David Seaman

L-70: XML in Action: Creating Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Texts

4-8 July 2011

1)    How useful were the pre-course readings? (Leave blank if you applied and were accepted late for the course, and thus did not get the list in time.)

1: Very, when combined with the first day's lectures. (See below.) 2: The prereadings were very useful and I was pleased to have them. 3: Useful. 4: Very, though I think perhaps a bit more about some commonly-used TEI tags would have helped, too. 5: Very good information and preparation. 6: They were pretty useful. DS covered most of what was included in the readings but it was a good way to get a sense of the material. 7: Pre-course readings were useful, even very useful. However, it would have been helpful to have more info on the resources covered in class in the first couple of days available beforehand. 8: Very. Digitization and mark-up is dense stuff—getting a sense of it pre-class helped hone my questions. In addition, it will be useful as reference material when I get back to work. 9: Skimming was quite sufficient—you can't learn XML by reading about it, but it's useful to have an intro. 10: Very. But the instructor should have simply proceeded from the reading (i.e., assumed we had done it), asked for questions, and moved on, instead of rehashing it. 11: Very useful—there were a few readings in TEI in the Stauffer course, which also were applicable which I read last year. 12: You need it for attempting the course.

2)    Were the course workbook and other materials distributed in class appropriate and useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)?

1: More so—we cover so many new concepts and material in this course. I really appreciate the fact that DS gave us so much material to take home and work with after the class, because it's going to take time for all of it to sync in. 2: All of the Power Points, XML files and reference documents were made available for us to take home, including all students' coding assignments. These will be valuable materials for reflection in the coming weeks and will assist us with our projects. 3: Yes. 4: Yes. 5: All material will assist with future project and continued self-instruction. 6: Yes, they were very useful. 7: Yes. 8: Yes—we used them in class and I will refer to them when I'm back in the office. 9: The USB drives were most helpful—it would be useful to know for certain whether or not we could keep them from the start. 10: Yes—but should have been distributed in advance. Again, too much class time was spent on less than substantive comment on them. Less time could have been spent on the general description of the Occom project (that our samples were drawn from). 11: Yes—absolutely critical and extremely valuable to take home. DS is extremely generous to share so much of this information—DTDS, CSS, and other stylesheets. 12: Yes and Yes, a lot.

3)    What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes? Was the intellectual level of the course appropriate?

1: The basics. Our class had a variety of levels of expertise. 2: The course was a perfect mix of encoding standards history, relevant examples, clear definitions and a very practical assignment. 3: TEI P5 tagging practices and transformations. 4: Yes. Doing the transcriptions and markup; this helped me the most in terms of actually learning TEI. 5: Instructor has amazing breadth and depth about landscape and content. 6: The actual transcription and mark-up process, although I'm still a bit lost. 7: Of greatest interest and relevance were documentation relating to TEI and the actual encoding of sample documents. 8: The TEI encoding/transcription exercise itself. I learn by doing and found that to be illuminating. Intellectual level was appropriate. 9: I was most interested in stylesheets, though we didn't spend much time on them. It was an appropriate level for people with no TEI experience, a bit dull at times for people with it. 10: The specifics of XML tagging, design, and relationship with schemas. Intellectual level was generally good. 11: 1) Hearing about and working on the Dartmouth Ocean Project made what we were learning relevant. 2) Yes. 12: Knowing Oxygen (new software for me) and yes.

4)    What did you like best about the course?

1: (See answer to 2 above.) 2: The juxtaposition of lecture and working on the encoding assignment. Conversations about how to resolve encoding errors. 4: As DS promised us on the first day, he could (and often did) explain concepts and techniques in more than one way, using metaphors to give us not only a clearer conception of how XML and TEI work in conjunction with each other, but also how this meta-language and language, respectively, are situated in the greater context of libraries and archives. Borrowing his metaphor describing XML as the center of a wheel that with spokes leading out to pdf files, ebooks, and other formats, DS constructed his course using XML as the center for discussions about metadata, imaging, storage, and the equipment needed to accomplish all of this, situating these myriad considerations within the larger context of libraries and archives. This conceptual approach, combined with the two-and-a-half-day hands-on portion of the course, gave me an infinitely greater understanding of TEI and XML, as well as a greater understanding of how much I have yet to learn. It is to DS's credit as a teacher that I'm energized by this, rather than disheartened. 5: The candid and very practical approach of the instructor. 6: We covered a lot of ground. I liked the hands-on aspect of the class. 7: Encoding sample documents and wrestling with intellectual questions that arose while encoding. 8: Transcription/TEI encoding exercise. 9: I loved transcribing and tagging letters. It was the closest we came to what I would use TEI for. 10: Instructor's willingness to pursue questions. Introduction to useful tools for working with XML and related languages and environments. 11: Working in tagging the letters. 12: The possibility of asking everything.

