David Seaman

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

4-8 June 2012

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. 2: The "gentle" intro to XML was very hard to read. DS explained the same principles in a cogent and conversational way. I advise assigning the W3C Schools XML tutorial instead. 3: Very helpful. 4: The pre-course readings were meant to be skimmed for the most part; both readings are good things to be familiar with, of course. 6: Good review of what was covered. 7: Very useful, although as this is a very practical, hands-on course they make much more sense when you are doing the course—great to refer back to, though. 8: They were useful and helpfully described in an introductory email. 9: The "gentle introduction to XML" article was fabulous—definitely a keeper. I had no additional prep. 10: The pre-course readings were fairly helpful in establishing general understanding, but this was not a course relying heavily on reading ahead. I sought out metadata course materials from library school (former classmates) to supplement. 11: Pre-course reading was minimal, but sufficient. 12: Quite helpful. Though many of the concepts were re-introduced in class, I think it's quite valuable to read them beforehand to let the ideas macerate a bit.

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: Yes. 2: The many digital materials provided were relevant to coursework and will help us apply our learning back at our institutions. 3: Yes! All well-organized and good content. I'm very glad to have all on the memory-stick to take home. 4: The thumb drive DS provided is full of extremely useful material, and I'm sure to use it in the near future. 5: Excellent. I plan to use stylesheets for my own projects. 6: Yes, DS gave us a memory stick with references. 7: Yes, very much so; the resource list is amazing and something I will repeatedly return to. 8: Yes, extremely. The thumb drives were a great prize—the folders were packed with useful examples and models that I will be using for a long time to come. 9: Yes! DS was overly generous in giving us so many extra materials (via flashdrive) to help us practice and progress on our own. 10: Very thorough and thoughtful course materials provided upon arrival—delighted to have them at my disposal. 11: The included list of XML-related resources will come in very handy in the future. 12: The materials were very useful, and will provide good models in future. USB stick distribution was the perfect method for sharing these.

3) Have you taken one or more RBS courses before? If so, how did this course compare with your previous coursework?

1-4: N/A. 5: Yes. Both were good. 6-7: N/A. 8: One previous. The "XML in Action" was a different sort of class, but was similarly intense, well-structured, and well-taught. 9-11: N/A. 12: Yes. Same high quality, but vastly different domains, so it's hard to make direct comparisons.

4)    What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes?

1: Use of software. 2: I benefited from the direct tagging practice, of which we had 2.5 days. Also, the final discussion of creating ebooks will be of professional value to me. 3: All of it was good. I came to focus on TEI, but was glad to get an overview of digitization and other aspects of digital projects. It was good to get an overview of how all the parts fit together. 4: Being able to work in-depth for the first time with TEI while in a group and with DS' assistance was quite valuable. 6: TEI tags and use. 7: All of it—it was broader than I thought so I got a lot out of it. 8: Having a knowledgeable instructor walk us through example files, translating markup into English. 9: All of the TEI and XML components are relevant if I begin encoding manuscripts for the Papers of George Washington this summer. 10: Hands-on, collaborative experience with XML tagging "in action" and beyond theory. 11: Though not directly relevant at present, the introduction to digitization and imaging tools was very interesting for potential future projects. 12: The hands-on practice of transcription and tagging. I hope someday to be able to draw on the introduction to imaging techniques and practices—which was fascinating—but that may be a while off.

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

1-2: Yes and yes. 3: Yes to both. I feel like I've gotten a good foundation and can continue to educate myself further. 4: DS had a ready answer for most questions. In the event that he hadn't already covered the topic, which he had already done in most cases. 5: Yes. 6: I was hoping for more info about TEI tags and use. 7: Yes and yes—the instructor was really great. 8: Yes, DS is extremely helpful: he is gracious, charming, and deeply knowledgeable. He was very good off the cuff, answering student questions with great clarity. 9: Yes, indeed! His pacing was excellent and he managed to make it quite comprehensive. 10: Yes; yes. 11: The instruction was careful and thorough, and I found the intellectual level satisfactory. 12: We had a very good group with a variety of backgrounds: I think everybody was expert in some part of the puzzle, and a rank beginner in other parts. The instructor managed to bring the whole group through all the parts both well and smoothly.

6) What did you like best about the course?

1: Tinkering with actual letters. 2: DS's pedagogical style, and the pure practice. 3: I really enjoyed doing the actual encoding, but appreciated how DS structured and paced the entire course. I was glad to get the content, but also to see a good example of how to introduce people to TEI. 4: Having expert assistance directly at hand while acquiring basic skill. 5: DS's approach to the material. 6: Easy to follow; good examples. 7: Instructor was fantastic; excellent pace and very fair. 8: The patter, the thumb drive, meeting the other students and hearing about their projects. The visit to UVA Special Collections/Digital Services was particularly eye-opening and provided important context for this course. 9: The instructor answered any and all questions and allowed for much student interaction. 10: The instructor and the particular combination of students. 11: Demonstrations of the iPad's augmented reality features and similar tools provided inspiration for possible future applications. 12: Its practical and hands-on nature.

7) How could the course have been improved?

1: Again, I understand that there were reasons for this ... yet I feel like we explored a lot of topics relating to XML and TEI that weren't necessarily relevant to the topic at hand. They were good background and useful, but for my part I would have preferred more depth instead. 4: I did not think the course needed significant improvements. 5: Course is really quite good. 6: More discussion of TEI specifically. 7: If I had to mention one thing it would be that it would have been useful to know there were laptops here, as it would have saved me lugging mine in on the first day. 8: I might like to work with a schema and a style sheet in class ... I understand that these are more advanced topics, but—by Friday—I think we must have enough wherewithal to get into one of those ugly files and muck about. DS walked us through the process, but we might be asked to do some transformations ourselves. 9: Perhaps we could style our documents in addition to encoding them, but I realize this is not a CSS course! 10: More time! (Not a realistic request). 11: Some explanations and digressions, though informative, were a touch lengthy. 12: I'm not sure it could be without stretching to a second week.

