March - 2005

Technical Evaluation Report

46. CanCore: in Canada and Around the World

Norm Friesen
CanCore Initiative
Athabasca University - Canada's Open University


The current report provides an update on Report #11 and Report #40 in this series, describing the increasing range of international uses of the CanCore metadata for the indexing of learning objects.


CanCore ( is a learning resource metadata initiative funded by Industry Canada and supported by Athabasca University, Alberta, and TeleUniversite du Quebec. CanCore is designed to facilitate the indexing of online educational resources or Learning Objects (LO), by assisting project implementers and catalogers in the development of high-quality systems and indexing based on the IEEE Learning Object Metadata (LOM) standard. This standard specifies the ways in which descriptive data (metadata) about these educational resources can be formulated to simplify searching and information interchange between systems. The LOM standard is both complex and general in nature, however. It contains a broad range of elements, and leaves open many possibilities for interpretation. CanCore provides guidance on interpretation and implementation of the LOM at a level of detail much greater than the standard itself. In the words of one private sector implementer, "CanCore has supplied some of the best guides and best practices on how to apply learning object meta-data in the real world" (Recombo, 2004). As a result, the CanCore guidelines have been used in public and private-sector projects in many Canadian jurisdictions and provinces, in pan-Canadian initiatives, and in projects in the USA, France, the UK, and elsewhere. As a result of this work, CanCore and Canada generally have been widely recognized as providing leadership in e-learning metadata implementation. This article describes the range and character of CanCore implementations, illustrating the way CanCore is utilized, by focusing specifically on a number of developments currently underway in Ontario.

CanCore has been working with an expanding community of implementers since November 2000. Its beginnings were in the context of collaborative initiatives involving several Canadian provinces: the LearnAlberta portal (, the Campus Alberta Repository of Educational Objects (CAREO) project (, and the Telecampus repository of online courses developed at the University by TeleEducation of New Brunswick. CanCore has subsequently been active in the pan-Canadian eduSource project sponsored by CANARIE. Most recently, CanCore's focus has returned to a number of localized private and provincial government implementations, with financial support by the Multimedia Learning Group of Industry Canada, and under the management of Athabasca University.

Among the provincial projects currently implementing CanCore are the BCcampus Learning Resources Centre, the LearnAlberta portal, the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI) Portal of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the normetric metadata profile work in Quebec. eduOntario is a further provincial project for which CanCore has been selected "as the key cataloging model" (Hannaford and Sutherland, 2004). This particular project, funded by the Ontario Knowledge Network for Learning (OKNL) and based at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), is developing "a general-purpose repository prototype" to serve the needs of K-12 and other learners in Canada's most populous province (St. John, Hyman, Hannaford, and Sutherland, 2004). The project leaders are Avi Hyman (OISE) and Baiba St. John (OKNL); and project managers are Brian Sutherland and Julie Hannaford (OISE). As a part of this and other work, this initiative has also developed OnCore, a version of CanCore designed to meet the educational needs of Ontario. The adaptation of CanCore's classification elements allows each resource catalogued in OnCore to be indexed in relation to Ontario-specific educational outcomes and expectations. OnCore has also been used by Ontario's Bibliocentre to catalogue a number of TVOntario video resources. (TVO is a provincially-funded educational television network that reaches approximately 12 million Ontarians and subscribers to cable and satellite television across Canada.)

The OnCore group has also been exploring the possibility of further adapting CanCore to work alongside another successful metadata solution for online resources: Rich Site Summary or Real Simple Syndication (RSS). RSS is used as a way of syndicating or distributing news stories, annotated links, and other timely information from one location to many other locations quickly and easily. Combined with CanCore, RSS could be used as a way of alerting users and repositories to the availability of new and relevant learning objects and metadata records, thus increasing levels of resource sharing and reuse. As the OnCore group explains, "the goal is to piggyback LOM (CanCore) Learning Object metadata on RSS to energize the many Learning Object Repositories which are creating resources but not facilitating resource discovery" beyond their own collections (B. Sutherland, personal communication, November 2, 2004; Hannaford and Sutherland, 2004). A number of other CanCore and RSS implementers, as well as the CanCore initiative itself, are currently working together to find ways to accomplish this "piggybacking" or adaptation.

Other CanCore Implementations

Other implementations of CanCore have been undertaken in a wide range of projects and educational contexts. A list of some of these projects, products and organizations, and their respective websites is provided below. In each case, a brief indication is provided of how the initiative has used CanCore.

  •   AD LIB Project ( CanCore has been used as a basis for defining the metadata creation interface for this project; CanCore documentation is used for help screens. Free registration is required to view the metadata interface.

