Linked Data for Open and Distance Learning – Part 3
Continued from Linked Data for Open and Distance Learning – Part 2
The State of Linked Data in (Open) Education
There is a growing base of open educational content being made available online, both in educationspecific resource repositories and in general information sources of relevance to learning and teaching. Having such content accessible and discoverable on the web has a significant potential impact on the way education is delivered and received. Information consumed by educational environments can take many different forms, beyond the base material for teaching and learning (including for example repositories of research articles and descriptions of educational facilities), and the open exposure of such data following the principles of open, linked data is expected to make educational information easier to address, aggregate and reuse for various purposes.
Accordingly, linked data principles are increasingly being adopted by educational institutions in different contexts. Indeed, institutions and initiatives have started using these approaches to expose open data of educational relevance. These include universities, schools and research centres (see LinkedUniversities.org), government agencies (see for example education.data.gov.uk), and projects around specific domains (see for example mEducator).
In (d’Aquin et al., 2013), we described how, as part of the LinkedUp Catalogue of Datasets for Education, we collected and analysed datasets that explicitly reference education and are exposed as linked data. At that time, the catalog contained 146 datasets from 22 different sources. Some datasets originate from universities (e.g. data.open.ac.uk, data.southampton.ac.uk, data.aalto.fi); others from publication repositories (e.g. data.nature.com, dblp.l3s.de), government agencies and standardisation bodies (e.g. education.data.gov.uk), or as the output of specific projects (e.g. meducator.open.ac.uk, data.organic-edunet.eu). All together, the datasets use 588 different types of entities and 719 relations.
While the numbers above do not, by themselves, give us much insight into the current state and growth of linked data in education, they show that, even at this early stage, initiatives are being formed that try to individually exploit the benefits of linked data to expose information of educational relevance. More importantly, as discussed in details in (d’Aquin et al., 2013) and shown through the graphs of Figure 9, each of these initiatives constitutes a contribution to a growing network of data on the Web, which can be used for educational applications, and making open and distance learning easier to implement. Interestingly as well, the LinkedUp catalog is also growing, moving from 22 sources in the initial study to 42 now, reflecting the increasing adoption of linked data in the broad context context of education, with a specific emphasis on open data, and open learning.
A REPORT ON: Linked Data for Open and Distance Learning
Second Edition July 2014
Prepared for the Commonwealth of Learning
by: Mathieu d’Aquin Research Fellow Knowledge Media Institute The Open University, UK