Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Teaching about digital assets

Yesterday I agreed to teach a course entitled "Creating, Managing and Preserving Digital Assets" for Syracuse University during the Spring 2005 semester. The class, which I've taught before, will be done solely online.

Teaching about digitization in an online environment, without ever seeing your students, is an interesting adventure. One must decide how to talk about the various aspects of creating, managing and preserving digital objects/images in a way that makes students realize that there is more to know -- that digitization isn't as easy as one thinks.

One challenge that I encountered last spring was having student find digitization vendors to talk to and write about for an assignment. Here in New York State, there are many vendors. Yes, you might have to drive to get to the perfect vendor, but we have vendors nonetheless. But not so in other parts of the country. In the central part of the country and near the Rocky Mountains, vendors are hard to find. In fact, they don't exist in some areas at all. Rather than being able to visit a vendor, students had to rely on information gathered electronically about the vendors or through telephone conversations.

And some vendors would not talk to students. Did they fear giving away some secret? Did they suspect that the students were actually competitors? Sadly, vendors gave up an opportunity to talk to a group that will be needing their services in the future OR who might refer a potential client. Very sad.

It was also sad that some vendors were unknown entities in their community. This occurred in California where one student talked to local libraries and museums about digitization vendors in the region, but they knew of none. The student did finally find a couple of vendors, who were missing out on a market that needed them.

For now, who knows what adventures this class will bring. Hopefully the adventures will be fun.

By the way, I'm again using the book by NEDCC entitled HANDBOOK FOR DIGITAL PROJECTS: A Management Tool for Preservation and Access, which is available only online. I'll be supplementing that will a wide variety of readings from reputable sources found on the Internet and in article databases like OCLC FirstSearch.

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