It’s been a long time with no update, which of course means things have been pretty busy over the last few months. The good news is that I’ve finished the second year of my Masters, passing all the modules (phew!), and so now I can count myself as a holder of a Postgraduate Diploma in Information Management! The last couple of modules were very challenging but also very relevant to the work which I hope to engage in over the coming years.
It’s always great when you can incorporate your interests and passions into your work. The assignment for the Knowledge Organisation module last semester required me to construct a classification system for the corporate knowledge of an imaginary establishment. This is sometimes known as a corporate taxonomy, and it’s really a way of organising all the different kinds of information needed to perform the functions of a particular organisation or department. The taxonomy should also provide a way to present and disseminate relevant information to those who interact with it, whether they are internal staff or members of the public. For the purposes of this assessment, we could either invent a fictitious organisation or use an existing one as a guide. This is where I got excited…! I had chosen the scenario of a cultural establishment open to the public, and thought that a museum would make a good example…
One thing that has become clear in the past few weeks’ study of metadata is that there is no corner of human knowledge too small to have a metadata schema or taxonomy associated with it. General schemas such as Dublin Core are a great starting point to the messy business of cataloguing and describing information or artefacts, and it was exactly these qualities which made it a very good introduction to the general concept on the course that I’m studying. Yet, sometimes you need to go deeper, which Dublin Core allows only to a limited degree. With the vast and diverse extent of knowledge which various institutions have available, all of which needs to be organised in some form or another, it’s no wonder that more specific schemas would be needed.
As a prelude to starting my course, I recently enrolled on a separate Information Science course with Coursera. They host MOOCs in a variety of subjects, all provided free by various universities around the world. There’s been a lot said about MOOCs, and depending on whom you believe they are either the future of learning or yet another sign pointing to the end of civilisation. Of course I’m biased, having just signed up to an online Masters, but I do think there is something to be said for online courses. The traditional attendance-based way of learning is of course very good but for those who can’t attend because of time pressures or just practicalities, the online mode provides a vital access point to education which they wouldn’t otherwise have.