What is DPTP Online?
DPTP Online is a new online course that offers paying customers an introduction to digital preservation. It aims to teach students about strategies they can use to make digital preservation possible.
This new offering from ULCC is an online learning version of the award-winning face-to-face Course which we have been teaching since 2005. In terms of the content it offers, it’s pretty much the basic two-Day Course which we have been calling “An Introduction to Digital Preservation”.
However, we took the opportunity to reinstate content and case studies from modules which we’ve always had in reserve, but had retired from the Course in order to keep it under two days. We’ve also added quizzes, case studies, videos, exercises, and forums. The entire contents of the Reading List, which used to be a 16-page PDF, has been added as live links and attachments, under “Further Reading”. All of this means DPTP Online is quite a rich experience.
DPTP Online thus represents the distilled concentration of expertise from some of the strongest brains in digital preservation today – including the work of original DPTP tutors Kevin Ashley, William Kilbride, Patricia Sleeman, Jen Mitcham, Simon Tanner, Maggie Jones, Andrew Wilson, and others. It’s also fair to acknowledge that the idea of DPTP was inspired by the pioneering work of Anne Kenney and Nancy McGovern at Cornell University (a Course which still exists as the Digital Preservation Management Workshops).
Why DPTP Online? Why now?
We’ve been thinking about doing an online version for some time. We used to get a lot of emails from overseas students who were keen to study this subject, but could not afford to travel to London. Nor were they eligible to apply for a DPC scholarship to cover the course fees. We still get such emails today, and hope that our new DPTP Online course caters to their needs.
We have also learned from our Training Needs Survey of 2015. One key finding was that an online course like this might be popular, again for economical reasons – it seems people find it hard to travel, book hotels, and get time off work when going on a training course.
Naturally we have priced DPTP Online to be cheaper than its face-to-face cousin.
Another advantage of delivering the course online is that students can learn at their own pace, instead of suffering the fatigue induced by 2-day “information overload” which some of our students have noted in the past.
How we got there
Building DPTP Online has been an instructive and fascinating experience. The face-to-face DPTP existed (and still exists) as PowerPoint slides, which act as a framework for the training delivery. However when we first mooted the idea of remaking the DPTP as an online course, my mentor Kevin Ashley wisely counselled me along these lines:
“It’s not enough to just recast PowerPoints into a Moodle, even though technically you could do that. And don’t think about adding videos and transcripts of me lecturing the class. To make it really effective teaching, you have to remake everything.”
Bearing this in mind, we had to think long and hard about how to translate our old content into chunks of learning that would work in an engaging and interactive way. It’s not simply a case of cutting and pasting text from slides, but rounding out the narrative with interesting additions: adding links to websites, building webpages with diagrams and images, and interactive elements for the students, such as quizzes, wikis, forums, and assignments.
We did a lot learning from others, including attending the four-week Moodle Skills Programme (which ULCC used to co-ordinate); taking crash courses in Moodle configuration from the ULCC team; and frequent story-boarding / QA exercises between myself and my colleague Steph Taylor, where we broke down the large amount of content into Courses, Topics, and Categories.
We made use of the Moodle expertise and hosting arrangements currently available at ULCC. One particular breakthrough is the way we have managed to link our Moodle up with a payment / enrolment mechanism (Eventbrite), which is something of a first for ULCC.
As a way of testing the content, we released the OAIS portions of the Course as a stand-alone Freemium in November 2015. This allowed us to go live with some of the content and test it under active conditions, and see whether the community would find it useful.
The value of DPTP Online
DPTP Online is an entry-level course aimed at complete beginners who wish to learn more about the field of digital preservation. The course is ideal for starters in all disciplines who want to know more about digital preservation, gain confidence, and feel enabled to start working with digital preservation.
Some of the learning messages in the DPTP may be more familiar to this community than they were (say) five or ten years ago, but the DPTP still has a lot to offer. The audience for the training is growing and expanding, even if it still tends to remain in the self-selecting sector of archivists and librarians who already have an interest in digital preservation. We aim to provide learning packages that are suitable for non-specialists, managers and executives, and even IT specialists. We have provided numerous resources to support each topic and clear explanations of what all this terminology means.
We’re looking forward to receiving feedback from students on what we have done, so we can engage with a programme of continual improvement. In fact we’ve made sure you have to send us feedback; you can’t print your certificate of attendance until you do. Feedback has always been extremely important to us, and helped to shape the Course. Each instance of the DPTP face-to-face Course has been improved by user feedback from the previous instance. We always listen to suggestions for subjects, themes, and ways of teaching.
In future, we will certainly build and offer more online courses, and ideas currently in the pipeline include:
- More individual topics, such as how to preserve email, or how to preserve databases
- Providing more learning pathways (at the moment it’s still a bit linear)
- Aim at responding to and addressing more needs identified in the training needs survey
- Training directed at more specific sectors with a need for digital preservation, such as research data managers or image libraries