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Forum Guide to Metadata
NFES 2009-805
July 2009

Appendix D. Example of a Metadata Training Program

This appendix provides a description of a metadata/business intelligence staff training program that can be adapted to meet the needs of state and local education agencies around the nation.
  1. Introduction
  2. Training Strategies
  3. Example Timeline
  4. Training Evaluation

Sample Metadata Training Program

(Adapted from the Kansas Department of Education Data Project Training Strategy: Metadata and Business Intelligence Tools, Version 1.0.)

1 Introduction

1.1 Scope of Document

This document outlines the training strategies and training timelines for an education agency's metadata and business intelligence (BI) system. This training consists of both metadata and BI content.

1.2 Background

Metadata, or "data about data," are crucial to an education data system because they drive the BI system applications, data marts, and interfaces that internal and external data consumers use for reporting, research, analysis, and decisionmaking purposes. The metadata provide data consumers with answers to the following questions:

  • What data do I have?
  • What do they mean?
  • Where are they?
  • How did they get there?
  • How do I get them?
  • How do I use them?

All users who access data will need instructions on what metadata are and how they can be used to produce meaningful data sets. Consequently, it will be necessary to train stakeholders on both: 1) metadata items so that they understand what data they have and what they mean; and 2) the metadata system so that they can access metadata to answer their business and research questions. The depth, content, and delivery media for this training will be dictated by the needs of the different user groups.

1.3 Purpose of Training

The purpose of this training is to familiarize end users with the concept of metadata, to demonstrate the relationship between metadata and the organization's data, and to teach end users to extract, format, and analyze data through the use of the metadata system applications, interfaces, and ad-hoc queries.

1.4 Scope of Training

Training content will initially be directed at internal stakeholders and will focus on the data warehouse and its associated metadata. The preliminary list of metadata elements that will be stored in the data warehouse is as follows:

  • data element name;
  • definition;
  • business rule;
  • permitted values;
  • NCES definition;
  • DW data type (string/number, length);
  • transformation (crosswalk);
  • previous source (server, db, table, column);
  • data owner/steward;
  • subject area/keyword;
  • policies;
  • data quality metrics;
  • audit trail; and
  • where used (e.g., Education Data Exchange Network).

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2 Training Strategies

2.1 Course Modules

All training courses and materials will be pilot-tested internally prior to general release or use. The initial metadata and business intelligence training courses will include

  • Metadata 101 — an introduction to the concept of metadata and how it is used in daily life;
  • Using the Organization's Metadata System to Access Metadata — a hands-on overview dedicated to understanding the contents of the metadata system;
  • Using the Organization's Metadata System for Data Stewards — a variation of the previous course focused on entering, maintaining, and using the metadata and business intelligence system;
  • Business Intelligence System Training — an introduction to the organization's BI system applications; and
  • Introduction to Metadata and the BI System Applications — a hands-on course that combines the Metadata 101 course content with practice using the BI system applications.

2.2 Metadata and BI system Core Team

Most members of the metadata and BI system implementation team will already be familiar with the creation and use of metadata. As a result, this group will be the primary pilot test audience for all metadata and BI system training courses and materials.

2.2.1 Suggested courses

  • Metadata 101
  • Using the Education Agency's Metadata System
  • BI System Training
  • Introduction to Metadata and the BI System Applications

2.2.2 Training content

Training content for core metadata and BI system team members will include

  • a description of the metadata being stored in the metadata system;
  • the relationship between the source systems and the data warehouse metadata;
  • a demonstration of how to access the data warehouse metadata;
  • a discussion of the components of metadata (use, lineage, history, location in source system, etc.);
  • a discussion of how to use metadata to assist with research and reporting;
  • a demonstration on using the tool for entering, editing, and maintaining metadata; and
  • hands-on practice with the BI system applications and interfaces.

2.2.3 Training delivery platforms

Delivery platforms for providing metadata and BI system training to the core team include

  • presentations and hands-on workshops during scheduled metadata and BI system project meetings; and
  • summary documents and project status emails.

2.2.4 Ongoing support

The training needs of the metadata and BI system core group will be monitored by the Project Director and Project Coordinator. Ongoing training and support will be provided on an as-needed basis.

2.3 Internal IT/Software Development Staff

IT staff and programmers require an overview of the metadata and warehouse in order to ensure the integrity and consistency of their programming code and web applications.

2.3.1 Suggested courses

  • Metadata 101
  • Using the Education Agency's Metadata System to Access Metadata

2.3.2 Training content

The training for IT and software development staff will include

  • a discussion of the role metadata play in the education agency's metadata and BI system;
  • review of the metadata associated with the BI system;
  • a demonstration on how to access metadata in the metadata system;
  • a demonstration on how to identify data's characteristics, description, uses, lineage, and history;
  • a discussion concerning why metadata matter and how they may affect work; and
  • hands-on practice using the system to access metadata.

2.3.3 Training delivery platforms

Delivery platforms for providing metadata training to the IT/programming staff include

  • face-to-face presentations (at programmers' meetings, ad-hoc meetings, etc.);
  • hands-on training with the metadata system;
  • printed manuals; and
  • printed quick-reference documents.

