random picture of speaker 1. Aims and Objectives
The Spoken Word will develop the use of digital libraries in undergraduate education and promote the distinct features and advantages of digital repositories. We will attempt to exploit the flexibility of digital media and libraries to promote students abilities to construct and define explicitly their own meaningful interpretation of original source audio materials. Through the successive development of curriculum and culture that embraces digital audio and libraries, we will attempt to create students capable of critical thinking while navigating and listening in digital libraries. We will work from theories of classroom pedagogy that note improved learning and teaching through curricula designed to utilize original source audio materials and constructivist practices of learning. This project will assess the affects that audio organized in digital repositories has on classroom teaching, on student comprehension, on student academic projects, and on the utility and value of the digital repositories. Specifically the project will focus on four primary research questions:

  1. Whether and to what extent online integration of audio materials from digital libraries increase students' content understanding and retention?
  2. Whether and to what extent classroom use of online audio materials from digital libraries results in students' improved aural literacy?
  3. Whether and to what extent access to online audio materials from digital libraries improve student use and proficiency in writing and creating multimedia academic projects?
  4. Whether and to what extent online tools designed for direct classroom integration improve the utility and value of digital libraries?

The Spoken Word will:

  1. identify and mine current digital repositories for pertinent content based on courses to be taught (e.g. Bio-ethics, American History, Law, etc.);
  2. work with common virtual learning environments (e.g., Blackboard, Angel) and re-craft existing online tools for them (designed to meet Open Knowledge Initiative specifications);
  3. integrate digital audio materials into classroom situations;
  4. and create a web site that
    1. will give educators and students ready access to tools and resources,
    2. will allow searching across collections,
    3. give detailed explanation and help for tool and resource use,
    4. give sample galleries, lesson plans, multimedia presentations, and other teaching aids,
    5. (Note: access to some resources may be restricted to particular user groups based on rights).

The Spoken Word project will deploy these resources in the classroom as part of innovative curricula to achieve four overarching objectives:

  1. increase content understanding and retention;
  2. improve aural literacy;
  3. improve student and teacher information literacy as measured by more articulated use of multimedia in an online setting for research and presentation;
  4. and improve in the utility and value of digital libraries.

2. Overall Approach

This project will utilize three sets of information to conduct the primary research:

  1. existing digital audio collections in the United States and the United Kingdom;
  2. current literature and reports from the international national digital library community;
  3. and quantitative and qualitative information gathered from teacher and student users of the online repositories and the access and annotation tools developed for the project.

Existing digital audio collections in the US and UK will form the base repositories for classroom use. In the UK, the holdings of our partners at BBC - Information and Archives are so enormous that we must first identify the areas likely to have the greatest impact both on numbers of participants and possible gains in teaching and learning. In the US, holdings under the National Gallery of the Spoken Word, Historical Voices, and The OYEZ Project provide a strong base set of materials for the test classrooms to utilize. These materials will be assessed for audio materials with direct correlation to current history and politics course curricula and for items that could expand or modify according to overall course objectives. We expect that some new materials will be added from the US partner, National Archives and Records Administration and their affiliated presidential libraries, taking into account pertinence to our test courses and digitization priorities of NARA.

All partners maintain strong ties to the current state of the fields of educational assessment, teaching and learning, and digital library development. These will including traditional and e-publications, discussion lists, and professional conference proceedings

In the absence of an overall theory for integrating digital libraries into undergraduate education (which would point us toward key measurement variables), we will create a set of comprehensive instruments to gather data about students, faculty, and institutions that history suggests are good predictors of results from educational innovation. We will complement information from these quantitative instruments with ethnographic activities and records of activity that describes use of our digital libraries. These measures will serve as foundations for models we develop, which describe processes and outcomes from our project.

Areas investigated: The research questions addressed by the project will be specifically applied to curriculum areas of undergraduate courses in history, political science and cognate disciplines in the U.S. and Britain. We will examine the usefulness of this project's audio materials for courses in modern British and U.S. history (particularly World War II and its aftermath as captured in BBC and NARA collections); for courses in the history of science (lectures and interviews providing insight to science as practiced across the twentieth century); for courses in American constitutional law (U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments spanning the last half of the twentieth century); and for courses in American politics (substantial holdings from the secret White House recordings during the Nixon and Johnson presidencies).

Audience/Potential Users: Results from this project will be useful to a range of constituencies: Faculty, Deans of Undergraduate Education, College Presidents, Budget and Finance Officers, University Directors of IT, and Funding Agencies that support these programs. In particular, teachers and students in undergraduate courses in history, political science and cognate disciplines in the U.S. and Britain will directly benefit. In the United States alone, approximately 5 million university students enrol in courses covering these domains each year. Results may inform a range of university and policy decision-making including: curriculum development; IT infrastructure planning; professional teacher development and graduate education; and targets and needs for future funding in these areas. The resources and tools developed will also serve the general public (Internet users) and researchers.

