Building a virtual archives and preservation curriculum laboratory at Simmons GSLIS
Version of Record online: 3 FEB 2011
Copyright © 2010 by American Society for Information Science and Technology
Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Volume 47, Issue 1, pages 1–2, November/December 2010
How to Cite
Bastian, J. and Plum, T. (2010), Building a virtual archives and preservation curriculum laboratory at Simmons GSLIS. Proc. Am. Soc. Info. Sci. Tech., 47: 1–2. doi: 10.1002/meet.14504701351
- Issue online: 3 FEB 2011
- Version of Record online: 3 FEB 2011
This demonstration showcases the Simmons GSLIS Digital Curriculum Laboratory (DCL), a collaborative teaching and learning environment to support the archives, preservation and cultural heritage informatics curricula. The Digital Curriculum Laboratory is a virtual space comprised of digital content, scenarios describing archival and preservation processes, metadata standards, and a set of digital asset management applications, where students problem-solve, experiment, evaluate and gain hands-on experience with digital materials in a classroom context.
BACKGROUND TO THE DCL
Supported by a small planning grant through Simmons College, a team of three GSLIS faculty members began designing the functional requirements for a Digital Curriculum Laboratory in 2008. Following grant awards from IMLS and NHPRC,  a team of faculty, staff and students, began building the DCL in January 2010. The work of archivists and preservationists is increasingly concerned with digital information, both digitized as well as born-digital, and educators are challenged to design hands-on teaching tools and pedagogy in virtual environments for their students.  The DCL was originally conceived to support the GSLIS Archives, Preservation, and Cultural Heritage Informatics Curricula.  The DCL, a virtual laboratory, is a controlled and protected space that contains a variety of digital content, provides an array of tools for describing, preserving and managing this content, and builds an evolving set of instructional learning modules that prepare students for today's jobs in the archives and preservation environment. The DCL facilitates scenario-building, problem-solving, evaluation and tool utilization by making it possible for students to apply and assess a variety of online archival, preservation, and cultural heritage procedures and techniques. The lab is designed to be flexible and extensible, so that new modules and functions can be added as the needs of faculty and students change. Importantly, students will have opportunities to experiment with and evaluate new applications and developing standards. 
The DCL was initially designed for Archives and Preservation students as well as students in our new Cultural Heritage Informatics program. This demonstration showcases several digital asset management web applications and how they can be employed in practicing digital curation. The demonstration shows four electronic scenarios within the DCL. The site, designed by project staff members, Molly Duggan (Content and Interface Assistant) and Mary Bennett (Technology Assistant), was crafted as an integrated space for content, instruction, situations and trouble-shooting. Scenarios exploring issues of trust, digital forensics, digital and repository applications, and cultural heritage guide the students through the virtual environment.
We will provide 4–5 netbooks displaying the main host site, http://gslis.simmons.edu/dcl/lab. From the home page, observers and participants are encouraged to select a scenario. The scenario is situational, is guided by student learning outcomes, and provides step-by-step instructions for the student using a set of tools installed on the DCL servers, which enable the user to integrate the application into their chosen scenario. The installed open-source applications include: Alfresco, CollectiveAcces, DSpace, EPrints, Greenstone, Omeka and others. Distributed materials and web pages describe the installed applications, and provide an overview of their capabilities. A poster details the vision of the Digital Curriculum Lab, supplemented by brochures, FAQs and other materials in print and on the web, which interested observers may consult or take with them.
Two project staff members, Molly Duggan and Mary Bennett, will be on site to answer questions and demonstrate use of the software applications as they apply to the given scenarios.
1. Preservation Scenario − 1. Digital Forensics
This scenario assumes a donation to a university library of old media (three-and-a quarter inch diskettes and Zip disks) containing digital files that need to be preserved so that they are usable in the future. The files are word-processed files including MS-Word, and files created using early database software. They date from the mid 1980s to about 2005. The scenario asks student to identify the file formats; download and install software to open the files; and to save the files, while preserving their functionality, if appropriate, in a preservation friendly format.
2. Preservation Scenario − 2: Selecting a Preservation Repository Application
The outcome of this scenario is the selection of a repository application that is appropriate for preservation. Students identify the requirements for a digital archive; determine the requirements digital objects to be successfully archived over time; identify the appropriate metadata requirements and standards; and evaluate specific applications for their suitability in meeting the requirements.
3. Cultural Heritage Informatics Scenario
This simulation asks that the user select a group of documents from existing digital assets in a museum, library or archives repository for the purpose of assembling an online exhibition. The participant is asked to ensure that the files are in an appropriate format for long-term preservation; to identify the appropriate open source application to manage these digital files over time; to determine the metadata requirements; to populate the selected application with the digital content; and to test the front end of the selected application for suitability for the users of the repository.
4. Trust Scenario
This scenario seeks to show archives students how each digital asset management tool creates a system that brings its own biases and interpretive contexts, some of which the archivist may want and trust and some not. The students describe a set of digital objects using a commonly accepted description framework, such as CDWA. They then upload the digital objects and metadata into several different systems, such as DSpace, Omeka and CollectiveAccess. Students compare the home pages of each system, the search functions, the presentation of retrieved records, the display of a single record, and the metadata standards in the different systems. They analyze how the system makes assumptions about its expected use, and then discuss how the assumptions and defaults of the system bias use and the user.
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- 4Building a Virtual Archives and Preservation Curriculum Laboratory at Simmons College: A Case Study in Collaborative Construction’, JELIS: Journal of Education for Library and Information Science., , & (forthcoming) ‘