2.3.4 Ongoing support

Face-to-face refresher seminars will be held periodically throughout the year as needed.

2.4 Education Agency Data Stewards

Education agency data stewards have already been trained to create and maintain metadata. However, as the metadata and BI system continue to develop, all data stewards will need to know what metadata are stored in the data warehouse, how to update and manage metadata, how metadata relate to the data and metadata in their source systems, and how metadata can be used for research and reporting.

2.4.1 Suggested courses

  • Metadata 101
  • Using the Education Agency's Metadata System for Data Stewards
  • BI System training

2.4.2 Training content

Training content for data stewards will include

  • a description of the metadata being stored in the metadata system;
  • the relationship between the source systems and the data warehouse metadata;
  • a demonstration of how to access the system metadata;
  • a discussion of the components of metadata (use, lineage, history, location in source system, etc.);
  • a discussion of how to use metadata to assist with research and reporting; and
  • hands-on practice entering, editing, and maintaining metadata in the metadata system.

2.4.3 Training delivery platforms

Delivery platforms for providing metadata training to the data stewards include (but are not limited to)

  • face-to-face presentations (some of which occur in scheduled data steward workgroup meetings);
  • hands-on training;
  • metadata and BI system page of the education agency portal;
  • printed manuals;
  • printed quick-reference materials; and
  • workbooks (with activities).

2.4.4 Ongoing support

Ongoing support will be provided through the monthly data steward workgroup meetings, periodic refresher presentations, the metadata and BI system webpage, and updated printed materials. Train-the-trainer sessions may be initiated to encourage participants to train their staff on the BI system and metadata.

What are Metadata and why do they matter? An everyday example

An everyday example of metadata use can help to explain the concept to stakeholders: A temperature measurement (e.g., 28) is a piece of data, but to correctly interpret it as information requires additional context, or "metadata," which are data about data.

  • What is the scale? Degrees Celsius or degrees Fahrenheit?
  • What is the location? At the airport, downtown, or outside your window?
  • What is the altitude of the measurement? At ground level (where it gets hotter and colder) or from a weather balloon a thousand feet above you?
  • Is it the high or low temperature for the day?
  • Is it the current temperature, yesterday's temperature, or tomorrow's predicted temperature?

This context is critical to using the piece of data as information. In its absence, 28 could mean 28° Fahrenheit (below freezing) in the middle of a parking lot as the day's high temperature (brr, it is cold). Equally plausible, however, it could mean 28° Celsius (or 82° Fahrenheit) in the shade on a grassy field as the day's low temperature (wow, is it ever a scorcher). This additional information that provides the "context" for understanding what 28 means is an example of metadata, and illustrates why "data about data" are necessary to derive meaning.

2.5 Education Agency Program and Support Staff

Education agency program and support staff will require training on metadata and the BI system applications for research and reporting purposes.

2.5.1 Suggested courses

  • Metadata 101
  • Using the Metadata System to Access Metadata
  • BI System Training

2.5.2 Training content

Training content for program and support staff will include

  • introduction to the concept and uses of metadata;
  • description of the system's metadata and warehouse;
  • the relationship between the source systems and the data warehouse metadata;
  • demonstration of how to access the system's metadata;
  • discussion of the components of metadata (use, lineage, history, location in source system, etc.);
  • discussion of how to use metadata to help with research and reporting; and
  • demonstration of the use of the BI system applications.

2.5.3 Training delivery platforms

Delivery platforms for providing metadata training to program and support staff include

  • face-to-face presentations;
  • hands-on training;
  • metadata and BI system page of the education agency portal;
  • printed manuals; and
  • printed quick-reference materials.

2.5.4 Ongoing support

Ongoing support will be provided through the metadata webpage and printed materials.

2.6 Education Agency Executives

Education agency executives will require summary information about metadata and the BI system applications and how they can be used. Intensive hands-on training is not planned for this user group.

2.6.1 Suggested courses

  • Metadata 101
  • BI System Training

2.6.2 Training content

Training content for executives will include

  • definition of metadata;
  • how metadata fit into the greater metadata and BI system project;
  • how metadata can be used internally and externally;
  • description of how metadata and the BI system applications relate to one another; and
  • description of the BI system applications and examples of the types of business questions that can be answered using data marts and BI system applications.

2.6.3 Training delivery platforms

Delivery platforms for providing metadata and BI system training to education agency executives include

  • demonstrations posted on the system webpage;
  • printed Q&A reference guides; and
  • face-to-face demonstrations

2.6.4 Ongoing support

Ongoing support for education agency executives and administrators will be supplied through printed or emailed status reports and updates. Face-to-face or hands-on training will be available as needed.

2.7 School and District Administrators

School administrators will use the BI system applications to review high-level, summary data (such as their AYP status, QPA status, and general school/district information). Training on the metadata that drive the BI system applications will be embedded in their BI system training.

2.7.1 Suggested course

  • Introduction to Metadata and BI System Applications

2.7.2 Training content

Training content for school administrators will include

  • introduction to metadata;
  • introduction to the BI system;
  • instruction on using the metadata system (including querying and report formatting and filtering); and
  • instruction on using the BI system applications to answer specific business questions.

