The prefix "meta" simply means one level of description higher. Metadata is therefore data that describes data. It is used to index and classify material.

Much like the card catalogue in a library, metadata is designed to aid in the online search for relevant sources. It uses a number of pre-defined elements to represent attributes of the resource. An example of these elements would be title, author, format and description.

Because there is no standard for metadata on the Internet, researchers, educators and students quickly become frustrated in their attempts to find relevant and useful educational material. Developing a "standard" metadata set, such as CanCore, is therefore an essential part of an educational object repository. For eduSourceCanada, CanCore will be used as its metadata application profile.

It is important that resources (or learning objects) be catalogued in a way that allows easy recognition and searching. Not only will this provide a much greater level of access to relevant online sources across Canada but it will act as a lead for any other repository projects that are created. As the amount of digital information contained within these repositories continues to grow, they will have a backbone of interoperability that will avoid the fundamental problem of "information blindness" on the Internet.


An Introduction to Metadata By Chris Taylor.
University of Queensland, April 1, 1999. A good introduction to metadata and searching.

DESIRE Information Gateway Handbooks chapter 2.3
"Metadata formats"

DESIRE Information Gateways Handbook chapter 2.4
The DESIRE (Development of a European Service for Information on Research and Education) group has compiled an extensive and comprehensive handbook designed to support libraries and other organizations interested in setting up large-scale information gateways on the Internet. These two chapters address metadata attributes and formats, and cataloguing guidelines and maintenance.

Meta-Objects - An Object Oriented approach to metadata
by Matthew Dovey. Ariadne Vol. 19, March 19, 1999
Author Matthew Dovey argues for the adoption of an object-oriented approach to metadata to reflect shifts in computer science.

Canadian Core Application Profile
The Canadian specification for metadata, known as "CanCore".

Dublin Core Metadata Element Set
The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, is a community of individuals from organizations and institutions all over the world.

IMS Metadata Set
IMS is a global consortium working to develop and promote open specifications for facilitating online distributed learning activities.