8)    Did you learn what the course description/advertisements indicated you would learn?

1-12: Yes.

9)    Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course?

1-2: Yes. 3: I thought I would want more help with XSLT, but now I see that there wouldn't be time to do justice to both. 4-11: Yes. 12: There's more I'd like to learn of course, but it wouldn't be possible to fit it into a single week.

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

1: I hope to set up a database and do some TEI encoding! 2: I will be able comfortably to converse about TEI/XML projects with fellow staff, and manage relevant projects. 3: I have a personal encoding project to work on and feel better equipped to advise other newbies. 4: By mounting a project to digitize and encode diaries held by our institution. 5: Yes: plan to start a project based on the course. 6: Be an advocate for TEI markup at my institution. 7: I will directly apply them to the project I am working on and will also discuss some of the technological resources we were pointed to with colleagues. 8: On my own project and in the classroom. 9: Could be useful at the Papers of George Washington; they are additionally useful for a digital collection I have in mind for a project starting this summer involving c18 poetry with geographic references. 10: I intend to use this class to expand my fluency and comfort with digital archives (both functionality and presentation/interface). 11: To be able to communicate more fluently with my project's programmer and potentially address problems without their intervention, to build a foundation for future digital humanities courses. 12: I have two TEI projects in mind that I hope to begin shortly.

11)  If your made any trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?

1: Yes. Bradley Daigle (BD) at Digital Curation Services (DCS) was delightful. I'm not terribly interested in digitization equipment, but he made it interesting. Besides, it was a good Thursday afternoon thing to do. 2: Yes, the trip to UVA Special Collections was illuminating. 3: Yes. The visit to the digitization unit wasn't a high priority for me, but it was a nice break. 4: The field trip to DCS could not have been more interesting or relevant to my work! 5: Yes. 6: Yes: the tour of the digitization area was interesting. 7: Yes – we visited the digitization unit, which was fantastic. 8: Extremely well spent, yes! 9: Yes! The DCS in Special Collections was awesome (three PhaseOne cameras?!) 10: Yes, very nice to visit DCS and question/answer the professionals. 11: The trip to digitization services provided a good documentation of relevant techniques and much food for thought. 12: Trip to DCS was quite illuminating.

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

1: Yes. 2: Lecture on Chinese books was great. Booksellers' Night fine, and surely great for true book enthusiasts. 3: The lecture on Chinese printing was great. I would have been glad if he could have spoken longer. 4: I attended both and they were both superb. 5: Yes. 7: Yes. 8: I enjoyed the first lecture very much! 9: Yes! 10: I only attended the ones I felt were worth attending. 11: The two lectures were worth attending, though they frequently required more grounding in the subject material than I personally possess. 12: Lectures were of very high quality.

13)  We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching  collections and of materials owned by the 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?

4: We used digital materials only.

14)  Did you get your (or your institutions) money's worth? Would you recommend this course to others?

1: Yes and yes. 2: Certainly, ditto. 3: Yes. 4: Very much so, and I would recommend the course. 5: Yes—RBS is a treasure. 6: I think so—I would recommend it to someone who knows nothing or very little about XML. 7: Yes and yes. 8: Yes, yes. 9: Yes, I definitely will, in fact. 10: Yes; yes. 11: Yes. 12: Yes on both counts.

15)  Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year? (If you have further RBS praise or concerns, or if you have suggestions for a new course, please contact Amanda Nelsen [an2b@virginia.edu] or Michael Suarez [mfs3x@virginia.edu].)

4: Go for it. 6: Would like a follow-up class on TEI specifically. 7: This is a really great beginner course and I would definitely recommend it. 10: Please offer advanced XML next year—I want to return! 12: Do know that this is a course that considers primarily the acquisition of digital images and the practice of TEI markup. There are valuable considerations of project planning and management, as well. Questions of style sheets, &c. are not in the scope of this introductory course, however.

Number of respondents: 12





Institution gave me leave


9 (75%)


I took vacation time




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


2 (17%)


I am self-employed

Work has nothing to do with RBS course


1 (8%)




Institution paid tuition


9 (75%)


Institution paid tuition ___%


1 (8%)


I paid tuition myself




Exchange or barter




N/A: Self-employed, retired or scholarship

2 (17%)




Institution paid housing


8 (67%)


Institution paid for ___% of housing




I paid for my own housing


1 (8%)


N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home


3 (25%)





Institution paid travel


6 (50%)


Institution paid ___% of my travel




I paid my own travel


1 (8%)


N/A: lived nearby


5 (42%)





There were two museum/cultural institution employees (17%), two assistant college professors (17%), two librarian/archivists of digital materials (17%), one rare book librarian (8%), one full college professor (8%), one assistant LIS professor (8%), one librarian with no rare book duties (8%), one editor (8%), one intern (8%)


How did you hear about this course?


RBS Website

4 (33%)

Work Colleague

1 (8%)

Other :

2 (17%) – Code4 listserv, TEI listserve


Word of mouth

3 (25%)

RBS faculty or staff recommendation

2 (17%)





Where did you stay?

Brown College 5 (43%)

Budget Inn 1 (8%)

Courtyard Marriott 1 (8%)

Hampton Inn & Suites 2 (17%)

Other 2 (17%)

Did not specify: 2 (17%)