Saturday, July 11, 2009

Designing a course module in Metadata and Electronic Data Management

How do I create a course module on "Metadata and Electronic Data Management"? This year I have again been asked to help teach students in the course Information Technology in Electronic Commerce (COMP3410) at ANU.

The content will be much the same as last year, but I would like to package the material up more neatly. This is partly prompted by my resolution last year that I had given my last lecture. Also the material currently lacks a coherent theme as is much longer than it should be. In addition I would like to revise some of the material which is based on old EDI standards and old Australian government records management guidelines.

How much?

But where to start? The first step is to get some idea of how much material is required. Previously I gave about five or six lectures and a lab covering the material. This equates to about two weeks of a course.

Last years notes for the course are the equivalent of 36 A4 pages, or about 18 pages per week. At one end of the spectrum my notes for Green ICT Strategies (COMP&310) are about 3 A4 pages per week, whereas the web technology lectures for COMP2410/6340 - Networked Information Systems are 24 pages per week. This range can be accounted for by the Green ICT course being at the masters level and assuming the student does more independent reading. Also the Green ICT notes are mostly English text, whereas the web technologies notes contact examples of code, which take up more space. So at 18 pages per week, the metadata and data management notes seem about right, but perhaps could be trimmed a little.

Where does it fit in the skill set?

The Metadata and Electronic Data Management materials was just whatever I thought might be relviant, when first presented in 2000. It was designed to fit with what else was included in the course and related courses, but no thought to how it fitted in the career of the people who were being trained.

To position the Green ICT Strategies course, the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) was used. A search of SFIA found only one Skill definition which mentioned metadata, which was Information management (IRMG) :
The overall management of information, as a fundamental business resource, to ensure that the information needs of the business are met. Encompasses development and promotion of the strategy and policies covering the design of information structures and taxonomies, the setting of policies for the sourcing and maintenance of the data content, the management and storage of electronic content and the analysis of information structure (including logical analysis of data and metadata). Includes overall responsibility for compliance with regulations, standards and codes of good practice relating to information and documentation records management, information assurance and data protection. ...

From: Information management (IRMG) , Strategy & planning, Information strategy, SFIA, Version 3, 2005
For the undergraduate version of the course this would be at SFIA level 4 and Level 5 for the postgraduate version. The higher SFIA level has more management and less technical responsibility.

A search of SFIA for "data management" turned up reference in Business analysis (ANAL), System software SYSP and Enterprise architecture STPL. None of these seem to fit with the intended content, the closes is business analysis, but that has too much business and not enough technology.

A search of SFIA for "records management" turned up the
Information management (IRMG) skill again.

A search for "publishing" found Information content publishing ICPM, but this seems to relate more to web design.

So of all these
Information management (IRMG) seems most relevant.

Metadata and data management for governance

Looking at the higher level, IM is in the SFIA Subcategory of Information strategy. This also includes the Corporate governance of IT (GOVN). At first glance governance does not seem relevant to metadata and data management, being more for a course on IT project management.

However, many of the examples I use to explain the uses of metadata and data management from government and involve the keeping of records for demonstrating that an organisation is being properly run. It occurred to me that it might be useful to turn around the emphasis on record keeping in case you are taken to court, to instead start by looking at what is needed in terms of electron communications and documents for running an organisation well at the highest level, that is governance. With this I could start off with the principles of governance and then show how to make effective use of tools like instant messaging and blogs in a corporate environment.

No comments: