Spotlight on the Digital: Technical Focus Group

digispot_storifyLast Friday I attended the Spotlight on the Digital technical focus group led by David Kay, of Sero Consulting and Owen Stephens, of Owen Stephens Consulting. The workshop was attended by institutional repository and archive managers, together with representatives of a wide range of bodies including the Welcome Trust, EDINA, the Archives Hub, Knowledge Integration, the Wikimedia Foundation and the British Library.

Spotlight on the Digital is run by Jisc in collaboration with RLUK and SCONUL.    The aim of the programme is to

“identify practical solutions that will support Higher Education (HE) institutions to enhance the discoverability of their digitised collections for the benefit of their key audiences, in particular researchers, teachers and students.”

The project is focusing on three user groups; researchers, students and university teachers. Two hundred publicly­ funded digital resources have been examined to assess their discoverability and a literature study of research on search behaviour has been undertaken.  In addition to the workshop I attended, the project team will also consult with a group of library directors.

I’ve created a storify of tweets from the event summarising the main points raised, which you can find here

It was a very interesting workshop that raised many important issues and highlighted some really innovative approaches to discoverability including; British Library Labs‘  Mechanical Curator project, which selects a small image taken at random from the pages of digitised works held at the library and posts it to tumblr ever hour on the hour; the Imperial War Museum‘s use of History Pin to crowd source information about their collections; and Cymu1900, a crowd sourcing project to transcribe Welsh place names.

However what struck me at the end of the workshop was that we had barely scratched the surface of issues relating to the discoverability of educational content. Educational materials are frequently scattered, messy, poorly catalogued, lack persistent identifiers, and rarely reside in well managed archives or repositories.  This raises a whole host of issues and problems in relation to discoverability.

While context is an important aspect of discoverability for all kinds of digital artefacts, it is critical for educational content.  One inspiring project highlighted by Owen Stephens which addresses both contextualisation and educational resources is the National Maritime Museum‘s contextualisation of the digitised Board of Longitude papers by creating stories around the artefacts and developing Key Stage resource packs for schools.

Board of Longitude Key Stage 3 resources from the National Maritime Museum

Board of Longitude Key Stage 3 resources from the National Maritime Museum

My Cetis colleague Brian Kelly, who also attended the workshop, has written up this thoughts on the role of Wikipedia in this context: Spotlight on Wikipedia: the opportunities and the risks.