SCISConnections

Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT)

The Project Sponsor for the Schools Online Thesaurus routinely asks me 'How's ScOT going?'. I'd like to borrow from this playful anthropomorphism and relay to Connections readers that ScOT has come of age.

ScOT logo

Connections readers will be familiar with ScOT; issues 59 and 60 featured articles on ScOT and its application in SCIS catalogue records. ScOT is a subject vocabulary that can be used in various cataloguing standards, including MARC 21 (the Machine-Readable Cataloguing standard used by SCIS), Dublin Core and ANZ-LOM (the Learning Object Metadata profile developed for the education sector in Australia and New Zealand). ScOT is updated as it is applied to content projects and collections relevant to school curricula. ScOT is a significant authority for metadata creation and validation as digital content and records are harvested and shared across the school sector. ScOT terms can be accessed at http://scot.curriculum.edu.au/.

Several initiatives in 2009 have positioned ScOT as a significant tool for the description and retrieval of education resources. The new look and feel website is the gateway to these initiatives. A summary of website highlights are below.

Visual ScOT

Visual ScOT 

Visual ScOT

More than a list or even a taxonomy, a subject thesaurus is a complex web of hierarchical and associative relationships. Traditional methods of displaying these relationships are suitable for expert users such as cataloguers and content managers. The new 'Visual ScOT' is a graphic representation of the rich semantic relationships that pull the curriculum concepts together. It's fun to browse this too - have a play at http://visualscot.curriculum.edu.au/VisualScot/.

Guidelines

Focusing now on the Connections readership, a new cataloguing guideline is available. This document is based on the guidelines developed by SCIS cataloguing agencies to assist them in assigning ScOT terms to SCIS catalogue records. ScOT can be incorporated within a number of cataloguing standards. The document Using ScOT: Guidelines for Indexers and Cataloguers provides further tips for selecting the right terms for content description. The Guidelines were released early in 2009 and are available at http://scot.curriculum.edu.au/indexing.html

Licensing

ScOT is mostly used either to describe education resources or to retrieve them. Between the cataloguer and end user are the information architects, system developers and IT managers responsible for implementing thesaurus look-up features. These users need to get the whole ScOT authority file, not just browse a few terms! Curriculum Corporation has developed a licence that permits use of the whole ScOT authority file in cataloguing and/ or discovery systems for non-commercial educational purposes. The licence supports rapid uptake of ScOT in significant cataloguing, harvesting and discovery systems. Users who need the whole ScOT authority and regular updates can register at http://scot.curriculum.edu.au/download.asp.

Thesaurus formats

[Warning! Nerdy details!] Speaking of information architects - what does the ScOT file look like anyway? In 2009, ScOT was made available in SKOS RDF format. SKOS stands for ‘Simple Knowledge Organisation System’ and is a data model for sharing and linking knowledge organisation systems via the semantic web. RDF is the 'Resource Description Framework', a language for representing information about resources in the world wide web. The SKOS RDF framework is promulgated by W3C, the world wide web consortium which works collaboratively to develop web standards. SKOS is a significant data standard used in emerging discovery tools that will play important roles in linking content to curriculum in the near future. Which brings ScOT up to date - and segues nicely to what's next.

Curriculum mapping

Around the corner, ScOT will be very busy providing links between significant content collections and the Australian curriculum. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is managing the design of new curriculum statements and metadata standards are central to the design process. ScOT terms are used to describe the draft curriculum and will play an integral role linking curriculum statements to curriculum resources.

As well as enhancing discoverability of the curriculum, the draft curriculum itself is a source of warrant for ScOT. New and modified terms based on ACARA publications have already been released in ScOT. For detailed changes to ScOT see our release documentation at http://scot.curriculum.edu.au/releases.html.

Les Kneebone
Thesaurus Analyst,
The Le@rning Federation