Students who sign up to do the DPTP Online 2017 will have noticed there is a lot of external material, in the form of web pages and downloadable PDFs.
Collectively, this amounts to the “Reading List” for the Course. When we did the DPTP as a face-to-face course, the Reading Lists printed in the Course handbook took up 18 pages. Students said the post-course reading was one of the most helpful parts of the experience; they wanted reference materials they could keep returning to.
We’ve worked hard on the reading lists in DPTP Online, and tried to improve them in the 2017 offering. There are now a lot more of these resources, but they are also better and more directly relevant to the teaching. We have also included more examples, case studies, and how-to guides, rather than yet another article discussing what “significant properties” in a file might mean.
We’ve always understood that our courses are simply a first step. Students will attend to gain a grounding in the language and terms of digital preservation; it’s not a course that can make one into an instant “expert”, or a practitioner. But we can open up the avenues of exploration that lie ahead, and signpost them as best we can.
The assumption is that the learner will carry on reading, after the course, and throughout their career. And that isn’t just about downloading PDFs and ebooks, but being pro-active in monitoring new developments, maintaining an active technology watch brief, learning about new tools and software, attending conferences to pick up on the latest research, and absorbing all of this information into your own digital preservation strategy. Building a Twitter following among fellow preservationists is something which we would advocate, as not only desirable but essential.
There is a strong community in digital preservation, and we have found it to be a healthy one. In it, professional people are not afraid to ask others for their opinion on the best way to deal with a TIFF file or how to manage preservation of a database. Nor do they fear to have their views and assumptions challenged by others. There are several ongoing debates, all of which help us reach a better understanding of our aims and our practices, as we inch towards success in digital preservation.
Therefore, if you have signed up to the DPTP Online, don’t shrink from those parts of the online course which promise lengthy reading sessions. You are not expected to complete them as part of the course, and they will remain available to you for a time after you have completed the learning. We want to help you start to build your own personal library of reference materials, and engage with the community as we propose, as you continue on your learning path.
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