Standardized Tagging – And The Best Idea I’ve Had in a While (right?)

OK. We had an interesting conversation at NECC about creating a standardized system of tagging so we can all actually find the things other people have made or found already. BUT the issue is in coming up with an effective way of tagging that everyone can use across all the school districts, states etc.

Teaching Generation Z
added an extra level of complexity by reminding me that there’s more to the world than the U.S. Dang. Forgot about that. 🙂

SO . . initially I figured you’d have to make a choice. You’d either have to go pretty broad and lose a lot of individual usefulness (state standards for one which I feel is really the key to getting a larger sphere of involvement and usage) or you’d end up with way too many tags. So rather than being a negative jerk I started thinking about how it’d be possible to keep the regional detail needed and still create something that was useful internationally.

What if we set up tagging standards based on smaller groups (state standards in the US and whatever is a comparable level internationally). Then we create correlations between the standards. (That would be the real work). After that when you tag it with the VA standards it will automatically pull in the relevant tags from the other states/countries.

For example a VA centric tag of SOLUSI6.b would be matched with the equivalent tags in Alaska, Australia etc. Then any VA tagger would not need to know the tags in Alaska and Australia but the tagging would occur anyway.

This would also require a centralized tagging database (maybe a Scuttle type set up or maybe a full fledged database -Dabble?). Maybe it could set to feed in from select accounts to prevent doubling work or something like that.

Once you get that running you could start doing fun stuff like having only tags show related to your login information. You could check boxes in your preferences panel to only show tags from say ISTE and VA. That way you only see what you want.

So that’s my idea. What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Standardized Tagging – And The Best Idea I’ve Had in a While (right?)

  1. I’m not sure if you read my “take” about this on my blog, but your idea sounds like it’s far easier said than done. However, before anybody goes off and codes anything too complex I think we all need to sit down (in a huge chat session, in an Elluminate room, in SL, or however) and discuss these standards (while your ideas as to how tags should be formed might be good, I think that everybody needs a voice in determining what is best).

    For what it’s worth,


  2. Darren,

    I don’t think I’m deciding anything for anyone or summoning legions of coders (although I’d like that power :). I’m just throwing ideas out there in terms of general ways to make something that is really, really difficult possible. I’m certainly not in any position to determine what is best.

    I do agree that saying build a database that correlates wildly different vocabularies so that it’s useful for large numbers of people is far easier to say than to do. But what isn’t easier to say than to do?

    I would have reservations about a massive chat session for this type of decision making. It seems like you’d need more time for deeper thought and planning over a period of time. I can see parts of it happing in chat but I think the real set up would have to be done in a more asynchronous way that lets people contribute over a longer period of time.

    I searched your site for tag, tagging, standard or standardized that seemed to address this particularly. Maybe I’m crazy. If you’ll send me the link I’d like to check it out.


  3. Regarding this tagging issue, I’d like to point you to the CALIBRATE project ( and specifically the work carried out in work package 1 ( Their task in this 3 year project is to build mapping tools that will map the curricula of various EU (why not world) countries among each other. So that in effect you could tag a resource using your local vocabulary, and then anyone from a different locality could find it using their respective tag. If you want to contact the researchers, they can be found here:

  4. I will be discussing this on my blog and have some ideas as well. There are several thoughts that I have about how to do this. Will be sharing this week — I’ve been out with my grandmother passing away so haven’t been able to post my thoughts on this important issue. It was a great conversation. I think for now we need to start with the NETS standards having tags and then go from there.

  5. It seems like the first step is to collect the state standards and document the correlations. Once these have been established, you simply need to create tags that bind the standards together. Once these connections have been made, you could move the a secondary set of tags that deal with subject matter.


  6. After reading David Weinberger’s book “Everything is Miscellaneous” (, I’m not so sure we could every arrive at a set of tagging standards that the whole world could/would use. Weinberger says that any organizational system for information, which is what a tagging standard would be, is inherently flawed since it contains the biases of the creators and couldn’t taken into account the thinking pattern of everyone who might use it.

    His solution is to encourage everyone to add as many tags as they can think of (and use the content itself as the tags). At the same time, smarter search tools need to be developed that understand the relationships between the tags themselves.

    I highly recommend the book. It’s still giving my head a real workout about how information and knowledge are organized and sometimes how they have been manipulated by the builders of the organizational schemes.

  7. Tim,

    I think you’re exactly right. The issues I see is that using as many tags as possible results in too much time spent per individual per resource tagged and the limits of that person’s tagging vocabulary. Teachers are pressed enough for time and don’t want to do anything extra.

    If we create links between tagging vocabulary clouds then it seems like we wouldn’t be restricting the vocabulary but pulling in more tags without devoting extra time to doing it (other than the original correlation setup- which wouldn’t be insubstantial- don’t get me wrong but it’d be shorter in the long run than doing this on a per resource basis). Does that make sense?

    That’s why I think it’s an interesting solution, in that it allows the individual to tag w/ tags specific to them and their needs while still pulling in tags specific to others.

    I’ll check out the book for sure. Thanks for the input and recommendation.


Comments are closed.