Friday, 11 October 2013

Metadata Update #17 Metadata and MOOCs

MOOCs are a hot topic in higher education today.  A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course.  I have been trying out various MOOCs for almost exactly two years since I was first invited to attend one in the fall of 2011 on the Coursera platform which was offered by Professor Ng at Stanford University.  Since then I’ve sampled about a dozen different courses, completely finished 5 and have become a Coursera Community Teaching Assistant for one course.

The media has a lot to say about MOOCs and here is a typical example:

So, what do MOOCs have to do with metadata and why is it the topic of one of my updates?  I’m taking an amazing class on Metadata via Coursera being offered by Jeffrey Pomerantz of the library school at UNC Chapel Hill:  The course will be starting week 7 next week so it’s nearly over.  But, I recommend keeping an eye out for it on Coursera if you are interested in Metadata.

But, why I am talking about this class in my blog post?  I think that it is worth talking about because this course has been designed to be specifically NOT about library metadata and specifically NOT for library workers.  It is for web designers, engineers, database managers and programmers. Despite the purpose of the class, I think that it is great for library metadata people.  What it does is exposed me to the very broad context of metadata and how many of the very basic principles libraries have been applying for years are also used in other contexts such as web metadata, structured data, linked data, etc (essentially what could be called the semantic web).

Perhaps when the course is finished, I will write another post about it.  At this point, I think that one of the most interesting things I have been exposed to is how various metadata schemas can be combined and reused in a diversity of ways to create data on the web that is highly discoverable.  For example, earlier this week I was looking at a music website which combined aspects of Dublin Core, the Web Ontology Language (OWL, yes the letters are in the wrong order) and LC genre terms to create very powerful and flexible searchability.

So, not only do I see decades-old library-related concepts in the topics that we discuss which are related to the semantic web, I find that the new things that I am learning about how metadata can be used in different contexts is also helping me to think about my work differently and showing me opportunities that I don’t think I would have recognized otherwise.  In addition, the nature of the MOOC brings people from all over the world and from various disciplines together.  I have found it interesting to read what others have to say about metadata and the various related technologies.