a SOCRATES Thematic Network Project
The University of Bergen, Faculty of Arts
Prof. Koenraad de Smedt, Section for Linguistic Studies
A. Summary of the project
B. Purpose, objectives and expected outcomes
C. Project approach
D. Project organization
E. Other issues
F. Financial aspects
The recently started `cognitive revolution' has transformed the way we look at the human mind and its products, and stimulated the use of computers as sophisticated modelling tools in the Humanities; examples are models for logical reasoning and language understanding. At the same time, new techniques and standards for the encoding of textual and pictorial information (such as the standards from the Text Encoding Initiative) are playing an enabling role in the storage and communication of our cultural resources. Advanced computing, a.o. in the field of multimedia, is currently making it possible for Humanities scholars to mine international knowledge banks, archives, libraries, and museums. In addition, the greatly enhanced accessibility of remote information through telematics and Web-based services on the Internet are bringing a vast range of Humanities-related resources within reach.
The potential of these technological advances has not been exploited in European higher education. In discussions with leading European departments in the Humanities field, it has been recognized that a link between the rapidly changing use of information technology scholarship and its incorporation in Humanities teaching curricula is almost non-existent. Where computing is offered to Humanities students, it is generally limited to basic word processing. Of approximately 6000 faculties teaching Humanities in the EEA, probably less than 5% currently offer courses that incorporate advanced computing in their curriculum. A recent survey at Copenhagen University showed that 80% of the Humanities students had never even used any database on research literature at the libraries.
The ACO*HUM network project is an initiative aimed at innovating both the content and the process of teaching in the Humanities through the incorporation of advanced computing. Proposals for curriculum development and the sharing of experiences in its implementation will make a significant contribution throughout the life cycle of this network project.
The wide consensus is that Europe is not sufficiently innovative with regard to higher education and training in the new fields of application addressed by advanced computing in the Humanities. It is a paradox that Humanities graduates rarely find jobs which fully exploit their qualifications, while at the same time there is a market shortage of candidates with qualifications joining a Humanities education with the advanced use of computers. Some subfields within the Humanities incorporating new computing approaches have developed a larger degree of networking than others which operate in isolated organizational settings and within the boundaries of their traditional disciplines.
From an organizational viewpoint, the educational, linguistic and cultural differences in Europe require networking solutions which are widely different from existing American networks. The Humanities share common cultural roots but differ in how they have been accepted and integrated with local academic, professional, cultural and socio-economic environments. These unique profiles constitute a specific asset in Europe for shaping new competence. The diversity in cultural settings in Europe, affecting not only administative systems but also terminology and conceptualizations, constitute a formidable barrier against a generalized mobility and accessibility of information across national boundaries. This very diversity can be exploited as a strategic cultural and market asset only if collaborative Europe-wide structures are built to facilitate the integration, transfer and assimilation of best practice in future higher education curricula.
The ACO*HUM network will initiate the development of new undergraduate modules in advanced computing in the Humanities, and establish a dissemination strategy aimed at educating Humanities students across Europe in the integration of computing technology with Humanities. At the same time the ACO*HUM network intends to build a bridge accross the traditional disciplines of the Humanities and the expanding field of computer-mediated communication and culture, where an increasing amount of activity and creation takes place outside universities.
The problems addressed by the network fall within the scope of issues that get specialattention from the European Commission. We name especially the Commission's attention for the Multilingual Information Society (cf. COM 95/0263 CNS) and the preservation of the cultural diversity in Europe.
- The identification of new common learning modules which would be helpful in the development of cross-disciplinary European Humanities undergraduate and taught Masters courses with a broad agreement on advanced computing content, means of delivery and learning, and potential uses.
- The identification of new discipline-specific (or sub-discipline-specific) learning modules which would be helpful in the development of individual trans-European Humanities Masters courses targeted at advanced computing in specific disciplines.
The secondary target audiences consist of (a) university departments with Humanities where traditional activities are challenged by information technology, and (b) employers that rely on the knowledge and skills in advanced computing in the Humanities.
University departments will benefit from the pooling of teaching experiences in advanced computing in several Humanities-related fields across Europe, thereby making teaching efforts more efficient and stimulating recruitment of good students.
Industry will benefit from new knowledge and skills becoming available in employees. These competences are essential to the new information industries which require the combination of traditional humanistic background with a mastery of advanced computing methods.
- jobs requiring the crucial integration of advanced computing methods into Humanities-related professions (e.g. multimedia edutainment, translation technologies, electronic publishing);
- jobs where the knowledge and skills of Humanities professionials is valued as an important additon to traditional technology (e.g. human-computer interfaces, software localization, car industry);
- jobs in traditional Humanities-related professions which are faced with large scale telematics innovation (e.g. libraries, museums, publishing industries).