5)    Did the instructor(s) successfully help you to acquire the information and skills that the course was intended to convey?

1: Yes. 2: Most definitely, DS is a superb instructor. 3-5: Yes. 6: He did. I wish we had more time to start on a TEI file from scratch but I know it is difficult with only a week. 7: Yes, though as I said in #1, more of the information that we went over could have been distributed in advance to save time. 8: Yes, DS is a wealth of knowledge, plans the days well but is receptive to our questions and the directions they might take our conversation. 9: Yes, I found the lectures and examples very helpful. Having the files to keep is very helpful in the long run, too. 10-12: Yes.

6)    Did you learn what the course description/advertisements indicated you would learn? Y/ N

1: Yes. For me, it would have been useful to have a straight beginner's TEI skills course (a lot of the systems-level work went over my head), but yes, it was covered. 2-8: Yes. 9: Yes. It would have been helpful to know we would spend so much time on metadata and cataloging—not my interests at all. 10-12: Yes.

7)    Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course? Y/N

1: Ask us in two weeks when it all sinks in. J 2-6: Yes. 7: Yes. Would have liked to have spent more time working hands-on with TEI and style sheets. But, overall, yes, I got what I wanted. 8: Yes. 9: No. I did learn a great deal, but more stylesheet work would have been key for me to make the most of the course. 10: Yes. More could have been done—see comments on 1 and 2—but the course did get me where I hoped to be. 11: Yes. More than I knew I wanted and intended to know! 12: Yes. Maybe I will explain more about stylesheets and how to do that.

8)    How do you intend to use or apply the knowledge or skills learned in this course?

1: Marking up our image database and converting Word texts to TEI. 2: I have a very specific project that will use this knowledge and hopefully improve my encoding skills. 3: Have several large TEI projects to manage. 4: I intend to use it to help fulfill my second language requirement for my Ph.D. 5: Will incorporate gained knowledge into existing projects and train local staff. 6: I want to eventually go into publishing. 7: To develop my own project related to my primary work. 8: I will be putting the content to work right away on a TEI mark-up project on our campus. Our first! 9: I work in digital editing and will apply TEI to an electronic edition project. 10: Various institutional and personal projects. 11: Yes. I have a digital c19 letter project where what I have learned this week will be immediately applicable. 12: Creating XML-TEI documents from a kind of text called in Spanish Relaciones de Sucesos, the precedent of newspapers produced in Europe between the XVI and the XVIII centuries.

9)    How could the course have been improved? If you have a suggestion for a new course (and—equally important—a person who could teach it), please contact the RBS Program Director.

2: The room was not conducive to group learning (it was the e-class) and the chairs are quite uncomfortable. 3: Total focus on TEI tagging practices and transformations—detailed tagging advice for additional document types (book, interview, letter, verse, etc.) (i.e., less on scanning, project management, &c.). 4: If DS teaches this course again, I have only two suggestions: (1) reserve a computer classroom that has a central table with computers along the walls (assuming this room set-up is available), and, related to the first item, (2) consider allowing students to pair up for part of a day or so. The reason I offer these suggestions is to foster a bit more discussion and collaborative learning from each other as well as him. I very much enjoyed learning from him, given his extensive knowledge of and experience with XML. And when we were each transcribing and marking up our individual letters, having individual computers in order to work alone and really begin learning XML and TEI was obviously essential. There were times, though, when I wanted to ask my fellow classmates questions, and to pair up with them while I was doing the markup, to swap notes and exchange ideas. So perhaps he could consider a different room set-up, or—if this isn't possible—perhaps re-structure the course slightly to allow for some occasional collaborative learning. 5: Course quite good as is. 6: I feel like the material from the first two days could have been covered in one day, giving us more time to do our own transcriptions and markups. 7: See nos. one, five, and seven. 8: A little less HTML/CSS, a little more XSLT and processing/transforming, and discussion about the TEI tags (and how you might employ them) specifically. 9: A separate course on stylesheets—writing, editing, and using, would be terrific follow-up to this class. I don't know who would run it, but maybe an IATH person? 10: See 1 and 2 above—generally, more advance preparation and less time in class on general [illegible—ed.]. Need a much better classroom. Also, both instructor and students should get access to UVa network that doesn't time out so quickly. 12: Everything was ok.

