is necessary to specify the relevant semantic context, for example the Dewey Decimal Classification(DDC), the Library of Congress Classification (LOC) or the European Educational Thesaurus (EET o TEE)

Vocabulary and "mapping"


If it is true to say that metadata is fundamental when researching LOs, it is also true that the context plays a determining role when compiling metadata in pedagogical terms.
For example the picture below can be used in many situations and for many different purposes.


1. How can this picture, or part of this picture, be used in an educational context?

2. How can the content of this picture be described?

The answer to the first question is “an infinite amount of ways” depending on the imagination of the teacher and/or the student
The answer to the second question is also “an infinite amount of ways” considering the different perspectives one view this picture from, e.g. historical, artistic, ecological , anthropological, etc.

Metadata can clarify the use and the approach adopted.However the metadata still allows freedom of choice between different vocabularies.
For example if two institutes were to use the same standard they could still have problems of conceptual interoperability.
In order to guarantee that the machine understands that between one descriptive system and another a particular relationship exists, it is necessary to make the different parts of the classification system relate to each other. (Intellectually)

This is why we need a Mapping

To understand fully let’s take the example of two schools who wish to share on-line their catalogue of didactic resources and LOs.
Let’s suppose they use the same standard but two different classification systems, for example the Dewey Decimal Classification System and the European Education Thesaurus.

We need a mapping operation so that the machine can search simultaneously in both data banks.

We need to analyse both classification systems and create a relationship between the concepts, independently from their form.

Until now mappings between controlled vocabularies in the same language have actually been realised (for example between the Library of Congress Subject Headings, LCSH and the Medical Subject Headings), including in different languages (for example mapping between vocabularies used in the catalogues of three national libraries: the English, the French and the German) and between different classification systems (for example between the classification system of the Swedish National Library and the Dewey Decimal System)

The ETB (European Treasury Browser), as part of a European project, has finalised the construction of a European repository of educational resources. Many mapping operations have been carried out between the ETB thesaurus and local classification systems or between the ETB thesaurus and other thesauri.

On the basis of Dublin Core and IEEE LOM, standards different application profiles have been created. These are “an assembly of elements of metadata selected by one or more metadata schemes and combined into one compound scheme” (Duval, et. al. 2002)

For further information you can go to the following application profiles: CANCORE, ARIADNE and CELEBRATE.



CanCore Learning Object Metadata is an Application Profile of the Learning Objects Metadata standard (IEEE 1484.12.1-2002); it provides detailed guidance for semplifications and interpretation of each data element in the LOM standard.
It is fully compliant with IEEE LOM standards and IMS Learning Resource Meta-data specifications
The guidelines of the CanCore Application Profile constitute a 250-page document and have been developed through consultation with experts across Canada and throughout the world.
These guidelines are available at no charge from the CanCore Website.

To learn more:


ARIADNE Educational Metadata Recommendation derives from work and experiments performed, since 1995, by many European and international institutions in the framework of the two European ARIADNE Projects and, since July 2000, of the ARIADNE Foundation. These experiments relied on a simplified version of this metadata specification, as implemented in the ARIADNE first and second generation indexation and query tools and Knowledge Pool System.
The current Educational Metadata Recommendation is an application profile of the LOM specification, in the sense that this recommendation is fully compatible with the LOM specification, and instantiates it for the ARIADNE community.

To learn more:


This is the metada model which was devised within the European project Celebrate (Context eLearning with Broadband Technologies, 2002- 2004). It takes inspiration from LOM and introduces a few distinctive elements such as the adoption of a controlled vocabulary for the semantic indexation of the object: ETB Thesaurus - European Treasury Browser - translated in 15 languages.

To learn more:



A test to check your understanding

This multiple choice test does not communicate any score to the platform. It is simply a tool you can use if you want to check your understanding of the concepts presented in this LO.

A feedback is provided for each answer. If you also click on the answers you think they are wrong, you can get more explanation as to why they are wrong.

To go to the test click on the forward arrow.



Carey, T., Swallow, J., Oldfield, W. (2002), Educational Rationale Metadata for
Learning Objects in Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology Volume 28
(3) Fall / automne (Online), sul Web all’URL:

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (Dublin ITA), Dublin Core Metadata Element Set,
versione 1.1: traduzione italiana (Online), sul Web all’URL:

Friesen, N., Roberts, A., Fisher, S. (2001), CanCore: Learning Object Metadata
(Online), sul Web all’URL:

McGreal, R. (2003), Metadata. What? Why? (Online), sul Web all’URL:

IEEE 1484 Learning Objects Metadata (IEEE LOM)

Scheda Metadata di Celebrate (nov. 2003) sul Web all’URL:

Antonio Fini e Luca Vanni “Learning objects e metadati. Quando come e perché avvalersene”
I quaderni di Form@re n. 2