Introducing NECC’s Metadata Standard
One of the fruits of our data governance work has been our recently published Metadata Standard.
This will provide a formal standard for the college that establishes how metadata (data that provides information about other data, like data types, descriptions, valid values/ranges, etc.) should be handled within any data repositories that are available for use by the NECC community. At first glance, this doesn’t seem particularly exciting, but it is an important step towards fostering a data-driven culture at NECC because it’s a step towards improved and refined metadata.
Why is metadata important? Metadata ultimately is critical to ensure that data users are able to make sense of the data that they’re using. Some data elements, like “name” or “age” are straightforward for a data user to understand. However, other data elements, like “full or part time” are not understandable in isolation without context. Metadata provides this context and answers questions like “How many credits are required for full time status” and “are we talking about students, staff, faculty, or what?” Generally speaking, data is not very useful if there isn’t any accompanying metadata, but the metadata standard now holds metadata repository/data systems to a standard that both improves the usability of data for end users while respecting the time of metadata repository stakeholders.
The ultimate goal of the metadata standard is to ultimately improve general usability of college-wide data assets to improve college data’s viability as a strategic asset. As metadata quality improves at NECC, we are then able to focus our sights on improving the quality of NECC data; something that is often difficult to do if there aren’t metadata to benchmark the data with. With improved data quality, we can spend more time acting on the insights that we generate from data and less time scratching our heads trying to figure out why the data seems strange.
The document itself is publicly accessible on our Data Governance page and will formally go into effect on November 5th, 2022.