If you’ve already tried searching Google for recipes (try crepes), you know that along with the search results you get a nice list of ingredients with check boxes on the left of your search. That’s all due to a schema that allows for common criteria that Google or any other search engine can read. When web sites follow these standards for recipes, users can filter results in various ways. In my crepe recipe example below, I have the option of limiting search results to recipes under 100 calories (although you won’t find any crepe recipes with whip cream and Nutella in that list.)
But schemas are good for more than finding specific recipes. Imagine if you could do the same fine-grain sorting and filtering with educational resources. Check one box for pre-college and another box for open, modifiable resources only. This is why metadata (the tags and other hidden stuff that describes the content) is important in educational materials, especially OER. Those who use the proper metadata schemas will be included in the search results. Teachers and learners will be able to drill down and find the materials they want at the proper grade level. This is a big deal for education and OER stands to gain a lot more attention as a result. Keep your eyes on http://schema.org/.