Receiving feedback on my digital collection, there are a few issues I’d like to discuss (with myself?) 🙂  I think the first issue I had beyond getting permission from professors to use their work was making a meaningful collection out of what I was able to get.  Admittedly, I could have organized better.  There is a fine line between digital collection and repository.  I’m pretty certain my collection at this point would be better described as a repository.  If you want to be really mean (and accurate) it is pretty much a document dump as it stands.  What I should have done differently is the structure.  I should have made depth to the collection instead of having everything listed on one page rather haphazardly.  I should have had the professor’s names be links and then had their respective syllabi listed in chronological order.

What might be a good idea to include are some other things involved with the courses.  I think it might be a good idea to digitize the handouts and study guides that they prepare as well.  I think that might preserve more transferrable knowledge than the syllabi themselves.  Especially when many faculty don’t change the assignments from course to course year to year.

One thing I think would have made my project much more interesting and better overall would be searchability.  I can add tags until I’m blue in the face, but at the end of the day the user will have to go in and search for what they want by hand, metaphorically speaking.  Publishing this type of collection in a searchable format would add infinite levels of value and usability.

Another idea would be to expand the collection to syllabi and associated resources from other universities.  One thing that great text collections have (JSTOR, Project Gutenberg, etc.) is appeal to a large group of users, not just a selected handful. It would be neat to compare both the course offerings and also the content of individual courses.  Perhaps it could benefit faculty by helping them decide what creates an excellent masters’ level program.  Workloads could be standardized, ideas could be shared and discussed based on the information provided in my digital collection.

It was not clearly explained that the purpose of my collection was that my collection was intended to be a syllabus archive. Honestly, I thought that was clear based on what I was collecting, but then I forget that most people don’t think like I do.  Collecting these things is not a showcase by any means.  Syllabi aren’t pretty or dazzling by themselves.  At least, I don’t think so.  I looked at my collection as a way of preserving knowledge from one generation of grad students to another.  It is also a way to understand the changes and developments in the discipline of history of science and how the assignments given in these syllabi reflect methodological, epistemological, and historiographical trends.

Finally, and most shallowly, I wish my collection could have more visual interest. I wish I could have colorful, more interactive menus and prettier texts and even a few choice digital images from our  HSCI Collections image collection.

Overall I’d say my collection isn’t a total loss, it’s more of a jumping off point.  Despite the things I wish I could change or fix I still think it’s a valuable project as a syllabus archive.

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