Digital Learning Metadata Alliance


Dublin Core Metadata Initiative  IDPF
IMS Global

Digital Learning Metadata Alliance (

DLMA represents the standards-setting representatives of over 530 of the leading digital publishing, educational technology and e-learning organizations worldwide via its stakeholder organizations. Collectively the DLMA stakeholder organizations have over 60 years tenure as successful standards-setting organizations. Our mission is to coordinate metadata standards adoption and development in support of digital learning and education across the educational technology, publishing, web and library communities via existing metadata frameworks while encouraging innovation and the evolution to next generation metadata frameworks.

Background and Need

Over the last two decades, core metadata schemas describing learning resources have evolved in a number of communities serving different constituencies. The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI), a global community committed to metadata innovation and best practices, developed education extensions to its Dublin Core Element Set to support resource discovery across the web for use by the educational publishing and library communities. The e-Learning community developed the widely used IEEE Learning Object Metadata (LOM). Most recently, ISO is in the process of standardizing the multi-part Metadata for Learning Resources (MLR) with the intention of being compatible with both LOM and Dublin Core. These metadata framework activities have been joined by the initiative to develop a simple-to-apply markup language to support resource discovery on the Web. As this metadata ecosystem grows more diverse, unmet demands multiply to make practical sense of this diversity in support of rational implementation of systems.

The IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS Global) community has encouraged and facilitated adoption of both the DCMI and LOM standards. Both the DCMI and LOM standards have proven to be highly comprehensive, flexible and extensible schemas that have been adopted across a very wide variety of learning technology products and regions around the world. Making sense of how the emerging metadata frameworks fit into, and harmonizes with, today’s successful implementations is one of the challenges DLMA will address.

The DCMI and LOM metadata standards were both substantially ahead of their time in that the education, publishing and library sectors are just now seeing on the horizon the potential predominance of digital resources over print. The ubiquitous nature of the Worldwide Web, the emergence of viable e-books and the interest by school districts and universities in reaping the benefits of digital versus print are spurring increasing levels of adoption of digital resources in the education and learning sector. New cross-community initiatives, such as EDUPUB, championed by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and IMS Global, as well as the nearly ubiquitous adoption of enterprise learning platforms and learning object repositories, have motivated renewed interest in the importance of metadata in support not only of learning resource discovery but also resource management and curation. Metadata must now be usable not just within a single system, community or domain, but must be usable across domains and systems in order to meet the emerging needs of digital learning and education.

The Digital Learning Metadata Alliance (DLMA)

The Digital Learning Metadata Alliance (DLMA) is a new cross-organization collaboration among a growing number of standards organizations leading the charge to coordinate metadata standards evolution to serve the emerging needs stated above. DLMA is not a new organization or a new standard, but rather a coordination of existing and ongoing efforts. The DLMA organizations have agreed to cooperate and speak with a unified voice in the following areas:

  1. Providing best practices and conformance certification to accelerate adoption of DLMA profiles of existing metadata schemas for use by institutional and supplier organizations.
  2. Coordinating the evolution of existing metadata standards schemas so that there is consistency and usability across the e-Learning, education, library and publishing communities.
  3. Working with microdata, microformats, RDFa and web search organizations, such as, to enable simplified mark-up language derivatives of the core schemas to be embedded in HTML/web pages.
  4. Putting in place appropriate procedures to ensure sustainable internationalization of the DLMA coordinated metadata efforts.

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