  •   BC Campus ( CanCore is being referenced and adapted in the Learning Object Repository Project of BC Campus: The goal of this project is to build the foundation for a comprehensive BC learning objects repository (LOR) for British Columbia K-12 and postsecondary education. It is the first phase of a larger goal of BCcampus, which is to provide a LOR model for the BC educational system across all disciplines (

  • BC Open School. BC Open University ( CanCore's guidelines have been used to develop metadata records. BC School District #60 Peace River North ( CanCore's guidelines have been used to develop new metadata records and to recapture metadata records that previously existed in the Scrapbook ( and the Learning Lab ( XSLT was used to convert the MySQL based records from the Scrapbook and the ZOPE based records from the Learning Lab into CanCore based records in a localized version of CAREO.

  • Canadian Heritage ( CanCore's metadata approach plays a central role in this overall metadata strategy recommended for Canadian Culture Online Policy (  

  • CDLI Portal ( In making its learning objects available through its portal, the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation of the Department of Education in Newfoundland and Labrador is adhering to CanCore's guidelines.

  • CELTS (China). CanCore metadata element subset is referenced in defining CELTS subset, "the core set of CELTS-3.1 is a subset of CanCore, which in turn is a subset of LOM" (

  •  CMEC Portal. As is explained in CMEC documentation: "proponents will be expected to meta-tag each multimedia learning object using the standard descriptors developed for use in the CMEC portal. These descriptors follow the CanCore standard" (

  •  Desire2Learn ( Desire2Learn is a full-featured learning management system which includes a learning object repository. "The D2L Learning Object Repository technology incorporates industry standards, such as SCORM, CanCore, IMS, and others . . ."

  •  Edusplash and Lionshare ( The eduSplash peer-to-peer metadata and object sharing software advertises itself as "powered by CanCore." This interface and tool are being incorporated in the international Lionshare project.

  •  Eisenhower National Clearinghouse ( CanCore's guidelines documents and discussions have been used extensively in the development of metadata for this American project (

  •  Etraffic Solutions Inc. ( This is an international online learning content and applications developer that uses CanCore in creating and tagging its learning objects (

  • FLORE ( is a free repository of French language educational resources. It is meant to help the user to find appropriate sites and specific learning objects for teaching or learning French. FLORE is designed for faculty and students in post-secondary institutions. It offers over 1,000 online resources with annotations such as content descriptions and peer reviews. CanCore is assisting FLORE with the alignment of its metadata to CanCore/LOM elements and mechanisms of exchange.

  •  Government of Canada Metadata Framework (Canadian Treasury Board). "Within the GoC, CanCore is the preferred interpretation of the IEEE LOM" ( profil04_e.asp).

  • ( "The metadata records used to locate and describe resources available at this portal have been developed using the CanCore guidelines as a central input."

  •  LLearn ( "The LLEARN project is a private-public partnership . . . designed to bring together best practices in second language teaching/ learning and the capacity of broadband technology . . . LLEARN will be SCORM and CanCore compliant (

  •  Magic Lantern ( As a major supplier of video learning objects to Alberta Learning, Magic Lantern has created metadata records for a large number of its resources, using CanCore as a guide.

  •  ManUeL Metadata Application Profile and Metalab tool. CanCore is acknowledged as being the basis for this French application profile. (Documentation is under development). (

  •  National Science Digital Library ( In developing and refining its Dublin Core-based metadata scheme, the NSDL has consulted with CanCore staff and utilized CanCore's guidelines.

  •  NORMETIC Quebec ( The CanCore element subset and guidelines has been used as central inputs in the development of the Normetic element subset (

  •  Recombo ( has utilized CanCore in a number of its metadata tools.  

  •  Peace River North School District's Resource Scrapbook ( CanCore Guidelines has been used in updating this collection's metadata.

  •  TeleCampus is a listing of 50,000 courses and course components used by CanCore to update its metadata. A version of this repository will be housed at Athabasca University.

  •  The Inclusive Learning Exchange (TILE) Project ( "CanCore Metadata (with extensions)" has been used to mark up the content in this collection.
  •   TVOntario ( "TVOntario recently adopted a version of CanCore to catalogue its video resources in relation to the Ontario Curriculum" (

  •   UK LOM Core ( "Lorna Campbell, one of the UK LOM Core's initiators, felt that the depth of gratitude owed to the CanCore makers was well worth a name check, and also neatly indicated the similarity between the two adaptations (
  • References

    Hannaford, J. and Sutherland, B. (2004). OnCore. Retrieved January 5, 2005 from:

    Recombo Inc. (2004). Resources, Learning Standards Meta-data. Retrieved January 5, 2005 from:

    St. John, B., Hyman, A., Hannaford, J., and Sutherland, B. (2004). Developing a Prototype for an Ontario Education Portal. (PowerPoint Presentation). Retrieved January 5, 2005 from:


    N.B. Owing to the speed with which Web addresses are changed, the online references cited in this report may be outdated. They are available, together with updates to the current report, at the Athabasca University software evaluation site: Italicized product names in this report can be assumed to be registered industrial or trademarks.

     JPB. Series Editor, Technical Evaluation Reports