About metadata

What is Metadata?

Metadata is structured data about data. On the World Wide Web metadata refers to ‘tagging’ or codified identification used to describe an item of data - that is the cataloguing or indexing of an online resource, website, web page, or any kind of file. Metadata should comply with metadata standards and an agreed syntax. Metadata syntax is based on agreed structures such as the Dublin Core metadata standard. A metadata standard consists of a set of elements with qualifiers. Each of the elements relates to a particular element of the resource - for example: Title, Subject, Description, and URI (Universal Resource Identifier) are four commonly used metadata elements.

Why use Metadata?

The creation of metadata to describe resources assists in resource discovery and resource management. Consistent cataloguing of online resources means maximised opportunities for searchers to find the most relevant and comprehensive set of resources for their purposes. Metadata can also be used to organise, store and retrieve items for information management purposes.

Metadata Standards

The advantage of using a metadata standard is that your data will interoperate with others that use the same standard. Most metadata initiatives look to a generic ‘parent’ framework. Within the education community, the two key parent frameworks are Dublin Core Metadata and IMS. Within Australia the EdNA Metadata Standard is agreed across all education sectors by the education sectors in each state and territory. The EdNA Metadata Standard is based on Dublin Core and is interoperable with AGLS, and Australian Standard, and The Learning Federation Metadata Application Profile which was developed to provide a framework for describing learning objects in the school education sector.

edna and the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative

In line with Australian whole-of-government initiatives and international metadata efforts the EdNA Reference Committee (now the Australian Information and Communication Technologies in Education Committee (AICTEC)) agreed that the EdNA Metadata Standard be based on the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set. The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) is an international collaborative effort to establish and maintain standards for describing Internet resources with the aims of enabling targeted resource discovery and interoperability of information exchange. For detailed information see the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative Australian Mirror Site
Key principles of the Dublin Core metadata specification relevant to edna include:
  • Simplicity: The DCMES is intended to be usable by both resource description specialists as well as non-experts.·
  • Interoperability: Promoting a commonly understood set of descriptors that enable the discovery of online information resources from across subject and interest domains.
  • Extensibility: The DCMES is intended as a core element set, or baseline, from which different communities can extend to meet their own specific needs - these can manifest as different levels of interoperability (local, domain-specific, national, global).·
  • Refinement: A set of recommended qualifiers (element refinements and encoding schemes) is available to refine the elements and identify standard schemes which define the content in various elements where more precision or control over content is required.
  • Dumbing-Down: The contents of DCMES descriptions will always make sense without the use of qualifiers so that elements are useful in applications which are not configured to handle the syntax of qualifiers being used in particular communities. The principle is known as the "dumb-down" principle.

Related metadata initiatives

edna metadata application profile 2.0

encoding schemes


Archive: EdNA Metadata Standard 1.1