About the EdNA Metadata Standard

This page is the entry point for information about metadata relevant to the purposes of EdNA Online. EdNA (Education Network Australia) is a national framework for collaboration on the use of the Internet in education and training.

The EdNA Metadata Standard is based on the internationally recognised Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (DCMES) and is consistent with the Australian Government Locator Service (AGLS). The work of maintaining the EdNA Metadata Standard is conducted by the EdNA Metadata Standard Working Group which reports to the AICTEC Standards Sub-Committee and the limited Board.

The purpose of the EdNA Metadata Standard is to support interoperability across all sectors of education and training in Australia in the area of online resource discovery and management. Adoption of the standard will assist people across education and training engaged in the production and use of well-described digital content.
It will also support the technical requirements for well-structured coding of this content to exchange and serve up data on request. The principal application of the standard at present is to facilitate the aggregation of metadata about educational resources, from all states and territories, and all sectors of education and training, for EdNA Online.
The EdNA Metadata Standard comprises a set of guiding principles together with a set of metadata elements which are situated within the DCMI framework. Version 1.0 of the standard was first published in August 1998 after stakeholder consultation encompassing a period of 18 months. This version (Version 1.1) was ratified by the EdNA Standards sub-committee (now known as the AICTEC Standards Sub-Committee) in December 2000.

For information, comments or questions about the EdNA Metadata Standard, email

Guiding Principles

The EdNA Metadata Standard is based upon:
  • the primary objective of facilitating targeted resource discovery of online eduational resources;
  • a foundation grounded in international metadata standards initiatives, in particular the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) which interoperate with standards developed and promoted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C);
  • remaining interoperable with the DCMI as it introduces refinements to its specification;
  • collaboration aimed at achieving and maintaining cross-sectoral consensus on a national education metadata framework and strategic directions for its evolution (recognising sector-specific requirements within the standard) - in other words, consensus between EdNA nominees from the school education, vocational education and training, and higher education sectors about an interoperable framework which also meets the needs of stakeholders locally;
  • positioning for interoperability with other national and international standards and schema (including intellectual property) - with a view to maintaining a balance between generality and specificity (including consideration of DCMI, AGLS and IMS schema);
  • adopting and promoting the use of authoritative Australian classification schema wherever possible;
  • accommodating local values, such as state-specific learning outcomes information;
  • providing guidance to stakeholders in recommended best practice; and,
  • pragmatic application (including consideration of all associated costs and overheads) with the primary goal of achieving baseline conformance to the standard

On EdNA Online, metadata is used to:
  • assist with user searches by allowing a more detailed specification of the type of material being sought (providing a more refined search than conventional search engines);
  • weight search results so that words contained in metadata elements are given priority over words in the text of a document. (By default, the chance of finding relevant resources even if the user does not explicitly search on a metadata element are also increased.);
  • automatically allocate items to categories in the EdNA Online browse directory;
  • assist with management of EdNA Online content; and,
  • provide general cataloguing information which can enable documents in the EdNA Online database to be searched by other catalogues (for example to allow education documents entered in EdNA to be searched by libraries).

Where Does it Reside?

Metadata does not have to be attached (or embedded) within the documents it describes. In some cases it cannot, or should not. Where external Internet resources are reviewed (or evaluated) by EdNA stakeholders information about these resources, such as a statement of the school level for which it is suitable, are typically managed in repositories (databases). A review of a resource cannot, by definition, reside in a document being reviewed, but it is useful information for inclusion in repositories such as EdNA Online.
Similarly, information about whether documents are suitable for a particular school level might reside in the document, but might be also allocated separately by an EdNA content assessor.
Metadata about a resource can exist in multiple locations although this raises issues of currency, authenticity and other administrative problems.
One of the key foundation philosophies, or principles, of EdNA is to maximise the potential of the networked environment through minimising the duplication of effort. The EdNA Online Harvester (a robot configured to gather metadata) is configured in a manner which adheres to this key principle.

Elements EdNA Metadata Standard 1.1