2.7.3 Training delivery platforms

Delivery platforms for metadata and BI system training to school and district administrators include

  • regional face-to-face presentations;
  • interactive television (ITV) presentations;
  • regional hands-on training;
  • printed manuals, FAQ sheets, and other support materials;
  • conference calls (as needed); and
  • presentations at relevant conferences and user group meetings.

2.7.4 Ongoing support

Ongoing support will be provided through periodic conference calls, Help Desk support and supplemental face-to-face (hands-on) training provided on an as-needed basis throughout the year. Users can also email questions about the BI system applications to a metadata and BI system support email account.

2.8 School Staff

School staff, including teachers, secretaries, and testing coordinators are expected to represent one of the largest populations of stakeholders. These users will rely on the BI system applications and data marts to obtain information about data standards, licensure status, assessment results, and related information. Training on the metadata that drive the BI system applications will be embedded in their BI system training.

2.8.1 Suggested course

  • Introduction to Metadata and BI System Applications

2.8.2 Training content

Metadata and BI system training content for school staff members will include

  • introduction to metadata;
  • introduction to the BI system applications;
  • instruction on locating and using the BI system applications (including querying and report formatting and filtering); and
  • instruction and discussion on using the BI system applications to answer specific business questions.

2.8.3 Training delivery platforms

Delivery platforms for providing training to school staff members include

  • regional face-to-face presentations;
  • ITV presentations;
  • regional hands-on training;
  • printed manuals, FAQ pages, workbooks (with activities), and other support materials;
  • conference calls (as needed);
  • demonstrations posted on the metadata and BI system webpage; and
  • presentations at relevant conferences/user group meetings.

2.8.4 Ongoing support

Ongoing support for school staff will be supplied through conference presentations, periodic conference calls, Help Desk support, the metadata and BI system webpage, messages and updates on the metadata and BI system listserv, and supplemental handson training provided on an as-needed basis throughout the year. Train-the-trainer sessions may be initiated with this group in an effort to provide guidance as schools train their own staff on the use of the BI system applications.

2.9 Public

Members of the general public will eventually be able to use the BI system applications.

2.9.1 Suggested courses

No formal courses

2.9.2 Training content

Training content for the public will include

  • introduction to the BI system applications;
  • instruction on locating and using the system (including querying, report filtering, and formatting); and
  • instruction on using the BI system applications to answer business questions.

2.9.3 Training delivery platforms

Delivery platforms for providing metadata and BI system training to the public include

  • demonstrations posted on the data portal of the education agency website;
  • printed quick reference guides and FAQ sheets; and
  • podcast recordings of BI demonstrations.

2.9.4 Ongoing support

Ongoing support for the public will be provided through news bulletins and updates posted on the metadata and BI system and education agency web pages.

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3 Example Timeline

3.1 Critical Milestones

Implementation of metadata training is dependent upon several tasks, including:

  • metadata system developed (insert target date);
  • metadata system test plan completed (insert target date);
  • metadata application in production (insert target date);
  • metadata system initial data load (insert target date);
  • BI Capability Analysis Document (insert target date);
  • selection of BI system suite (insert target date);
  • initial BI products delivered (insert target date); and
  • data marts developed (insert target date).

 

3.2 Training Timeline

The expected timeline for the metadata and BI system training is as follows:

Approximate timing Training/deployment activities
Week 1 Metadata system is developed
Week 3 Metadata system test plan is completed
Weeks 3-9 Development of Metadata 101 and Using the Education Agency Metadata System training materials
Week 5 Metadata application in production
Week 6 BI solutions and matrix documents completed
Week 6 Metadata system initial data load completed
Week 7 BI Capability Analysis Document completed
Week 8 BI System application(s) selected and ordered
Weeks 9-10 Pilot testing of Metadata 101 and Using the Education Agency Metadata System training
Weeks 10-12 Updating Metadata 101 and Using the Education Agency Metadata System training materials, based on feedback
Weeks 12-20 Implementation of Metadata 101 and Using the Education Agency Metadata System training (internal staff)
Weeks 12-20 Development of BI System Applications and Introduction to Metadata and BI System Applications training materials
Weeks 16-20 BI System Products delivered and installed
Weeks 16-20 Pilot test of BI System Applications and Introduction to Metadata and BI System Applications training
Weeks 20-28 Updating of BI System Applications and Introduction to Metadata and BI System Applications training materials
Weeks 24-28 Data marts developed
Weeks 24-28 Implementation of BI System Applications training (internal)
Weeks 29-33 Implementation of Introduction to Metadata and BI System Applications training (external)

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4 Training Evaluation

In an effort to ensure that training needs are met and to identify areas for curriculum improvement, quantitative and qualitative training feedback will be elicited from internal and most external participants via paper and electronic evaluation forms. The results of these evaluations will be aggregated by stakeholder group and compiled into summary documents that will be shared with the metadata core team. Adjustments will be made as needed to the training content, delivery mechanisms, and support materials.

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