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Survey: Educators, Publishers Agree on Need for Improved Web Search

Both educators and publishers appear to agree that the efficacy of Web searches for educational content have substantial room for improvement, according to survey results released by the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative, or LRMI, earlier this week.

In a survey of 21,000 K-12 educators, only about a quarter described their Web searches for educational resources as "successful," and in a separate, parallel survey of educational publishers, a bit more than half said their customers find it "difficult" or "somewhat difficult" to find that publisher's content through a Web search.

Both populations agreed that, to best serve educators, it's most important that online educational content is searchable by subject area, grade level, and standards alignment.

The LRMI is a joint effort by the Association of Educational Publishers and Creative Commons to get educational publishers to follow a common framework for metadata, or pieces of classifying information attached to online educational content that guide Web searches. The initiative, announced a year ago this month, is funded in part by the Bill & Melinda, and William and Flora Hewlett foundations. Both organizations also help fund Education Week's coverage.

Additional data from the two surveys suggested there is a need for the kind of work the LMRI is trying to do.

For example, about two thirds of responding educators said an introduction of functional search criteria for education would increase their use of the Internet to find instructional resources. And nearly that many publishers said they would either "definitely" or "highly likely" tag their materials with metadata to fit that criteria if it would improve how easily educators would discover that material.

More data from the parallel surveys is expected to be released later this summer.

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