Introducing Student Created Content to Metaware
At the 2015 ALA Midwinter meeting of the ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee in Chicago, attendees brainstormed methods for increasing the flow of content on the Metaware blog. From the blog’s inception at the 2014 ALA Annual Meeting, it had only seen three posts published. At the time, I was dealing with revising my syllabus for the metadata course I teach at the University of Pittsburgh, and I suggested that I could add an assignment that would allow students to create content for the blog. The idea was popular with the committee members, and I moved forward with incorporating the assignment into my syllabus.
The course, LIS2407 – Metadata, is offered at the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences, where I am an adjunct faculty member. It is an elective course in the Library and Information Sciences Master’s Degree program. The course description reads as follows: “Principles and application of metadata for networked information-resource organization, representation, retrieval, and interoperability using a variety of schemes and tools.” This semester, there are 25 students enrolled in the course. About half of them are in the archives specialization and the others are primarily in the academic libraries specialization or individualized program. A majority of the students are in their third (and final) semester.
Using the contributor guidelines from Metaware as a model, I developed the assignment. It counted as 10% of the student’s grade, and publication on the site was not required to meet the expectations of the course. Students were able to opt out of publication after submitting their post for the course. The students were required to select a topic of interest and submit a 500-1000 word essay that matched one of the Metaware categories: Analysis (longform discussions of a topics of interest in the metadata community), Editorial (opinion pieces for sharing personal observations related to metadata practice), or Review (Reviews of books, tools for metadata creation, and other resources of relevance to the metadata community).
The other assignments in the class required the students to work in pairs, and I decided to continue that policy for the blog post. Since this was a new initiative for Metaware, I was concerned about flooding the blog with 25 posts from students, or that we might see some duplication in the selected topics. Working in pairs gave students the opportunity to bounce ideas off of one another and edit each other’s work. It also seemed to alleviate some of the stress they might have felt about creating content for a publicly accessible blog. The students submitted their posts via Blackboard, and I provided feedback and assigned grades. The posts were then moved to Google Docs, and access was granted to the students and the Metaware editor. The editor made recommendations and edits that were turned back to the students for approval.
The greatest challenge we experienced during the semester was the lack of example content on the blog. When I offered to make this part of my course, I was hoping more to see more original content published on the blog. During the time between the Midwinter meeting and assigning the project, only three posts with original content were added to the blog, and two of those were related directly to the work of the Metadata Standards Committee. Some of the students expressed concern about their lack of expertise in the area, and were not sure where they could contribute. I encouraged them to explore other blogs, readings assigned for class, and assignments completed for other courses. At the time of writing, eleven of the thirteen posts will be ready for publication after minor editing. The remaining two posts require substantial editing before posting.
Over the next three to four months, I will be adding the student posts to Metaware. Assuming I’m teaching the course again next summer, I hope to include a similar assignment. I gave a status report on the project at the Metadata Standards Committee’s meeting at ALA Annual in June 2015, and we are hoping that other instructors consider including a Metaware writing project in their courses. There is great potential in giving students professional writing opportunities and allowing them to showcase their work to the greater metadata community. If you would like to consider incorporating a Metaware writing project into a course, please contact the Metadata Standards Committee via the Metaware Contributor Volunteer form.
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- Practicalities of Standards Adoption by Megan Massanelli and Mary Phillips
- Telephony Metadata and the Rights of U.S. Citizens by Leah Geibel and Erin Scrimger
- How I Explain Metadata to the Non-Metadata World by Angelina Spotts
- Metadata in the Real World by Reba Sell and Emily Schoenlein
- More Metadata, Less Process? by Kira Condee-Padunova and Laureen Wilson
- Metadata Interoperability Among LAMs by Samantha Cabo and Sara Purifoy
- Metadata between Archivists’ Toolkit and ArchivesSpace by Dominique Luster and Jon Klosinski
- “Metadata for All”: Looking Back to Metadata Standards by Eleanor Godbey and Kathleen Donahoe
- oXygen Review from New Metadata Learners by Gesina Phillips and Christie Kliewer
- Searching is Not the Answer by Rose Chiango and Katelyn Quirin