Provisioning sandboxes for next-generation metadata standards

Giving education publishers a place to practice and apply next generation metadata standards to solve the problem of discoverability of high-quality learning resources.
One of our strategic partners, Educational Systemics, approached us about an opportunity to assist with their work to promote the next generation metadata standards to publishers. While the metadata standards themselves were well established when we began, the technology platforms necessary to support them were still very nascent. We dived right into the mix of third-party technical contributors collaborating on the open-source development of the toolsets and eventually built and provisioned a stable set of virtual sandboxes for publishers to use with the new metadata standards.

Challenge

The PreK-12 Learning Group of the Association of American Publishers (formerly known as the Association for Educational Publishers) partnered with Creative Commons and Schema.org to create the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (“LRMI”) to help solve the problem of discoverability and filtering search results of digital curriculum resources. For the project, AEP needed temporary “sandboxes” for publishers to discretely explore the LRMI standards, refine how it applies to their existing workflow, prepare new metadata that conforms with the new LRMI standards and publish it to the Learning Registry, which makes it easier to exchange metadata across multiple sources.

Solution

Our team began by tracking the ongoing development work by other third-party contributors. As the associated technologies became stable in their development, we then provisioned technology infrastructure, installed the necessary components (Couch DB, Nginx, ElasticSearch, Redis, RabbitMQ, Celery, and Kanso Tools among others), and customized their configuration for each publisher sandbox. While our engineering team has experience working with a diverse set of platforms (iOS, Windows 8, Chrome OS, Drupal, and other LAMP applications), this project was working with technology still in active development. 

Outcome

The LRMI sandboxes helped more than a dozen publishers during the pilot program in 2014. In addition, the LRMI sandboxes were used for a multi-state effort to index educational resources being used by North Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky.