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Digital Humanities Questions & Answers » Topic: What do undergraduates need to know about metadata? en-US Sun, 24 Mar 2019 23:06:36 +0000 <![CDATA[Search]]> q Meagan Timney on "What do undergraduates need to know about metadata?" Tue, 28 Sep 2010 23:09:29 +0000 Meagan Timney 185@ <p>Great question! I think that teaching students about metadata is one of the best ways to start a discussion about DH, especially in the undergraduate classroom. In my first-year class, I include a discussion of metadata in our class about digitization issues. At this level we don't talk about metadata in terms of tags, but as "information about information", or "data about data". In HUMA 150, we have <a href="">an entire 2-hour lab devoted to metadata</a>. I provide an <a href="">introduction to digitization and metadata</a> for our pre-lab lecture, and then during our lab time, I have the class work through an exercise that asks them to consider a number of different objects (physical and digital) and to come up with different kinds of information about those objects. For this lab, I give them very little direction to start, other than pointing them to the assignment. As they work through the steps, they begin to ask questions about how to find information (metadata), and I generally direct them to resources or offer problem-solving tips. Part of the exercise is to get them to be critical of the kinds of information they find. They start to ask questions such as "is the 'creator' of the text the author or the person/organization who digitized the book?" When we get to that stage, I start to see the lightbulbs come on as they begin to understand the larger issues of digitization and data management. The goal is to get them thinking about metadata and information <em>before</em> we start looking at DH projects, collections, and tools, so that they approach them with a broader understanding of some of the issues. In the second-year class, I hope to build on their understanding of metadata as we translate it into discussions about Dublin Core and TEI. </p> juliaflanders on "What do undergraduates need to know about metadata?" Wed, 22 Sep 2010 17:26:09 +0000 juliaflanders 128@ <p>In introducing the concept of metadata (at any level) I've often found it useful to start by reminding people of their own experience of metadata <strong>as users</strong>: go to a site that people are accustomed to using (whether it be Flickr or EEBO or something in between), and have people make a list of the things they typically do at the site (search for an entry by title; limit search results by specific tags; sort results by date; navigate using a map; etc.). Then have them imagine concretely the kinds of information that the system needs to know in order to provide those functions:</p> <ul> <li>author name (did you need to know which part was the surname?)</li> <li>publication date</li> <li>geographic coordinates</li> <li>tags</li> <li>title</li> </ul> <p>This can often lead to a useful discussion of where these kinds of metadata comes from: who originates the information? Does it matter whether the information is authoritative or not? Does anything depend on having the data be consistent <strong>between</strong> resources--for instance, when resources interact with one another? At a PhD level, issues of standardization and professional best practices may be of interest, and also questions of authority: in what contexts is community-driven metadata (like Flickr tags) really better than a top-down approach, and where do we do better with more "designed" systems? At the undergrad level the conversation might stop when they have an awareness of the presence and importance of metadata in the system and of how to take advantage of it. </p> <p>For graduate students and faculty in the digital humanities, I'd also add that the politics of metadata could be a very important dimension to be aware of: how metadata standards are created and what world views they instantiate. </p> Patrick Murray-John on "What do undergraduates need to know about metadata?" Wed, 22 Sep 2010 15:21:39 +0000 Patrick Murray-John 123@ <p>One funny thing that I think is important to emphasize about tags is that they need to be useful. My experience with tags/categories in UMWBlogs is that they are often used as a description that makes sense at the moment, but are often meaningless later. So, if adding in tags, I'd emphasize that they (like all metadata) should carefully reflect how they are organizing their knowledge to make it useful later. As always, specific examples and demonstrations with well-tagged content is best.</p> <p>Moving beyond first year, the knowledge they work with gets more complex and sophisticated, as does -- hopefully -- their own thinking. And so the sophistication of their own tags, and the metadata from others (e.g., Dublin Core, or discipline-specific vocabs) should reflect that. When talking about any of it, the key is to understand how and why the design of the vocab is (or is not) useful.</p> <p>Patrick </p> Julie Meloni on "What do undergraduates need to know about metadata?" Wed, 22 Sep 2010 11:14:05 +0000 Julie Meloni 111@ <p><em>Replying to @<a href=''>PhDeviate</a>'s <a href="">post</a>:</em></p> <p>In what classes, specifically? </p> PhDeviate on "What do undergraduates need to know about metadata?" Tue, 21 Sep 2010 22:11:54 +0000 PhDeviate 104@ <p>I wish for a guideline, akin to what elementary school teachers study about age appropriate behaviors and skills, about scholar-age appropriate digital skills. What should first-years know about metadata? I teach keywords and controlled vocab subjects by default, but I'm considering adding the concept of the tag. What else should they know? What should college graduates know? What should MA students know? PhD? </p>