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 Forum on Quality - Week III -Summary

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The last week of the virtual workshop was dedicated to the issues dealing with quality within the documentation system of ETB. The idea reflected in the background paper is in short - the more transparent the documentation on the selection criteria is, the better it serves the information need of the users, thus higher quality can be achieved. Available at

In the ETB-network the repository curators and managers hold a key position, they are the ones able to insert records about learning resources into the network. A lot of responsibility therefore relies on the concept of 'trusted source'; the origin, and the availability of the selection criteria and quality policy implied to the selection of these resources. This view seemed to be reinforced by the two representatives of repositories, Tommy Byskov-Lund from the Danish Infoguide ( and Marisa Trigari form the Italian national educational repository ( (Both are ETB partners)

From the Infoguide's user feedback it is understood that the end-users, here teachers, appreciate 'a brief description of the resource, and the knowledge that somebody has actually had a closer look at this resource and found it valuable for educational purposes'.

Along the same line is the comment of Trigari 'As for specific educational resources, at least in our educational setting, teachers keep trusting the opinion of eminent scholars/institutions, of the repository itself, if it has good reputation, of valued colleagues, as a quality mark... Good technical features and user friendliness (in great demand) are asked for; as for the contents, what's important for the teachers is that selectors and selection criteria are made explicit, in order to - so to say - evaluate the evaluation.'

Another remark form the Infoguide deals with reassuring feature of a community of colleagues behind the quality selection. It notes that 'they [teachers] are happy that some of their colleagues have done most of the job, sorting out relevant hits from the often massive number of hits you get using major search engines, but the final evaluation of whether it is useful is of course done by themselves'

As for information of the resource itself the 'bare necessities' of metadata, such as title and description, seems to be sufficient in the first place. Even in the Infoguide's services it is reported that only 20% of users actually take a look at the additional information, which includes fields about author, publisher, keywords etc. Although some teachers have indicated that having the author/publisher information adds value to their decision making process.

On the Italian side Marisa Trigari notes that the teachers using their Internet catalogues services value, in order of importance:
- the richest possible access to the documents by content (specific topic)/ context (school/age level, discipline) descriptors;
- the possibility of  free searching including all the elements of the record;
- presence of  an abstract;
- accurate but not redundant description.
A piece of evidence for the above stated priority is that searching by subject covers the 90% of the search statements in the Italian data-bases.

These temoignages lead us to suspect that the documentation system the ETB is planning to build upon, including metadata on the collection and resource level, is well in place and answers the needs of teachers and other end-users of such services.

Other issue in the contributions of the third week dealt with the class room situation and how little actually is known about it. This was written by Gunther Dippe from Göteborg University. He strongly believes that 'we cannot discuss quality factors within the ETB project as separate entities but rather as part of a very complex system - the educational system'.

Dippe goes on 'When we suggest teacher quality work in schools within this project, we should be aware that we most of the time presume that we know what is going on rather than that we actually know what is going on. The quality work we suggest might fit into one teacher's work but it might as well not fit.'

In was commented by Riina Vuorikari from European Schoolnet that there are good examples of teachers involvement and usage of resources, a resent event eSchola was brought up ( There were over 1000 schools participating and submitting their classroom- and school projects for the event. About 2/3 of all submissions are presented in the Leading Edge database, where the most interesting projects are made searchable. This gives a versatile outlook on how teachers use ICT in their everyday practices. It also gives some ground for the idea of a wider use of ETB quality recommendations for teachers in the classroom, as Dippe also suggested.

The issues of classroom use of web-based learning resources was commented by Marisa Trigari too. She classifies the learning resources according to the possible teacher-users who could be called 'early adapters' and 'followers', touching the theme that was also presented during the first week of forum.

She prioritised the following issue: 'how effectively and ingeniously teachers use WEB resources' and proposed that 'no short recommendations or teacher guides can solve that. As I wrote in the first round of this forum, this problem deals with the wider and extremely more complex issue of the teacher education nowadays.'

Other issues dealt with the quality factors that ETB judges valuable, and some concrete examples of 'attractive' learning material were given.
Unfortunately the discussion of the controlled vocabulary of 'Quality Policy Level' was not activated, which leave us to believe that it actually fits
to its purpose. This remains to be tested in the pilot face of the project, which will be launched in coming winter.

All the contributions of all the three different fora are archived on the collaboration platform, and also on the ETB-website (, available for everyone under the subsection 'Quality'. The platform remains functional, and if wanted, the communication can continue.

As organiser of the Virtual Workshop of Web-based Learning Resources and work package leader of Quality Issues in ETB, I'd like to thank everybody for contributing in this workshop. The correspondences have been the most interesting, inspiring, and certainly also educative!

The ETB-group thanks and withdraws to elaborate the ideas for further development!

Riina Vuorikari
European Schoolnet
European Treasury Browser
Author: Riina Vuorikari
Web Editor: Riina Vuorikari
Published: Thursday, 11 Oct 2001
Last changed: Friday, 12 Oct 2001
Keywords: etb, quality-issues, virtual forum, summary