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ETB was presented in the Experts meeting on European Cultural Heritage on the Web. Read the position paper that gives an overall view of quality, multilinguality and interoperability issues in the project.

Brussels, July 17, 2001
Experts meeting on European Cultural Heritage on the Web

POSITION PAPER ON
European Schools Treasury Browser
European Treasury Browser Offers:
- Entrypoint to European-wide educational resources on the Web
- Multilinguality, accepts submission of resources in any language
- Provide a simple search interface, Thesaurus browse and free text search
- Can be used by anyone

Abstract:
European Treasury Browser brings existing European wide web-based educational resources within reach of the teachers and pupils. This will be provided by the ETB-network, which educational repositories, i.e. servers holding educational resources, can join with minimum cost and technical requirements.

Each educational repository joining the ETB network will maintain their own identity and editorial policy. For European educational repositories ETB means that their local users will have access to more material from different European educational sources in their own interest fields while still being assured of quality of the resources.

Repository can decide what kind of educational material or collections they want to make available for the network. In the same way they can select material from the network that is convenient for their users' profiles and needs. Only the data about resources, i.e. metadata, is circulated over the network.

Other major asset of ETB is the possibility to search through all the resources submitted into the network. The EUN native repository provides this. It will have an easy-to-use multilingual look supporting different ways to search. It will also be possible to submit resources to the network through the EUN native repository.

ETB is one of the ICT projects within the European Schoolnet (EUN), which is a network of networks, supported by 23 national Ministries of Education and the European Commission. EUN promotes the use of new information and communication technologies (ICT) in schools and offers Internet-based services to European schools.

1. Recommendation on Quality Assurance and Selection of resources
for the ETB network
2. Multilinguality and the ETB Thesaurus
3. Interoperability


1. Recommendation on Quality Assurance and Selection of resources for the ETB-network

ETB-network will have participants from local, national and European wide repositories of educational material in different subject areas. ETB is offering users the possibility to search multilingual, classified, high quality educational material within all the repositories in the network. This enhances the results and adds a European cultural and lingual flavor to the use of ICT in educational settings.

Quality of resources is a key factor in ETB. There are recommendations on quality assurance procedures provided by the workpackage dealing with the Quality Assurance of the project. These recommendations are aiming at two different groups: there are guidelines on quality processes and recommendations for (1) teachers and (2) repository managers.


The first set of recommendations aims at teachers working in the educational settings using web-based material. On one hand the recommendations deal with the aspects educators must keep in mind while creating the content of their own material. In other words these recommendations are focused on the process of developing the resources. The recommendations are also to consider when a teacher or a student wants to submit material to the ETB-network through the EUN native repository.


On the other hand these recommendations are good to keep in mind when searching and selecting already existing material or products from the Web. (Note the differentiation between quality of development process and product itself, this is what CEN/ISSS Learning Technology Workshop - Quality Assessment Group is looking into. )


The recommendations on the developing process of material are much in agreement with GEM's indications and with DESIRE :


· Accuracy: the resource must be reliable, valid and produced by a Trused source; information should be impartially presented; resource must not contain biases, mistakes or omissions.

· Appropriateness: the resource should contain information for the intended learners' level; the resource should use an appropriate and suitable vocabulary, language or concepts, avoid mistakes or stereotyping.


· Clarity: information should provide a clear tie between the purpose (goals, objectives) and the content and procedures suggested. Correlation should be comprehensive and obvious. Redundancy is usually unwelcome and isolated activities without a relationship are superfluous.


· Completeness: the resource should be complete, i.e., offer all essential information and elements, as well as inclusion of such components as self-contained activities, materials required, prerequisites, information for obtaining related resources, assessment criteria, links to quality indicators and standards. The resource should offer wide and in-depth information related to the topic.


· Motivation: the resource should achieve the active engagement of the learner and be interesting, innovative and appealing, build on prior knowledge and skills, and promote relevant action on the part of the learner.


· Organisation: the resource should be easy to use and logically sequenced, with each segment of the resource related to other segments. It should flow in an orderly manner, using organising tools (i.e. headings, a map, etc.) and avoiding use of unrelated elements that are potentially ineffective or overpowering; it should provide for references, bibliographies and other supporting materials available for the users.

The second set of recommendations is for repository owners, i.e. managers, curators and/or administrators of an educational server . This group is strictly responsible for submitting and administrating the metadata records circulating on the network. The recommendations will deal with issues that matter for the network; i.e. what kind of material is wanted for the ETB-network.


