The importance of providing semantic web skills training in academic institutions

Semantic web helps computers and people work better together. But how? And what is it?

First, we understand that the World Wide Web was made for humans with computers. Websites use language, images, and layouts that present information in a way that’s easy for humans to understand but not for computers. Computers can’t read, see relationships, or make decisions about information or data like humans can.

Semantic Web is a movement led by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) intended to address this limitation of computers. W3C promotes common data formats and exchange of protocols so that data, regardless of format of the source document, can be read by computers universally.

For computers to understand information, particularly what words mean and what the relationships between words are, the computer needs to have documents that describe all the words and logic to make necessary connections. Semantic Web creates this common vocabulary so that there’s one framework where data can be shared and reused across applications, platforms, enterprises, and community boundaries.

With data connected and understood with this common vocabulary, the result is that computers can develop an understanding about connections in data, enabling more useful work and productive interactions.

Why is this important?

The growing significance and emergence of open data encourages universities to improve the visibility, promotion, and dissemination of research. Semantic web technologies make it possible to link open data with a common framework and improve the efficiencies of research. This is especially important today given the emphasis on collaboration between researchers, research institutions, and industry.

Although there is an increasing need for semantic web skills, there is a lack of resources in Canada dedicated to educating people in these skills. To address this gap, the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), in partnership with Research Impact Canada and the Future Skills Centre, developed a learning environment and conducted training on semantic web skills for a group of 22 individuals that consisted of systems librarians, application and web interface programmers, and data management specialists.

Learn more about their approach to developing semantic web skills training and the training they provided by clicking on the link here.

We hope that UQAM’s work will inform other institutions on how they too can provide semantics web skills training in a world that demonstrates high demand for these skills.

The above report was created in partnership between Research Impact Canada and the University of Quebec in Montreal.

This work was funded by The Conference Board of Canada through the Government of Canada‘s Future Skills Centre. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Future Skills Centre, its funder, or its partners.

Future Skills Centre is a partnership of Ryerson University, The Conference Board of Canada, and Blueprint.