The word “metadata” has been spoken so many times in news reports over the past few years that it is surely now part of the collective public consciousness. But how well does the average American understand what metadata is and how it is used? This interesting question came to us from EdSurge in their article, “Making Sense of Metadata in Personalized Learning Platforms.”

Metadata is getting a bad rep. It isn’t just used to protect or invade privacy. In education, where technology offers the potential to “personalize” the learning experience for students, metadata is critical. Even the federal government, in their #GoOpen campaign, has acknowledged the value of metadata for its ability to make high-quality, openly licensed educational resources more easily discoverable.

At a high level, metadata is simply data that helps describe other data. Today, metadata is electronic, but historically, it was contained in a library card catalog. Remember those? Metadata consists of tags generated by some combination of computers and humans.

Managing data presents its own set of challenges. Entering the data is easy. Storing the data is efficient. However, finding the data with obvious searches does not always happen with ease. Use of data based on metatagging and indexing is essential to improve this process.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.