Pragmatic support for taxonomy-based annotation of structured digital documents

Whitelaw, Lara; Collins, Trevor; Zdrahal, Zdenek; Mulholland, Paul; Potter, Linda; Scantlebury, Non and Taylor, Josie (2009). Pragmatic support for taxonomy-based annotation of structured digital documents. The Electronic Library, 27(5) pp. 755–767.



Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop support for the annotation of educational resources within a digital library and their subsequent integration with distance learning course materials in a virtual learning environment.

Design/methodology/approach – A toolset for supporting the annotation of structured course materials was developed in participation with subject librarians, lecturers and library cataloguers.

Findings – The transparency of support provided by the system was found to be an important factor influencing the acceptance of the toolset. The approach was to facilitate rather than automate the annotation tasks of the subject librarians, lecturers and cataloguers.

Research limitations/implications – The tools developed were used in two pilot applications: one for an undergraduate health and social care course, and the second for a postgraduate science communication course. The implications of the research are not limited to these domains, and further applications of this approach and the toolset would help to further generalize and refine the work done.

Originality/value – The value of the work described here is in identifying the benefits of transparent support tools for multi-disciplinary teams involved in the production and deployment of online course materials. Here the benefits of metadata annotation are highlighted by enabling the subject librarians, lecturers and cataloguers to see how the annotations are made and the consequences of those choices.

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