eLearning Takes Important Step Forward

December 11, 2000

Representatives of the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee Learning Objects Metadata (LTSC-LOM) Working Group and the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the commitment to develop mutual interoperable metadata for technology-supported learning, education and training tools. The MOU signifies that a core set of specifications and accredited standards is emerging to support an interoperable infrastructure for worldwide e-learning technology.

Metadata is descriptive indexing labels, marked with “tags,” that define attributes for characteristics about each content object (an element of an online course) used in the authoring of learning objects. It facilitates searching, management and linking granules of content. Metadata enables users and authors of content to search, retrieve and assemble content objects according to parameters defined by users.

Ready access to comprehensive repositories of metadata is increasingly noted by developers of Web-enabled learning technology products as a critical factor in the next generation of learning and knowledge creation. However, to be useful, that metadata must be highly interoperable and reusable worldwide.

“This (memorandum) is all about critical mass and building momentum toward interoperable metadata,” said Professor Erik Duval, chair of the CEN ISSS Learning Technologies Workshop and technical editor of IEEE LTSC-LOM. “Having a common approach to educational metadata is crucial to further speed up adoption of metadata technologies. That, in turn, is the first, crucial step on the long road to open learning infrastructures.”

LOM and DCMI are leaders in the formation of metadata specifications for the Web and significant standardization work is underway in both groups as they seek to increase the use of metadata or “data about data.”

The agreement signals a path forward for how education and training practitioners engaged in developing metadata can best support e-learning. “This milestone positions educational metadata for the long-term and ensures that metadata can evolve with the ever-changing landscape of digital and global information,” stated Jon Mason and Stuart Sutton, co-chairs of the DC-Education Working Group.

“No matter how many search engines or information retrieval systems we use today finding a needle in the data-haystack can be a fruitless effort. This enormous problem will not be solved overnight, but LOM and DCMI are building the path that will make information retrieval and exchange a much more rewarding process,” said Stuart Weibel, Director of DCMI.

Representatives from concurring projects sponsored by the following organizations support the joint effort between the IEEE LTSC-LOM and DCMI: ARIADNE (Alliance of Remote Instructional Authoring and Distribution Networks for Europe), EdNA (Education Network Australia), GEM (Gateway to Educational Materials), and the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

“The IMS Global Learning Consortium is pleased to have contributed, with ARIADNE, to the creation of the candidate Learning Objects Metadata standard and to the collaborative effort which has produced in this agreement,” stated E.C.T. Walker, CEO of IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc

“ARIADNE’s constituents deal with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for education and training and, by nature, will need to rely on some kind of library services. They have much to gain from using a common, stable and compatible indexation system, endorsed by recognized authorities in the field of metadata.” — Eddy Forte, Chairman of the ARIADNE Foundation for the European Knowledge Pool

For more information about this joint commitment please visit: http://purl.org/dc/


The IEEE-SA is a major contributor to the IEEE, which is the world’s largest technical professional society. IEEE-SA membership, through its IEEE relationship, promotes the engineering process by creating, developing, integrating, sharing and applying knowledge about electro- and information technologies and sciences for the benefit of humanity and the profession. More information is found at http://standards.ieee.org.

The IEEE LTSC develops technical standards in approximately 20 areas of information technology for learning, education, and training. Further information can be found at: http://ltsc.ieee.org/

The IEEE LTSC LOM (Learning Object Metadata) working group will specify the syntax and semantics of metadata needed to describe technology-supported learning, including computer-based training systems, interactive learning environments, intelligent computer-aided instruction systems, distance learning systems, and collaborative learning environments. More information is available at: http://ltsc.ieee.org/wg12/

About the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI)

The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative is an open forum engaged in the development of interoperable online metadata standards that support a broad range of purposes and business models. Its primary offering, the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, is the de facto worldwide standard for the description of information resources across disciplines and languages. DCMI’s activities include consensus-driven working groups, global workshops, conferences, standards liaison, and educational efforts to promote widespread acceptance of metadata standards and practices. Further information on DCMI, the Dublin Core family of specifications and various online metadata solutions can be found at http://purl.org/dc/.

Contact Information:

IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC)

Learning Objects Metadata (LOM)

Wayne Hodgins, 425/507-5759 (Chair)


IEEE Standards Association

Karen McCabe, 732/562-3824 (Marketing Manager)