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New spec could improve educational web searches

Efforts to tag instructional resources to make them easier to find move forward

New spec could improve educational web searches

First, Schema.org has to formally approve the LRMI specification and make the spec a part of its framework. According to sources, a decision on this is expected very soon.

Once Schema.org approves the spec, search engines such as Google and Bing have to build it into their systems for delivering search results. The timetable for this to happen is up to the search engines themselves, meaning users of one search engine might experience the benefits of LRMI’s efforts faster than users of another.

How well the LRMI spec improves educational web searches also depends on how many publishers of educational materials tag their content according to the spec.

The effort is a highly technical undertaking, but AEP marketing manager Dave Gladney said his organization is holding several webinars and other information sessions to help publishers learn more about the project and how they can participate. The day-long meetings immerse attendees in LRMI details and help them learn more about the content tagging process.

By creating a standard tagging framework and establishing best practices to use when tagging content according to this framework, AEP and Creative Commons hope educators will be able to find valuable resources more easily. In fact, one of the most often-cited barriers to the use of open educational resources and other online content is that educators frequently are overwhelmed when searching for and assessing the validity of resources.

“They’re all driving toward a vision of personalized learning—being able to use data to deliver the products or resources that students need, right at the time they need them,” Gladney said.

AEP and Creative Commons are in the process of creating a detailed adoption and implementation guide for content developers who want to tag their resources using the LRMI spec, and Gladney said that guidance from the project’s newest phase should be published sometime in early 2013.

Classroom Inc., Federal Reserve Bank New York, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Learning Media, LearningStation, Pearson Education, Rosen Publishing, PCI Education, Saddleback Educational Publishing, William H. Sadlier, Inc., Super Duper Publications, Utah Education Network, and Virtual Nerd all are participating in the second phase.

“LRMI will make it much easier for speech-language pathologists, special educators, teachers, and parents to find materials that will meet the needs of their children,” said Super Duper Publications Editor Beth Holland.

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