INLS 740: Environmental Scanning
A digital library project is a large undertaking, into which figures a wide range of technologies and processes. These technologies and processes are constantly changing, as research and development progresses. It is a challenge to get up to speed on all of these technologies and processes in the first place: I could argue that that is the purpose of this course. It is equally a challenge to keep up to date with all of the changes to these technologies and processes. This assignment will distribute the task of keeping up to date.
For this assignment, you will conduct continuous environmental scanning in the broad arena of DLs, with the goal of informing your and your classmates' work on your DL projects. Throughout the semester, you should monitor a range of sources of information relevant to your project: check websites, blogs, and news announcements; monitor user and developer forums; subscribe to listservs, RSS feeds, and Twitter accounts; etc. I would also encourage you to actively participate in any venues to which users may contribute: pose questions on user forums, have conversations with organizations on Twitter, etc. Then digest this information and provide the class with brief posts about new developments.
These posts must be written individually. Every student must make at least one post to the course site per 2 weeks, except the first and last weeks of the semester. More would be fine, of course, if there is especially interesting news to report. Since you presumably have no way to control what is in the news in the DL world, you may post at any time during the week. Give your post the category Environmental Scan.
Two good examples of environmental scans in a library context are the Pattern Recognition report by OCLC, and the Transformational Times report by ARL. Your environmental scans should not be this formalized, or this long. But these reports provide good examples of the methodology used in environmental scanning.