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Metadata and XML Workshops: Main Course Component

PLEASE NOTE

Please note that all references and content information can only be considered current as of May 2003. It is your responsibility to verify the materials and update them as necessary.

Introduction

Both the metadata and XML workshops are intended to be introductions to the subjects, not technical, hands-on classes. The goal is to provide basic knowledge about the subject, to give people the confidence to learn and do more, and to point to additional useful resources.

Basic Workshop Structure and Format | Preparation | Course Books | Tips for Instructors

 

Basic Workshop Structure and Format

Each workshop is designed as a single, full-day session. This allows plenty of time to cover the material as well as accommodating breaks and giving participants the opportunity to ask questions and initiate discussion.

Each workshop is designed to be independent and can be offered without the other. However, if both are given to the same group, we recommend offering the metadata workshop first. While some of the introductory material is the same for each, metadata itself is a broader topic that is well-suited for opening discussion about various general aspects of information resource management. XML, on the hand, is a specific standard that requires more detailed technical treatment.

The workshops are broken down into units that range from introductory, context-setting material, to specific information about standards, projects, etc. The main reason for using this format is to allow for maximum flexibility and customization. According to your needs, units can be easily shortened or lengthened by adding or subtracting material, or removed from the presentation entirely.

We strongly recommend that you customize the materials to reflect your local experiences, projects, and priorities. This will give you and your participants familiar, common points of reference that will better draw them into the topic and encourage discussion and action. Points of customization are marked in the instructor books with an icon.

 

Preparation

Beyond customizing the course content, there are other preparations you must make before the workshop session itself. These include:

  • Finding a space to accommodate the number of participants and instructors. The basic needs are a projection screen that everyone can easily see, tables with room for everyone to work comfortably, and an arrangement that facilitates discussion among the group.

  • Deciding whether to offer refreshments and lunch, or letting participants fend for themselves during breaks. If participants have to go very far to find food and drink, you may need to allow for longer breaks. If you are not providing lunch, consider creating a list of affordable restaurants for them to choose from.

  • Verifying all URLs referenced in the e-mails and course book, and updating as necessary.

  • Copying participant course books and any additional handouts. Consider binding the course books in some fashion (e.g., spiral-bound, three-ring notebooks) to make them easier to use during the class and more attractive as a reference tool. Handouts may be copied onto colored paper to distinguish them from one another.

  • Gathering general supplies. A list of basic items is available.

    Workshop Supplies:    Microsoft Word 2000 | PDF | RTF

 

Course Books

For each workshop, we have developed two course books: one for participants and one for instructors. The only difference between the two is that the instructor's book also contains a suggested “patter,” the running narrative that accompanies each page. The patter for each workshop should be reviewed and customized to echo your own knowledge and experience.

Please note that all references and content information can only be considered current as of May 2003. It is your responsibility to verify the materials and update them as necessary.

Course books for the metadata and XML workshops are available.

 

Tips for Instructors

Based upon workshop experiences, we offer the following tips to organizers and instructors:

  • Team-teaching with two people works very well for an all-day session because it reduces instructor fatigue and helps keep participants engaged. One person acts as presenter while the other acts as “coach,” and then the two switch roles after a time. The coach's role is to support the presenter by taking notes as needed during the session (e.g., changes that need to be made to the patter or slides, participant questions, ideas for new content), timing breaks, getting additional supplies, etc.

  • Projecting the participant course book pages as “slides” is essential because it helps participants track where you are in the material.

  • We chose to use Word 2000 rather than PowerPoint to create and maintain the projection slides and course books because more content fits on a page and it's easier to edit. We found, however, that it's difficult to project an entire page on-screen using Word. As an alternative, we created a PDF file of the slides from Word using Adobe Acrobat and then projected that using the “View Full Screen” option. Consider making the font of your presentation slides larger than the font in the course book for easier viewing. This could affect the amount of text which fits on a page, so to avoid confusion, reassure the participants that the content is indeed the same as what is in their books.

  • Practice your presentation and slide projection ahead of time to minimize the chances of technical difficulties during the actual session.

  • The patter included in the instructor's course book is just a guide, it's not written in stone. Don't just read the patter, but take the time to put the ideas in your own words and learn the material well enough ahead of time so that you only need to glance occasionally at your notes. This will give you more confidence as an instructor and help convince participants that you know what you're talking about. Consider making a list of possible questions participants might raise and then decide how you would answer those.

  • Sometimes participants will raise issues or questions that are better left until later in the session or that don't fit in at all. Rather than breaking the momentum of the unit, tactfully note these items on a big sheet of paper and post them. At the end of the day, review this “parking lot” list. Many items may have been covered during the session. Promise to follow-up on those that haven't been or explain why you won't.

  • Don't be afraid to say “I don't know,” but follow it up with “but I will get back to you about that.” Participants appreciate honesty more than hedging or guesses. Perhaps you can find the answer during a break and address the participant's question during the session. If not, follow-up with the answer, or at least pointers to more information or another source, as soon after the workshop as possible.

  • Encourage questions and discussion, because many times, the people in the workshop know more than you about the topic or issue in question. Sessions where the instructor just drones on can be boring and turn participants off to the topic. Get them involved by having them talk about their own situations and experiences. In such a situation, learning becomes two-way - you will discover what's important to them, and they will have a chance to “customize” the course to meet their own needs.

  • Begin and end on time. Because a full-day session can be very tiring, participants will appreciate it if you stick to the schedule.

  • At the very end of the session, put your ego aside and conduct a quick “debriefing.” This debriefing can take the form of first asking “What did we do well?” and then “What can we do better?” Jot down notes on two (or more) big sheets of paper. Stress that these thoughts can range from the seemingly trivial (e.g., good food, the room was too cold) to more substantive (e.g., wanted to learn more about metadata tools). This feedback will help you plan your next session and gives everyone the responsibility of helping to improve the workshop.

  • Keep in mind that not everyone likes to speak up publicly with their comments. Hand out course evaluation forms to be completed in class or returned at a later time. Sample course evaluation forms are available for your review.

    Metadata Workshop Course Evaluation:    Microsoft Word 2000 | PDF | RTF

    XML Workshop Course Evaluation:    Microsoft Word 2000 | PDF | RTF

  • And, of course, don't forget to thank everyone profusely and shamelessly for their time and attention. Remind them that you will be sending out occasional post-course e-mails and that they should feel free to contact you to discuss the materials further or if they have any questions. Make yourself available as a resource!

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