10)    If your course left its classroom to visit Special Collections (SC) or to make other field trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?

2: Most definitely. 3-7: Yes. 8: We went to the digitization lab. Interesting but a little off-topic, too theoretical for me. 9: The trip to Special Collections was neat—seeing the equipment and their process, too catalog-heavy for my exact interests. 10: Yes. 11: Yes, although I have visited SC digital several times, the information we heard was well-tailored to the needs and interests of the class. 12: Yes.

11)    We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching collections and of materials owned by UVa's Special Collections. If relevant, what suggestions do you have for the improved classroom handling of such materials used in your course this week?

2: No. 4: N/A (I was in a computer classroom.) 5: N/A. 7: None. 9: It would have been great to have a classroom where we could see each other as well as the computer screens, if such a thing exists at UVa. 10: Not relevant. 12: N/A

12)    If you attended the optional evening events (e.g. RBS Lecture, Video Night, RBS Forum, Booksellers' Night) were they worth attending?

2: Yes. 4: Yes. 5: N/A. 6: The ones I attended were great. 7: Yes. 8: Lecture, Forum, Bookseller's Night. Absolutely! 9: The lectures were very interesting—I missed the other events. 10: Lectures only—useful, but one was not very well-done. 11: Yes. 12: I couldn't be there.

13)    Did you get your (or your institutions) money's worth? Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year?

2-3: Yes. 4: Yes! 5: Absolutely did get money's worth. 6-7: Yes. 8: Yes. It's nice if you have a project waiting for you—seems like this topic would be lost quickly if not put into practice (at least for me). 9: The camaraderie of RBS is one of the great parts of the experience. The energy is fortifying and it's well-worth the time just to meet the folks who teach and attend here. 10: Yes. Bring your own laptop. Use of the computers provided was awkward—and did not allow any exploration outside of class time. 11-12: Yes.

14)    Would you recommend this course to others?

1: Yes. 2: Without hesitation. 3: Yes. 4: Absolutely! 5: Anyone and everyone! 6-8: Yes. 9: To archivists, not to digital humanities scholars unless they want just the basic TEI background—which is itself helpful but not hard to learn on one's own. 10: Yes. 11: Yes, the course exceeded my expectations. In a world where digital course instruction is more widely and readily available, this course plays a vital role in its RBS setting. 12: Yes.

Number of respondents: 12





Institution gave me leave




I took vacation time




N/A: self-employed, retired or had the summers off




I am self-employed

Work has nothing to do with RBS course






Institution paid tuition




Institution paid tuition ___%




I paid tuition myself




Exchange or barter




N/A: Self-employed, retired or scholarship





Institution paid housing




Institution paid for ___% of housing




I paid for my own housing




N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home







Institution paid travel




Institution paid ___% of my travel




I paid my own travel




N/A: lived nearby





There were one special collections subject-matter specialist (8%), one digital library developer (8%), three rare book librarians (28%), one part-time Ph.D. student and full-time undergraduate research program coordinator (8%), one full-time Ph. D student (8%), one general librarian with no rare book duties (8%), one full-time M.A. student (8%), one project manager of a database (8%), one digital special collections librarian (8%), and one professor of Spanish Literature (8%).

Where did you stay?

Brown College: 5 (42%)

The Lawn: 3 (25%)

Courtyard Marriott: 2 (17%)

Hampton Inn & Suites: 1 (8%)

Other: 1 (home) (8%)