Every joining repository carries out documentation processing (source selection, documentary processing, information processing and diffusion) in relation to its target users whose needs have been analysed. However, it is important to emphasise that repositories are not supposed to submit all of the records of resources and collections to the network; quality, European level and good practice of resources is a priority issue of ETB rather than sheer numbers.

Factors of Quality

ETB aims to represent a European documentation system, where the actors use documentary standards (metadata), selection criteria and quality assurance procedures which are common to the system and established in advance.


Submission of records is based on the policy that all the records have to pass a local quality assessment before being submitted to the network. This is in the responsibility of each member repository and highly emphasised by the ETB when member is joining the network. This allows ETB to state that a repository becoming a member of the ETB-network already indicates that resources are of a good quality.

Secondly, the repositories shall make their quality assurance policy and quality assessment procedures available for everybody on the Web. This allows users to evaluate weather the quality assessment policy of resources meets their demands whilst assure them about the material found through the ETB. These two requirements create the base principal for "Trusted sources" in the ETB-network.


ETB judges four (4) factors valuable for quality assurance of the learning resources that are submitted to the network. These factors are Trusted Source (as explained above), Usefulness, Attractiveness and Satisfaction. These four factors of quality of material are top level terms containing several sub-factors, which are, in their turn, again linked back to the top-level factors (see Figure 1). These factors don't pretend to be exhaustive standards of quality, but more acting as methodological guidelines and recommendations for achieving better quality.


Usefulness, for example, is linked to the "Information quality" and "Learning capability" (see Figure 1), what kind of skills learner gets from using the material. Since each learning situation is different it is impossible to define one set of quality standards that will fulfill all the needs of end users. This is why the metadata records of learning material, i.e. documentation system of resources, attempt to describe the frame and setting as well as possible.


This is where the factor Usefulness is linked to the metadata issue; how well and detailed the metadata records of learning material are described, structured and if they are consistent. Naturally, if all the elements of the ETB datamodel are used (look at http://www.en.eun.org/eun.org2/goto.cfm?did=5874), the information of the material is more complete and more informative, hence of higher quality.

This emphasises the importance of use of factor Satisfaction too. ETB believes that if the end user is provided with enough information of the resource s/he will be able to decide weather a piece of material in concern meets the standards s/he has in mind. Thus, the overall satisfaction to the material, and also to the documentation system, will be enhanced.


The factor for Attractiveness of resources might sound pretentious and outplace in the list of factors judged valuable. But the playfulness and attractiveness is not to neglect, after all it is an important asset of using ICT in the educational setting. ETB promotes explorative, innovative and enjoyable learning material that can make educational setting appealing and attractive to its audience.


The two sets of recommendations introduced in this chapter are described in a very general way. They will be further developed and completed in the document D 3.2 Recommendation on Quality Assurance and Selection of resources for the ETB network, which will come out in the beginning of 2002.

Features of ETB Quality Concept Sub terms Top level term
Figure 1: Factors judged valuable for ETB and sub-terms.

Possible participation of audience:

· Virtual ETB Quality Forum
o Starting on the 17th of September for 3 weeks period
o Available through the ETB website at http://etb.eun.org
o Subscribe for a reminder at etb@eun.org

 


2. Multilinguality and the ETB Thesaurus

ETB promotes multilingualism: everyone should be able to have learning material in their own language. Therefore it is possible to insert educational material into the ETB network in all languages. The user's interface will be provided multilingually. Users can browse through the indexing elements of the Thesaurus. This allows users to find multilingual material. For example even if the search is done only in one language it gives results in another. There is also a free text search possibility. Searches can be made in all ETB languages, which are, for the moment English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. Extensions to Swedish, Danish and Greek are will be done by the end of the project.

ETB has included a multilingual thesaurus in the implementation of its information system. In this way a good balance between the numbers of retrieved documents and their relevance is assured. A multilingual thesaurus:

1. Guarantees the effective control of the indexing language, covering each selected concept with a preferred term in each language and ensuring inter-language equivalence among these descriptors;


2. Provides a systematic display of the descriptors, making navigation through the terminology easier;


3. Allows indexing and searching by combining several descriptors ex post, in order to refine and personalise both the semantic description and the information retrieval.

Keeping in mind on one hand the importance of standardisation in an international setting and, on the other hand, the opportunity of creating a logical and coherent searching tool decision to establish a new ETB thesaurus was made. Refrain from using one of the existing multilingual thesauri in the field of education came from the consideration that none of them encompasses the scope envisaged by the ETB project, i.e. the content of educational multimedia materials, in a satisfactory way. Although potentially useful for gathering terminology, they cover either the educational system or even teaching contents, but only at a university level.


