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Number: 71
Year: 2002
Author: Johann Van Reenen, Editor
Title: Digital Libraries and Virtual Workplaces. Important Initiatives for Latin America in the Information Age

Digital libraries as managers of courseware

      The daily operation of courseware and users is quite complex. We can think of users as: faculty members who may want to use courseware developed by different authors; students who must study the topics of courses they are taking; researchers who must retrieve items from the digital library; the digital librarians who operate the digital libraryand community users. Each class of users requires specific types of functions and controls.

      The granularity of topics equivalent to book chapters yields a large number of contents which make up a one semester course, not to mention the various instances of each content and the many classes in some courses.

      Digital libraries as the managers of courseware are suitable solutions because they allow the uniqueness of instances, sharing among faculty and courses, access control in different levels and functions, and control of versions and translations. This happens because, traditionally, libraries treat information from capture (acquisition) to distribution (circulation and access).

      The library community has adopted the metadata of the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set or DCMES (Dublin Core Metadata Initiative 1999) as the minimum set of attributes to identify digital objects. In July 2000, DCMI published the Dublin Core Qualifiers (DCMI 2000) to enhance the quality of digital object identification. The groups involved with learning technology (see: IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee, EDUCAUSE and IMS Global Learning Consortium) have defined additional attributes to the DCMES so that the learning objects (LO’s) are fully identified. Thus, identifying LO’s in accordance with DCMES is supported but more attributes were included but none was dismissed.

      Currently, most technology solutions to distance education consist of authoring tools - the instructor not only develops but manages the contents. As information technology becomes more popular as a support to learning, the number of LO’s will grow larger and the collections of LO’s will have to be managed by professional staff. This staff can be found in the library and the digital library is the technological environment to manage such collections.