There are more sectors out there than just education!
Yes, that is right Education is not the only sector faced with issues on technological change! I had a nice reminder of this in attending the ISKO meeting at UCL last night. For the first time since the Online Information conference at Olympia I was actually the minority at an event: that is to say, I was one of three people from the education sector where the rest of the two dozen on hand were from gov’t or the business sector. It was extremely refreshing to listen to the problems that these other sectors are having (which are exactly the same issues we face in education): Gov’t efforts to put in place keywords that the general public will understand (faceted taxonomies); how the business sector is struggling to create their information architecture with dispersed repositories (which in the Business sector is called “ECMs” – Enterprise Content Managment systems); and how the BBC has the same issues with getting staff to communicate be that via a wiki or face-to-face.
At these kind of events I am reminded that education is in actuality the tortoise in the race to digital nirvana. We cannot afford to make mistakes or pursue venture capital ideas, rather we must stay the course of our ideas and make sure we invest wisely. Of course, this means learning from mistakes, and there is no better sector to watch do this than business (don’t get me wrong I’m not criticising business, I’m just saying they have the money to make mistakes and learn from them). So to must we learn from their mistakes as they sprint towards the finish line.
A “mistake” in particular worth mentioning is the dispersion of content collections. Business don’t have one or two repositories, they have dozens (and in the case of the BBC hundreds). Furthermore, companies are tied into these systems because they have invested so heavily in their existence. As demonstrated by the presentation given by SchemaLogic the real challenge is making these systems easier to access and update so they can be efficiently searched. How can the education sector better architect their collections and repositories so that when we do begin to have objects in the millions we will be prepared? Should we use only one repository? Should that repository be vendor or open source? How will staff be managed so they can easily administer the system? What are the stress points in providing a content infrastructure? Is it scalable? All of these questions we will need to begin to address right now, if we are not to repeat what has gone before. And it is the other sectors outside of education that have the answers!