Among the major criteria orienting decisions for descriptors the following are stressed:


1. Equal status of all the linguistic areas is a very important issue in a European context. Accordingly, each language will have a complete display of the thesaurus. Even if English was chosen as a working language, no language is to be considered a priori a leading language; the possibility of some feed-back from one language to another in establishing inter-language equivalents will always be open;


2. European conceptual approach. The terminology is supposed to reflect a European rather than a national or local approach. That doesn't necessarily mean denying access to information from a local point of view: thanks to the typical thesaurus structure, it can be guaranteed to some extent through specific non-descriptors;


3. Importance of combining deductive and inductive approaches in establishing the terminology. If existing thesauri and/or glossaries can give a general outline both of the content of education and of educational methods/strategies, only a terminological analysis of available European educational repositories can provide direct and updated evidence of the concepts circulating in the field;


4. Necessity of creating a friendly documentary tool, in order to encourage access of non-specialists to relevant information.

The ETB thesaurus

The ETB thesaurus (alphabetical, systematic, rotated display) can be downloaded at:
http://etb.eun.org or http://www.en.eun.org/eun.org2/goto.cfm?did=7208.

It is now available in five languages which are English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Extensions in Swedish and Danish are currently under way and will be implemented in the 1st phase of the internal pilot. At least a Greek version will also be developed.

The general criteria and methodology for constructing the ETB multilingual thesauri have been established and consolidated through an ISO standard (ISO5964/1995) and rich technical literature.


See more on this on the ETB website in the article written by Marisa Trigari at:
http://www.en.eun.org/eun.org2/goto.cfm?did=3813.


ETB thesaurus includes 1053 descriptors. It overlaps with

· EET + Ortelius: 62% (countries and language descriptors excluded)
· EUN thesaurus: 22,50% (almost totally included in the above 62%)

The scope of ETB thesaurus:


· Content of multimedia educational materials subordinately,
· Content of teaching, guidance, evaluation, and administration supporting materials.

ETB thesaurus includes 25 micro-thesauri:


o individual development
o learning / research
o school activities
o leisure activities
o teaching / training / evaluation / guidance
o educational system
o content of education: 8 sub-groups, see the graph pie
o facilities / equipment / materials : 3 sub-groups
o communication / information / document
o culture
o political /social / interpersonal relations
o health / safety / handicap
o environment
o society
o international organisations
o countries and geopolitical areas
o languages


Click jere for Figure 2: Content of education by subject

ETB thesaurus will be used in the ETB native repository and it will also be encouraged to use it in the existing repositories which enter the ETB network.
If the repository is using already a classification system or a thesaurus, this will be mapped into the ETB thesaurus to allow the interoperability with the network.

Possible participation of audience in:

· Testing ETB thesaurus
· Feedback on usability of terms for possible changes, adjustments, for deeper revision of terms and possible scope notes by terminological experts
· Accessible through http://etb.eun.org or directly at http://www.en.eun.org/eun.org2/goto.cfm?did=7208.


3. Interoperability

The ETB-network is based on the Network News Protocol (NNTP).Each resource is described by a metadata record, which contains a pointer to the Internet resource. The ETB metadata standard is defined; it is based on Dublin Core. In the network the records will be send in XML format, which will facilitate interoperability.

This format independent record is defined as an XML DTD and transferred across the network. The repository will be provided with an API to allow a plugging to a local management software. The cross-walk or mapping system to reference each particular schema to the standard ETB metadata schema is contained within each record through a <meaning> tag. This tag contains the URI of a given attribute semantics and can in this way be mapped to the standard ETB Metadata format.


It is a large challenge to the project to connect up disparate repositories supporting both local metadata schemes and local classification schemes to cerate a network of rich added value at the European level. Therefore it is essential that an ease of integration and flexibility is maintained so that repositories are willing to join the network, while always maintaining a simple and transparent view of the resources to the end user.


A major feature of ETB is the adoption of a multilingual thesaurus, which will be transmitted across the network. The thesaurus is essential for multi-lingual searching and for metadata classification. The thesaurus itself is being defined as an XML object based schema, cross-linking terms through broader, narrower and related links.


In addition to a central metadata repository and thesaurus driven search interface a EUN native repository will be built which supports the ETB metadata standard natively, provides a thesaurus driven classification interface, and allows teachers and external users to submit new records to the network. The native repository will also be offered to those organisations without an existing metadata infrastructure.


