DCMI Education Community

DCMI-Education at DC8
5 October 2000
Ottawa, Canada
The National Library of Canada

Co-chairs: Jon Mason (EdNA) & Stuart Sutton (GEM)

DCMI-Education Working Group Attendees:

Rei Atarashi [email protected], Mary Alice Ball [email protected], Ian Bron [email protected], Alan Burke [email protected], Karen Calhoun [email protected], Sheila Carey <[email protected]>, Luna Levinson <[email protected]>, Jon Mason [email protected], Nancy Morgan [email protected], Liddy Nevile [email protected], Andy Powell [email protected], Thom Shepard <[email protected]>, Stuart Sutton [email protected], Tim Wayne [email protected]

Discussion Items

Discussion items at the DCMI-Education Working Group breakout sessions focused primarily on the following matters:

  1. exploring possible element qualifiers for the proposed “dc-ed:audience” element;
  2. continued work on the needs for a domain-specific vocabulary of resource types (“dc-ed:type”); and
  3. mechanisms for moving forward with the need to describe teaching/learning processes and characteristics embodied in resources for purposes of network information discovery and retrieval (NIDR).

However, as with our work at DC-7, the commitment of DCMI and the DCMI-Education to coordinate efforts with other standards-promulgating activities in retrieval of educational objects (principally, IEEE LOM) was also an ever-present theme. In the following paragraphs, we’ll summarize our (the co-chairs’) general sense of the Working Group deliberations on these matters.

Qualifiers for dc-ed:audience


Stemming from listserv discussions since the Working Group’s meeting in Australia, participants at the breakout session focused on the need to identify the “level” of the students/trainees for which the resource being described is intended. This notion of level might be expressed in a number of ways depending on the context but appears to include information such as grade level, course level, and perhaps age group.

There was considerable discussion of the fact that while there is a strong sense of a need to be able to express “level”, there is no single acceptable controlled vocabulary for doing so. Given the need to describe level across education/training sectors and the fact that different nations and organizations have different schemes for expressing the notion of “level”, the participants thought that it would be useful to break the work on the issue down into several components. First, participants thought that listserv discussions should move forward quickly to determine the necessity of an dc-ed:audience qualifier in the first instance. Should the Working Group finally be in agreement that an element qualifier is justified, work should then move to the possible defining of a dc-ed:level vocabulary to which various recognized national/local/organizational schemes might me mapped. Copies of a draft (and ongoing) mapping of academic levels prepared by Keith Stubbs in the U.S. Department of Education’s Chief Information Officer were distributed ( Levels Mapping)

Other Facets of Audience:

Stemming from prior listserv discussions over the past year, participants though it was necessary for networked information discovery and retrieval to be able to make statements about a number of facets of the audience for a resource beyond “level” noted above. As a result, discussion of these other facets will continue on the listserv in order to determine whether the Working Group should propose: (1) qualifiers that refine the already proposed dc-ed:audience element, (2) and/or value qualifiers in the form of one or more controlled vocabularies. The former would provide a mechanism to define general semantics while permitting variations among national/local/organizational schemes while the latter would provide for maximum interoperability. Of course, nothing precludes proposals that include both dc-ed:audience element qualifiers and accompanying value qualifiers.

Participants reviewed the general categories of audience facets that have emerged over the course of the past year’s discussions. The following table represents general facets embodying characteristics either already included in existing projects or identified through descriptors in existing, generally known controlled vocabularies.

Element Name Identifier Facet Scheme Description
Audience dc-ed:audience     A category of user for whom the resource is intended.
    Mediator Controlled Vocabularies An entity that mediates access to the resource.
    Intellectual Ability Controlled Vocabularies Used for an audience with specific intellectual characteristics; e.g., gifted students.
    Disabilities Controlled Vocabularies Used to denote physical, learning, and developmental disabilities of the target audience; e.g., visually impaired students or students with attention deficit disorder
    Cultural/Linguistic Groups Controlled Vocabularies Groups for whom the resource is intended; e.g., Asian, African, and Mexican Americans.
    Linguistic Ability   The native language of the target audience (which may be different from the encoding language of the resource).
    Gender Controlled Vocabulary (Male, Female, Transgender) The gender of the target audience
    Vocational Sectors Controlled Vocabularies (e.g., SIC/NAICS and SOC codes) The industrial sector or occupational class of the target audience

As was exemplified in earlier listserv discussions, a number of the labels for these facets are “charged” and stand as barriers to ongoing discussions. As a result, the participants in Ottawa thought that a better interim approach to the issues raised would be to set aside the categorizations and instead perform an environmental scan of existing projects and compile a listing of terms currently to make statements about the various facets of audience. Armed with such a union of terms grounded in real-world applications, the Working Group could then move forward by classifying the terms into meaningful facets that might form the basis for dc-ed:audience element qualifiers.

Domain-Specific Resource Types

The participants at the break out session briefly discussed the partially completed work on a “type” vocabulary for the education/training domain. To date, an aggregated listing of resource types from existing projects has been put together as a first step in developing such a vocabulary of types (DC-EDT1?). The next step will be to examine this aggregated listing to determine whether they fall into classes that might form the basis for a high-level vocabulary. In addition to the aggregated listing, a compilation of resource type vocabularies used throughout the U.S. Department of Education was also distributed for reference and is available here. The goal is to provide a general, domain-specific vocabulary that will serve discovery and retrieval across the education/training domain. While such a vocabulary would not serve all of the local needs of individual projects (or federations of projects), it would provide domain-wide interoperability. Thus, the vocabulary development would follow the same structure as the DCMI three-level model of element/element qualifier interoperability: DCT1==>DC-EDT1==>Local.

Teaching/Learning Processes and Characteristics

One area where the Working Group has been unable to make progress since its inceptoin is in the area of teaching/learning processes and characteristics embodied in a resource. From the experience of the existing projects, it is clear that being able to make statements about these attributes is important for discovery and retrieval. The participants in the break out session in Ottawa agreed that the best means for moving forward with this sometimes hotly debated area would be to follow the Working Group’s lead with the aggregation of vocabulary terms for resource type and perform an environmental scan as soon as possible to gather together the sorts of elements and vocabularies currently in use in existing projects. The procedure from there might again follow the resource type agenda by attempting to classify or ferret out the various facets of the area of teaching/learning characteristics and processes. Such a classification scheme might provide guidance in determining: (1) whether a domain-specific element is required; (2) whether such an element should be qualified; and (3) whether DC-Ed should pursue development of value qualifier(s) or whether such qualifiers should be left to scheme development by individual projects (or federations of projects) and national and organizational bodies.

The 2000-2001 DC-Ed Agenda

As a result of the discussion at the break out sessions in Ottawa, an agenda for the DC-Ed 2000-2001 work was set. That agenda can be found on the Working Group’s DCMI Home Page.