FIG Working Week 2000, 21-26 May, Prague

Educational Metadata

by Bela Markus 

Key words: CPD, distance education, training, virtual academy, metadata. 


The criteria for entry to the EU established at the Copenhagen European Council of June 1993 include the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the ability to cope with competitive pressures and market forces within the Union. Fundamental to this is the existence of a sound and flexible system of Land Administration, to apply the acquis, and identified elements essential in the land administration. In Hungary the education and professional development of this system has since 1973 been supported by University of West Hungary, College of Surveying and Land Management (CSLM). Under the aegis of CSLM considerable advances in technology and in corresponding education support have been made since 1989. However, there remain weaknesses in CEE countries that are critical for meeting the EU criterion and for addressing the issue of Institution Building. These were identified in the United Nations Meetings of Officials in Land Administration (UN MOLA) Workshop on Land Market in 1998 in Budapest: Lack of education in the management, legal, economic, human and ethical aspects of land administration, General lack of user oriented approach to education, Lack of continuity in education from universities to professions and appropriate linkage between the two.

In the last four years CSLM has been involved in four European Union funded distance learning material development projects targeting professionals in land administration and land / geographic information management and leading at present EU projects on continuing professional developments. For the staff of Land Offices and Surveying / GIS companies distance learning offers a particularly flexible and effective way of training, eliminating most of the barriers, providing much better accessibility than traditional education.

There are three common strategic elements in these projects. First, the creation of a knowledge centre at CSLM which will form the base for programmes of education for continuing professional development for Land Administration in Hungary utilising existing programmes developed under the TEMPUS OLLO Project and the existing Land Administration infrastructure. To these will be added new programmes for higher management and a set of programmes for all levels in Land Administration focussing on matters pertinent to EU entry. Second, a delivery system for continuing professional development based on adapted curriculum structures, management tools and education technology, both CD and web, with a comprehensive credit system. Third, the creation of a network of EU centres and education providers with the objective of participating fully in EU activities in Land Administration and the EU professional community.

The course material development is based on knowledge base approach and the course delivery on a distributed environment. The CSLM acts as a knowledge centre developer, land office study centres and high schools are dealing with course delivery. This necessitates the use of metadata on the educational resources. Metadata is a description of learning objects (like courses, subjects, learning materials, learning units, documents or educational services) which may contain data about their form and content. The best known metadata to us librarians are the catalogue records for printed publications. Metadata is widely used outside libraries as well, e.g. in GIS data warehouses.

The reason for creating metadata, from the provider perspective, is to improve the possibilities of retrieval as well as to support control and management of learning objects. Distance learning materials and services with their abundance of different formats and control measures might not always be usable directly by everyone: the format might be unfamiliar or unreadable, the content might be encrypted, otherwise prohibited or only permitted after payment, the resource might be large, difficult or time consuming to access etc.

After the first investigations became clear the Dublin Core will be valuable for many reasons. The Dublin Core became a standard, metadata records could be understood across user communities The metadata record created with the Dublin Core could serve as the basis for a more detailed description if the need arises. The Dublin Core is flexible enough to modify with the experience of other researches (Warwick Framework, Learning Object Metadata Group, ARIADNE project etc.).

The author gives a review of the results, present status and future activities of the projects of CSLM in building a virtual academy and the efforts made in designing and implementing an educational metadata base.

Prof. Bela Markus
Department of Geoinformatics
College of Surveying and Land Management
The University of West Hungary
Pirosalma 1-3
8000 Szekesfehervar

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