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Creative Commons, AEP Team for K-12 Metadata Search Framework

Creative Commons and AEP team up to develop an education-specific tagging system for internet searches

A new alliance between Creative Commons and the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) seeks to create a metadata framework targeted toward improving Web search results for K-12 learning resources.

The partnership is, according to the AEP, the first industry-specific initiative to spring from Schema.org, an alliance of the major search engines--Google, Yahoo!, and Bing--that was formed to create a universal framework for tagging Web-based content to yield more relevant search results. Google Recipes is a prototype example of a metadata framework in which users can search for recipes that, for instance, contain and avoid specific ingredients and that fall within a specific caloric range.

The Creative Commons-AEP alliance, which is underwritten by grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to create a similar search experience for users seeking information on learning resources, specifically resources that address Common Core State Standards for K-12, which will comprise the minimum scope of the initial effort.

"Educators and students miss out on education resources available online because it is takes too long or is too hard to find appropriate content," said Catherine Casserly, CEO of Creative Commons. "A common metadata schema will make this search more efficient and effective so educators can quickly discover the educational resources they want, including those they can reuse under Creative Commons licenses."

Several leading commercial and non-commercial organizations have signed on to the learning resource metadata framework by agreeing to contribute to the development of the specifications and to support their implementation, the AEP said. These groups include: BetterLesson, Curriki, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME), McGraw-Hill Education, Monterey Institute for Technology in Education (MITE), Pearson, Promethean, Scholastic, and Smart Technologies.

"This is a watershed project for our industry," said Charlene Gaynor, CEO of AEP.  "It benefits both users and content providers because improved discoverability expands the market. Being part of the process with Creative Commons allows publishers to address issues such as quality and suitability as dimensions of educational content."

AEP, a non-profit organization that serves supplemental educational publishers, and Creative Commons, a not-for-profit that promotes the creative re-use of private and public domain intellectual and creative works, will co-lead the project. AEP will handle communication and Creative Commons will oversee the development of the technical specifications and manage the working group, which will be made up of representatives appointed by both organizations.

A draft framework, expected for release in October, will be made available for public comment via a Web site to be developed by AEP. Final specifications are expected by Feb. 1, 2012. Adoption of the education metadata schema by the various search engines and by educational content providers will be voluntary, said the AEP, but they expect widespread acceptance of the framework because of the involvement of both commercial and non-commercial learning providers.

More information about the initiative is available at schema@AEPweb.org.

About the Author

Therese Mageau is the former editorial director of THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at therese@educationworksconsulting.com.

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