Metadata Collections & QA

DLESE Reviewed Collection (DRC) best practices

Purpose of the best practices

The Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) includes collections of high quality teaching and learning materials which have been rigorously reviewed and evaluated according to published selection criteria. These criteria are set forth in the DLESE Accessioning and Deaccessioning Policy. The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines or best practices with respect to these criteria, for the guidance of resource creators, reviewers and collection builders.

1. Scientific accuracy

  • The review for scientific accuracy is made by qualified specialist(s) in the appropriate field of science and the qualifications of the specialists are documented and revealed
  • The science review is completed by people who are not directly involved with the design and production of the resource, that is, they are documented (shown) to be external to resource development
  • Errors of fact identified in the science review process must be revised before accessioning
  • To help learners and teachers understand the reliability of the various parts of the resource, the resource should distinguish between what is observation/fact and what is interpretation/hypothesis and should identify assumptions

2. Importance or significance

  • The resource deals with content, skills or understandings that are likely to be important to a significant fraction of the teachers and learners in the DLESE community
  • Indicates why the learning made possible by the resource is important or significant. Possible reasons include that the resource supports:
    • Learning that is called for in national or state educational standards
    • Learning on a topic of societal importance
    • Mastering of foundational skills needed for advancement in a discipline or career
    • Understanding of a concept which is central to a discipline or Earth or environmental science
    • Understanding of linkages and interactions between or within portions of the Earth system
    • Other compelling reasons as articulated in the resource

3. Pedagogical effectiveness

  • Provides information about the pedagogical effectiveness, such as:
    • Feedback from educators who have observed learners interacting with the resource
    • Feedback from learners who have learned by using the resource
    • Feedback from an expert in pedagogy
  • The instructional time required for use of the resource is commensurate with the importance and magnitude of the learning achieved
  • The level of difficulty is appropriate for the stated target audience
  • The instructional strategies build toward mastering the stated learning objectives
  • Student learning achieved by the use of the resource is assessable and the resource should assess whether the learning objectives have been met
    • Include assessment options with or within the resource
    • Include guidance to teachers such as answer keys or scoring rubric


4. Completeness of documentation

The criteria covers both information in the resource and in the metadata record.

  • Metadata meets the metadata best practices
  • Metadata beyond required metadata is present (e.g. spatial and temporal coverage, standards, relationships between resources)
  • The resource contains authorship information
    • Name of the resource creator (individual and/or sponsoring institution)
    • Contact information for the resource creator or maintainer
    • Resource creation or most recent update date
  • The resource contains technical documentation
    • Hardware needed to use the resource
    • Software, including plug-ins, needed to use the resource, including the links or contact information to acquire such software
    • Any known hardware or software incompatibilities
    • For software or complex resources, a clear and comprehensive user's guide
    • File sizes for downloadable materials or large viewable files
  • The resource contains practical documentation
    • Materials lists; links or contact information to acquire uncommon materials
    • Safety precautions
    • An estimate of time required if applicable and especially for labs, activities, etc.
  • The resource contains pedagogical documentation
    • Skills and understandings needed prior to working with the resource
    • Age or educational level for which the resource is recommended
    • Learning objectives
    • Commonly observed mistakes or misconceptions
    • Notes on instructional strategies
    • Alignment with educational standards
  • The resource contains scientific/content documentation
    • Reference list or bibliography
    • Links to related websites
    • Technical terms are defined (or a link to a glossary provided)
  • If the resource contains data, the resource contains data documentation
    • Basic information about the instrument which collected the data and how it works (or links to such information)
    • For individual data sets, information about when and where the data was collected
    • For derived data products or merged data sets, links to the data archive or other source of description about how the data were processed or merged and information about when and where the data was collected
    • Links to sources of original data and tools to access the data
  • If the resource contains models, the resource contains model documentation
    • Name of the model
    • Description or link to the description of assumptions underlying the model and how the model works


5. Ease of use for teachers and learners

  • Navigation pathways in the resource should be self-evident and intuitive
  • Preparation time and effort required by the instructor should not be excessive, relative to the educational potential of the resource
  • Provides methods that ease the process of adapting to students' and teachers' individual differences, interests, abilities and needs.
    • Provide teacher-editable versions of student hand-outs (MS Word or PDF documents)
    • Provide several levels of difficultly or complexity in student activities
    • Provide links to maps or local data sets for use in different locations
  • Provide information about the ease of use, if possible
    • Feedback from educators who have observed learners interacting with the resource
    • Feedback from learners who have learned by using the resource
    • Feedback from an expert in usability of web resources

6. Inspirational/motivational for learners

  • Provides information on inspirational or motivational aspects of the resource
    • Feedback from educators who have observed learners interacting with the resource
    • Feedback from learners who have learned by using the resource
    • Feedback from educational specialists familiar with the target audience
  • The resource strives to inspire or motivate learners to
    • Show curiosity about the topic or the resource
    • Ask questions or seek out further information
    • Perform at a high level (i.e. do their personal best work)


7. Robustness as a digital resource

  • Should work on current versions of major web browsers, under operating systems used widely in educational settings
  • The resource is free of conspicuous, non-working elements (links that don't work, graphics that don't display, applets that don't run)
  • Text and graphic elements should be printable

Practices to avoid

  • Intrusive advertising
  • Information specific to one school or course, such as room numbers, office hours, etc.

Guidelines and best practices information

The DLESE Collections Accessioning Taskforce provides oversight for all guidelines and best practices.


These guidelines resulted from DLESE Collections Committee work and the DLESE collections meeting in March 2003.


Last updated: 9-21-04