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Forum Guide to Metadata
NFES 2009-805
July 2009

Chapter 3. Using Metadata

This chapter presents examples of metadata items commonly used by education organizations to improve data quality; technical operations; and data management, reporting, and use.
A metadata system should help the organization in some tangible manner. Having metadata for its own sake (and not using it) is a poor use of resources. Therefore, an organization should identify its goals for metadata use. For example, metadata can be used to improve
  • technical systems—e.g, quantifying the processing capacity of a search tool;
  • data quality—e.g., ensuring a data element is defined the same way throughout the organization; and
  • data reporting and use—e.g., verifying that all data values are within acceptable ranges.
Most organizations find many uses for metadata, especially in terms of improving the quality and use of their data (see exhibit 3.1). While this publication cannot list each and every possible application of metadata in an education setting, some common examples are listed in exhibit 3.2.


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