I teach a hands-on class in EAD and other related technologies. Initially I required student to have taken Archives 101 so they would see how EAD's basic structure relates to archival description theory. After the first two semesters of offering the class I got students with no archival background wanting the class because of the XML experience. After a couple test runs, I changed my requirements.
What non-archives students going into the class genuinely need to know about archival description, I think they can get from the Fox and Wilkerson book the Getty makes available; I refer them to that and expect them to take care of it themselves. Since we use DACS in the class, they get deeper insight as we go along. Since I teach the class with more focus on the technology than on archival description theory, I've found no difference in the performance between archives and non-archives students. I do repeatedly point out the practical/financial tension that lies behind a lot of EAD implementation decisions. So, while non-archival students may be asked to learn more than they want to know about specific archival issues, I don't think it's wasted knowledge for anyone; parallel issues exist in digital libraries.
Obviously there's no one answer to your question; my answer has evolved over the past five years, and I'm sure it will continue to evolve.
Elizabeth H. Dow
School of Library and Information Science
Louisiana State University
From: Encoded Archival Description List on behalf of Riley, Jenn
Sent: Tue 6/19/2007 5:51 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: teaching EAD
We're having some discussions here at Indiana University about the
appropriate way to teach EAD as part of the curriculum in the School of
Library and Information Science. Our goal is to have an option for
learning EAD for students both in the Archives specialization and in the
Digital Libraries specialization (but not limiting to these two, of
course). Where we're getting stuck is figuring out the right way to
build EAD on top of learning principles of archival description and
For Archives specialization students, it makes perfect sense to require
an arrangement/description class as a prerequisite to a hands-on EAD
course, and just focus the latter on the technical issues, encoding,
XSLT, delivery systems, etc. But this won't work for students outside
that specialization, as we'd like to be able to get basic enough
experience with EAD in a single class in an already-packed curriculum.
Having myself learned EAD the hard way knowing the technical issues
first and having to pick up the fundamental arrangement and description
principles bit by bit over time, I'm of the opinion that that method
isn't the way to go - that to really "get" EAD you have to know about
how archives do things first. I'd be willing to be convinced otherwise,
So, given this, I'm concerned that we wouldn't be able to include in an
EAD course enough about archives and the need for EAD in the first place
to meet the non-archival students without wasting the time of the
archives students. Or am I underestimating the value of repeating
information for really learning it?
What do those of you who teach EAD think about the need to learn
arrangement principles before technical practices? Do you have a method
you find effective in teaching EAD to communities who have different
needs for it?
Looking forward to an interesting discussion!
Digital Library Program
Indiana University - Bloomington
Wells Library W501
Inquiring Librarian blog: www.inquiringlibrarian.blogspot.com