MELT content audit
At the end of March 2007, project partners completed work on a major audit of MELT content, deliverable (D5.2), and further updated some of these figures at the end of October 2007 in a deliverable (D5.3) that looks at the Phase I content enrichment by experienced indexers.
Number of MELT resources and assets
In October 2007, the project is on target to provide provide approximately 94% of the learning resources and slightly exceed the number of learning assets that were indicated in the original Description of Work. The total figures at the end of Year 1 are 35,324 learning resources and 97,747 learning assets.
The breakdown of content by age range indicates that there is a concentration of resources for secondary level education which is broadly in line with the situation found in earlier projects such as CELEBRATE.
|MELT resources by teaching level |
|General Upper Secondary
|Teacher training materials/lesson plans
The figures from the March 2007 audit show that the MELT collection is particularly strong in terms of resources for: maths, science and technology (37%); second national language and foreign languages (13%); mother tongue and literature (10%); and History (9%).
A key issue for the content audit has been to examine the metadata application profiles (the guidelines for how metadata is structured) currently being used by MELT partners and to establish a baseline for the metadata that currently exist for MELT content.
Starting with the existing EUN LRE application profile (version 2.1 - developed during and after the CELEBRATE project), MELT partners made a number of recommendations for how this LOM-based profile needs to be amended in order to meet the requirements of MELT repositories. The resulting MELT LRE Application Profile is presented Part 3 of deliverable D5.2 where all the elements and vocabularies are given in detail. The mandatory elements of the MELT application profile are:
9.2 Classification.Taxon Path
New repositories joining the MELT federation may well have more mandatory fields than this. General feedback from teachers using national portals and from smaller focus groups of teachers confirms that having metadata for a number of additional fields can also significantly improve the search experience. The MELT application profile, therefore, also includes recommended elements. These are:
2.3 Life Cycle.Contribute
5.2 Educational.Learning Resource Type
5.5 Educational.Intended End User Role
5.6 Educational.Learning Context
5.7 Educational.Typical Age Range
Enriching content with new metadata
In the first phase of the project (Year 1), a group of experienced indexers from across Europe are enriching MELT content with additional metadata, in line with the new LRE application profile. It will be possible to measure exactly how much and what type of metadata is added during this process as the content audit has also taken a snapshot of the metadata in each partners’ content collection.
It is clear from deliverable D5.3 that content partners are using the funding being provided in MELT to maximum effect and will be able to almost fully index all resources (96 %) and a significant number of assets (51.5%). Moreover, by the end of November 2007, almost two-thirds of MELT learning resources will have been enriched with new metadata. This means that a key project milestone will have been achieved, as there will be a critical mass of resources where the metadata has been enriched in time for the start of the validation with schools.
As a general principle, all content made available via the MELT LRE federation will have undergone, at a national level, a quality check that will ensure: the correctness and accuracy of the content, that no offensive material is distributed to MELT schools and that copyright has not been infringed. Whether the author of a resource is known or not, or whether the resource has been produced by a teacher(s) or commercial companies, it will only be made available in MELT if it has first passed a formal review process administered by a recognised national authority (for example, using expert teachers and subject matter expert acting as moderators).
The MELT content audit included an in-depth examination of partners’ existing content quality guidelines and produced a checklist to help them decide what content from their repositories should be made available in the project for enrichment. This checklist, which has been particularly inspired by the framework and quality guidelines provided by the Finnish National Board of Education, is divided into five categories – pedagogical, usability, reusability, accessibility and production.
The list is by no means prescriptive and not all of the criteria can always be applied to all resources. For example, some resources may score strongly in terms of re-usability because they include open source code that facilitates adaptation to different learning scenarios than the one originally intended. However, the same resource might actually score poorly in terms of its interactivity. The checklist, therefore, needs to be seen more as a minimum framework that should be used in a flexible way.
Further details on the checklist are provided in Part 1 of deliverable D5.2.
Content that travels well?
In MELT we want to be able to provide access to learning content that meets nationally recognised quality criteria. However, it is also important to appreciate that some very high-quality resources may meet the specific needs of a national curriculum but may not always have the ability to be used as effectively (or maybe at all) by schools in other countries. For example, a text-heavy, lesson plan in a minority European language may work splendidly in a national context but may simply be unusable by teachers in other countries.
With this in mind during the content audit, MELT partners have begun to develop quality criteria that are defined in terms of the extent to which learning content has the potential to ‘travel well’; i.e. the extent to which resources/assets can be easily used across national borders and in different curricula frameworks. At a commonsense level, some MELT content will obviously travel better than others. Learning assets such as pictures and sounds, for example, are obviously more re-useable than a complex, Spanish language learning object designed to convey facts about the Spanish War of Independence.
Beyond this, an initial assumption in MELT is that content is more likely to ‘travel well’ if it is:
modular: the parts of a content item are fully functional on their own
adaptable: the resource can be modified, for instance from a configuration file, from a plain text file or because it is provided along with its source code or an authoring tool.
Further discussions among partners also suggests that cross-border re-use of content will be more likely if resources:
have a strong visual element and users can broadly understand what is the intended learning objective or topic (e.g. resources may have little or no text; and include animations and simulations that are self-explanatory or have just a few text labels or icons/buttons for start, stop, etc.)
have been designed to be language customisable ('choose a language option') and are already offered in more than one language.
address curriculum topics that could be considered trans-national (e.g. teaching 'geometric shapes' or 'the parts of the cell' are usually covered in every national curriculum but teaching the folklore of a very specific region is not).
are adaptable from a technical (e.g. resources are supplied along with an authoring environment or tools) or IPR perspective (e.g. they are not made available under a “No derivatives” Creative Commons license which would prevent users from even translating the resource).lick here to see some examples of learning resources from partners’ repositories that could potentially travel well according to the above criteria.
After September 2007, new social tagging tools will be used to further enrich MELT content. As the goal is to encourage teachers who have used MELT content to create a large volume of folksonomy ‘tags’, it is important that MELT content is available as Open Educational Resources
The intention in the project is to make all MELT content available under a range of Creative Commons
licenses. This international initiative let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. The Creative Commons licenses are specified by combining the following criteria.
The content audit has shown that allMELT partners have chosen to use some form of ‘noncommercial’ CC license while ‘attribution’ is also included in the licenses being applied by 14 partners. These two conditions are then combined with ‘no derivative works’ by seven partners and an equal number of partners have elected to combine them with the ‘share alike’ criteria.
Part 2 of the Content Audit
contains a review of the state-of-the art related to folksonomies and social tagging and also outlines the needs and requirements for the social tagging tool that will be developed in the project.
You will find more information about folksonomies and social tagging in our section on Enriching Content entitled folksonomies