Interoperability, Scalability and Sustainability: Central to the Spoken Word is the elaboration of a suite of tools designed to enhance interoperability, scalability, and sustainability.

Project Pad, an online interactive tool, will allow user-driven segmentation and annotation of streaming audio files. Project Pad is an easy-to-use interactive API for general web annotation and collaboration now under development at Northwestern University . It will be extended to apply to audio resources as well as to text and images. Project Pad can be used to organize and share an outline of research notes with an instructor or others in a work group. It will be compliant with the Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI), increasing the likelihood of future alliances with university and commercial partners. Blackboard, for example, which holds the largest share among CMS use, is OKI compliant and could readily work with Project Pad as a "Building Block" API. OKI compliance is vital here, as it will allow us to use simple java applets to integrate Project Pad with our spoken word repository. To enhance usability of the annotation tool for extended user sets, we will also develop a server-side version of the tool. MATRIX will be developing a server-side version of Project Pad entitle, Media Marker.

The work at MATRIX has focused on, one, designing and developing the underlying architecture for a large scale digital repositories of sound; two, metadata development for sound repositories; three, evaluating and revising best practices for audio digitization; and four, developing both research based and educational web interfaces and tools to maximize the usefulness of digital sound. Project personnel, working from a storage archive model proposed by NASA as the Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS), have developed an OAIS based "archive" to store and provide access to audio files. This OAIS based repository incorporates the best ideas of an OAIS storage system - coordinated metadata management, coordinated data management, user/administrator feedback, and long-term storage and preservation practices. The standards developed and employed for the repository call for regular checks of data integrity, timely migrations, and state of the art storage for the digital files.

In addition to a stable digital repository, project personnel will employ Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS), an XML schema for digital object that has been approved through the DLF formal review process and is now is being hosted by the U.S. Library of Congress Standards Department. The METS XML schema provides an encoding format for administrative, descriptive, and structural metadata that is fully compliant with OAIS. METS will greatly facilitate interoperability and sustainability of the projects resources.

Given the current limitations of XML databases, the Spoken Word partners, like most researchers developing digital libraries, will use (or will develop) a relational database for their digital repository. However, the design of the database structure will mirror the functionality of XML with the intent to migrate to XML in the future, thereby maintaining the stability and durability of the project. Modelled after the METS schema, the database table structure will be highly flexible, allowing for continued growth and partnership with other institutions that have similar high quality collections.

Through its work on sound archives, MATRIX has developed a PHP based online utility that generates dynamically metadata ingestion/administration forms for projects. This utility allows projects to begin their participation in the repository through their existing metadata schemes (Dublin Core, MARC, EAD, etc.) and moving toward developing a full METS record. The tools facilitate (and for much of the technical metadata, automates) the ingestion of metadata. The repository tools also facilitate the development of research tools for online searching by the users of the collection and the dynamic generation of online galleries of digital materials. As a result, the project will provide online access to the full records of the collection and partial access to streaming versions of the digital files (those files determined to be in the public domain and determined by rights).

In summary, the SW project will build tools for existing courseware packages (OKI compliant and open source):

  1. Elaboration of "Project Pad" into an online interactive tool that will allow user-driven segmentation and annotation of streaming audio files (client side tool).
  2. Creation of online interactive portal tool, "Media Marker," a rich bookmark system designed to work inside streaming media, allowing teachers and students to create web-portal collections and online multimedia presentations (server-side tool).

The SW project will work toward classroom integration and transformation evaluated in the US and the UK in six types of basic undergraduate courses: Humanities, US History, US Politics, Constitutional Law, History of Science and World War II and Its Aftermath.

  1. Glasgow Caledonian University will
    1. make audio available to teachers and students from the BBC's collections
    2. supply resources to Biological Sciences (bioethics), Social Work (poverty), Political Economy (economi c p erformance, privatisation and regulation), Sociology (anti-apartheid and race) and History (impact of the Second World War)
    3. encourage third and fourth year students to consider using an 'electronically intensive' study approach (including peer group interaction) to these "collections" and to submit their final assessment as an electronic document
    4. make audio content available at Levels 1 and 2 to demonstrate the significance of audio as a source and the ways in which it can be used to interest / motivate students in selected topics where audio is a particularly appropriate medium.
    5. and articulate 'multi-channel' use - a mixture of face-to-face, paper, email and web interactions
  2. Michigan State University will
    1. coordinate the classroom learning and teaching research through the Center for Integrative Studies in the Arts and Humanities (CISAH) and the History Department:
    2. Design initial assignments that use both server and client side audio tools for History 203 (United States History Since 1865) (200 Students)
    3. Do larger scale deployment of tools in a number of WRAC and History courses
  3. Northwestern University will focus on American government and politics and constitutional law
    1. Establish baseline data (275 student survey)
    2. develop materials for history of science and technology and small research seminars for undergraduates (Kenneth Addler)