background image
Seamus Ross
is an educationalist, Director of
Glasgow University's Humanities Advanced Tech-
nology and Information Institute (HATII),
he asked: `Do you envisage an environment with
heritage institutions owning digital objects and their
administration and discovery metadata with corporate
enterprises independently owning learning object
metadata, withdrawing a digital object from a
repository and delivering it as part of a learning
The Italian expert said there were many different
approaches to such `content brokerage', with tech-
nical and system architecture implications.The first
requirement was an XML-based metadata process to
link with the Learning Object Metadata (LOM)
standard.Then came links to the physical resource.
Later concerns would be about digital rights mana-
gement, watermarking and indexing. He said: `We
say start indexing at the very fine grade level with
tagging systems which can automatically generate
metadata and then aggregate a learning object.
Because if tomorrow I want to drag and drop an
image from your learning object I can be tracked.'
The Learning Object Metadata standard,
sponsored by the Learning Technology Standards
Committee (LTSC) of the US Institute of Electrical
and Electronics Engineers, is in its final draft and was
approved in 2002 as an operational standard. Its pur-
pose is `to facilitate search, evaluation, acquisition,
and use of learning objects, for instance, by learners,
instructors or automated software processes', the
standard's `Purpose' chapter states.
It continues: `This multi-part standard also facili-
tates the sharing and exchange of learning objects, by
enabling the development of catalogs and inventories
while taking into account the diversity of cultural
and lingual contexts in which the learning objects
and their metadata are reused. By specifying a
common conceptual data schema, this (standard)
ensures that bindings of Learning Object Metadata
have a high degree of semantic interoperability. As
a result, transformations between bindings will be
At the Hague Forum, another educationalist,
University of Paris 8
researcher Henri Hudrisier,
wondered how cultural heritage could be structured
for learning functions.This was an important ques-
tion for universities, he said, asking: `What is the
education model to ensure interoperability between
cultural heritage tagging and learning?'
Cardinali said: `There is no standard definition of
what a learning object is at the intra-learning object
level, so what you put in is actually left to your
authoring pedagogical approach.Then you start
putting metadata tags on what that is. So, first thing
(and this is where 90 per cent of the work, effort and
budget usually is) is deciding if those tags are enough
and if the vocabularies are right.'
James Ayre
, a partner in the UK management
consultancy Multimedia Ventures,
took another
angle. He has been involved with the EU's European
since 1998 and is part of the organisa-
tion's CELEBRATE (Context e-learning with
broadband technologies) project,
a Euro 7 million
initiative investigating how different types of learning
objects and learning content management systems
(LCMS) impact upon learning processes. He chal-
lenged the Forum's assumption that institutions
were themselves creating the content.
`I would like to take a step back from that,' he said,
`because technologies also give scenarios where you
can unlock digital repositories and the assets within
them for a wide range of people, including students,
to actually create the content based on those assets.'
HATII, University
of Glasgow, http://www.
IEEE LTSC: Standard for
Information Technology -
Education and Training Systems -
Learning Objects and Metadata,
1484.12.1 2002, files/
University of Paris 8,
Department of Documentation
and Hypermedia,
Multimedia Ventures,
European Schoolnet (EUN),
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