Sue Allcock (Reed Education & Professional Publishing), Irena Bosworth (BECTA), Adrian Carey (Dialnet), Clive Church (North Lincs Coillege, ICONEX), Rob Daniels (Reed Education & Professional Publishing), Kevin Donovan (LSDA), Fred Garnett (BECTA) Chair, Milton Grimleigh (QCA/NC Online), Ian Grove-Stephensen (Chalkface Project), Nicole Harris (LITC, South Bank University), Steve Jeyes (North Lincs College, ICONEX), Pete Johnston (UKOLN), William Kilbride (Archaeology Data Service), Barry Kruger (BECTA/VTC), Ronan O'Beirne (LINA/MCC), Fiona O'Brien (BBC Factual & Learning), Jenny Slater (CETIS Metadata Special Interest Group, FAILTE), Aida Slavic (LITC, South Bank University), Sandy Smith (Scottish University for Industry), Bill Urwin (Somerset/SWGfL), Sid Verber (National Extension College)
This meeting was arranged under the auspices of Interoperability Focus. Paul Miller of UKOLN and Bruce Royan of SCRAN sent their apologies, and in their absence the meeting was chaired by Fred Garnett of BECTA. The venue was generously provided by BECTA.
There were no matters arising which were not already included on the agenda.
Pete Johnston reported that there were now 60 signatories to the MEG Concord. He noted that Resource had issued a press release when BBC Factual & Learning became the fiftieth signatory in May.
Pete Johnston gave some background to the work on metadata schema registries being carried out at UKOLN. He highlighted the role of registries in making available descriptions of how metadata schemas are really deployed by implementers and noted the value of the RDF-based approach advocated by the SCHEMAS project in enhancing "semantic interoperability".
At present, MEG-related schemas continue to be described by entries in the Desire registry. This approach serves to illustrate the usefulness of the conceptual model, and the recent addition of entries for the MILO, QCA/NC and VTC schemas offers examples of how multiple application profiles "mix and match" from a common pool of elements and schemes. However, the interfaces to the Desire registry are designed to support human readability rather than access by software agents, and at present the scope of the registry does not extend to the range of "annotations" (evaluations, commentaries, usage guidelines etc) which the SCHEMAS project is aiming to incorporate within a registry.
There was considerable discussion, which circled around the issues of how use of the registry might be extended to support those aspects of information exchange within MEG which were closely related to the use of schemas, so allowing the face-to-face meetings to concentrate more on strategic and policy issues. This raised two questions:
On the former point, Steve Jeyes expressed interest in using the registry to provide feedback on element usage to the creators of standard namespace schemas, and Pete Johnston agreed to investigate means of generating summary reports from the current registry [ACTION: PJ]
The second point raised many issues, from how to develop and formalise relationships with other bodies to the continued requirement for events to raise awareness - at many different levels - of the value of metadata.
It was agreed that "the way forward" for MEG should form the main item of discussion at the next MEG meeting.
Pete Johnston reported that an initial meeting had taken place at the offices of the Publishers' Association in London on 17 April, between a group of MEG members and representatives ofthe publishing industry. The parties at this meeting had outlined the approaches to resource description and the metadata standards and specifications in use in their respective sectors, with the objective of investigating the requirements for greater interoperability. Pete understood that some further contact had taken place between subgroups of the participants in that meeting, but did not have further information available.
Pete Johnston summarised briefly the work done by Paul Miller in collating a draft list of terms for the "audience levels" of educational resources, drawn from the various vocabularies in use.
Kevin Donovan drew attention to the credit framework available at the Learning and Skills Development Agency site.
It was also noted that at present the tables lacked more specific terms at the school ("Entry") level
There was some discussion of whether a description of "audience level" constituted an "intrinsic" property of a resource or was rather a chracteristic of its use. It was recognised that resources would be re-purposed but nonetheless a description of the audience level intended by the resource creator remained useful.
Barry Kruger of BECTA presented an overview of the Virtual Teacher Centre and the metadata schema it has developed to support its work.
In Jan 2001, the VTC site was migrated from a static HTML site to a database-driven site which utilises a metadata schema to support resource discovery. The VTC schema is an application profile based on Dublin Core and the QCA National Curriculum schema. Because the coverage of the VTC includes areas of pedagogy not covered by the NC, the VTC schema introduces a number of additional elements (and controlled vocabularies for their values).
The VTC web interface supports flexible searching through the "VTC viewer" and "Guided search" options, and users can personalize their searches by registering their interests and receiving notification of recently added resources at logon.
The VTC has published an RDF implementation of the schema, which enables the harvesting of distributed metadata instances by a spider. To assist metadata creators, VTC is seeking to obtain or develop a simple schema-independent "tagging tool" which insulates the author from the complexity of RDF/XML syntax. Barry would welcome suggestions of any such tools available.
BECTA is developing its Teacher Resource Exchange on similar lines, and this will require the addition to the schema/profile of another element, drawn from the IEEE LOM.
Kevin Donovan announced that the LSDA was planning a conference aimed at e-learning materials developers to be held a Wigan & Leigh College on 6-7 December 2001. Further details would be posted to the UK-MEG mailing list.
The next meeting will be held on Thursday 18 October, venue to be confirmed.
There was also interest expressed in having a social gathering for MEG members attending the ALT-C 2001 conference in Edinburgh in September.