The key new technology used for the dynamic ETB metadata-network is the resource description framework (RDF). RDF enables the thesaurus and metadata records to be send to the network in an unambiguous fashion. This will then be transmitted over the NNTP (NEWS) network that forms the core of the ETB with an XML format. The diagram below gives an overview of the ETB-network. The network will be served by a set of NNTP servers. These servers are pre-configured according to the ETB rules.


Click here for Figure 3: Architecture Overview

Technical maneuvers are kept minimum in the ETB network. The software toolkit connects repository to the network and allows configuring the mappings of metadata and classification where appropriate. This software toolkit is free of charge, and is based on the open source policy. Technical assistance is available from the ETB partners if needed.


It is provided that only metadata records circulate in the network. Moderation, submission and control of these records are performed by the originator at source, i.e. owner or curator of the member repository.


Software toolkit also consists of a record submission. It allows the repository owner/curator to post new metadata records into the network and has a record retrieval system. This retrieves new editions of records posted into the network by other repositories and informs the local administrator of the latest updates.


Members of the network can define their own criteria. For example a given repository may decide a selection on language and/or subject keyword that they want to accept from the network. In the same way they can chose to accept resources automatically from all the member repositories or name their own list of repositories, so called list of trusted sources, from where they allow the records automatically while preferring to check records from other sources before letting them to be posted on their own repository. This guarantees that the end users of the repository are provided with the larger variety of European resources in their own interest field.


Members receive feeds of records submitted by others. These records are translated to the local format and can be input into the normal record submission system used at the local repository. Records appear just as if submitted for example by a national editor or teacher, and remain under local editorial control. Likewise records are "posted" to the network under the full control of the local administrator. So only records deemed to be of broader European interest or "Best practices" circulate on the network.


ETB Datamodel and Metadata Mapping


The ETB datamodel is combined from two sets of elements, both dealing with different levels. ETB Metadata Element set on resource level and Collection Level Descriptors (CLD) to identify the entire collection of resources.


The first set is the ETB Metadata Elements, which deals with individual resource level. The ETB Metadata element set is created as a minimal common denominator set for the exchange of records over the ETB network i.e. it is not the same as an element set for a repository. The ETB Metadata Element Set includes 6 mandatory elements. ETB Metadata Element Set can be extended to include some local fields.


Following the list of mandatory elements:

Label: Title
Definition: A name given to the resource.
Type: Element
ETB Obligation: Mandatory

Label: Description
Definition: An account of the content of the resource.
Type: Element
ETB Obligation: Mandatory
Label: Language of resource
Definition: A language of the intellectual content of the resource.
Type: Element
ETB Obligation: Mandatory

Label: Identifier
Definition: An unambiguous reference to the resource within a given context.
Type: Element
ETB Obligation: Mandatory

Label: Subject ETB Thesaurus
Definition: The topic of the content of the resource.
Type: Element
ETB Obligation: Mandatory

Label: Audience
Definition: The intended users of the resource.
Type: Element
ETB Obligation: Mandatory


These six elements are encouraged to use by the repositories joining the network. The other recommended elements are Label: Type, Label: Publisher, Label: Creator, Label: Subject Keywords, Label: Rights Management, Label: Contributor, Label: Source, Label: Learning Situation, Label: ETB User Comments and Label: Aggregation Level.


In case the six mandatory elements of the ETB schema is not used, a mapping between the local metadata schema and the ETB schema is essential for the network to operate smoothly. The software enables an automatic translation of metadata records extracted from the local database, posts them to the ETB network and maps them to fit the ETB schema.


There are 12 mandatory elements for Collection Level Description (CLD). This description of the repository is produced only once and it serves as an identity card or catalogue for the collection that a repository holds. CLD improves the user's resource discovery by well defined descriptions of the network collections, hence it enhances information retrieval and also overall quality. In addition, the CLD benefit the collections; the owner or curator of a collection can reveal information about its existence and availability to users in a standardised manner by using a machine-readable format that is structured.

· List of CLD elements and more information available on the ETB website at http://www.en.eun.org/eun.org2/goto.cfm?did=5874
http://www.en.eun.org/eun.org2/goto.cfm?did=3829.
· More ETB articles on the website:
o About the ETB-network by Clive Best
http://www.en.eun.org/eun.org2/goto.cfm?did=2384
o Exchanging metadata by Tommy Byskov:
http://www.en.eun.org/eun.org2/goto.cfm?did=2385

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Information:
Author: Riina Vuorikari
Web Editor: Riina Vuorikari
Published: Thursday, 2 Aug 2001
Last changed: Thursday, 2 Aug 2001
Keywords: ETB, eEurope, cultural heritage