To ensure the feasibility of the project and modularize its activities, the following four pilot areas within the Humanities have been selected as initial focal points. In later phases, the work will be extended to other humanities disciplines, such as music, philosophy, and religion and biblical studies. The four areas are the following:
The currently planned actions of the network project are aimed at long term curriculum development within computational linguistics and language engineering. This goal will be approached by capitalizing on the above-mentioned earlier work and transferring its results to teaching and learning processes. This will be achieved a.o. through co-operation with existing associations, and by reuse of the communication structures and scholarship resources which resulted from previous initiatives. Special attention will be paid to the following issues.
Development of computer-based teaching materials.
Due to rapidly evolving technologies, textbooks in computational linguistics and language technology quickly become outdated. Moreover, teaching these subjects in each different country has become entrenched in local scientific approaches, partly due to local culture and disciplinary embedding, partly due to local technological environment. Besides textbooks, computer linguists require hands-on training with computational tools and resources which are too expensive to develop for individual universities. The sharing of these tools and resources among different institutions, and their integration with other teaching materials in specific learning modules will therefore be promoted by the ACO*HUM project.
Common curriculum and degree development.
The development of learning modules will be embedded in a plan to stimulate the development of common European curricula and degrees in computational linguistics. This aim for harmonization in a European context will promote mobility in education as well as in the labour market, and is especially targeted at equipping the undergraduate student with the necessary basic competence to profit from Europe-wide possibilities for further specialization, postgraduate training and participation in European trans-national scholarship projects.
In order to achieve these aims, the network will establish a multinational team with appropriate communication channels and the allocation of scientific, technical and administrative resources. Cooperation with other international bodies in computational linguistics for these purposes is being established.
Early users of Computing in the Humanities included classical and biblical philology; however, the tools developed inside this area have not always become known in the wider field of Humanities. The same can be said of the innovative scientific and technological approaches used in compiling text-critical editions of large collections of literary, religious and philosophical works that constitute fundamental items of Europe's cultural heritage. Still, the various active players in this field have gravitated towards local standards and toolsets thanks to international efforts in this area, notably including the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) which has received joint European and US funding. Efforts in this field were also partly responsible for paving the way for the WWW. Today the field of textual scholarchip and repositories has important commercial outlets within the field of document processing and archive management.
The ACO*HUM network aims to further this collaborative effort in close contact with projects such as the TEI and international bodies such as the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing (ALLC) through the transfer of the scholarship results in this field to undergraduate curricula. Dissemination of know-how and access to computer tools and archives will be promoted within selected Humanities disciplines including literature, linguistics, philosophy, religion and cultural studies.
The ACO*HUM network will promote the innovation of curricula in the history of art and the aesthetic disciplines, aimed at the following goals:
- integration of new advanced computer skills (e.g. visual analysis, massive pictorial database management, 3-D modelling of sculptures) in traditional undergraduate and graduate curricula;
- integration of distance education (especially aimed at distance consultation of digitized art collections) into traditional undergraduate and graduate curricula.
Through the sharing of teaching experiences and know-how, the ACO*HUM network will make it easier for the participating universities to establish and develop historical informatics as a teaching subject. Consultations with experts in the field reveal a widespread wish to achieve this goal by the following actions:
- to create a catalogue of digital sources suited for comparative studies of European regions;
- to create and disseminate a bibliography of historical informatics;
- to make computational tools and digital sources remotely accessible for undergraduate students, thus allowing more students to gain experience with advanced computing;
- to develop a general curriculum in historical informatics gaining wide acceptance across Europe;
- to initiate a training programme for university teachers to incorporate historical informatics in their general didactic practice;
- to experiment in international, cooperative teaching (including distance teaching) across institutions and countries;
- to take steps toward a European Masters Degree in historical informatics based on the above mentioned building blocks.
Electronic mail via the Internet will be the preferential means of bilateral communication between the partners. The possibility of using remote conferencing, especially ISDN videoconferencing, will be expoited, particularly because the coordinating institution already has the facilities available.
Reference to telematics tools to be used in Humanities scholarship will be systematized. Assessment of new possibilities offered by modern information highways (ATM networks and ADSL technology) will be included in the general discussion of Open Distance Learning (ODL) modules in curricula. Synergy with the EURO-ISDN/VIRTUE project (DG XIII) will be investigated in cooperation with UNIVISJON AS and ODL-partners. Since the University of Bergen is also a site in the EU-funded HUMANITIES II project and coordinating the SOCRATES ODL project TRANSCULT, possible synergies with these will be sought.
To reach these goals and exploit already existing involvement in European projects, the ACO*HUM network will seek active collaboration with other SOCRATES ODL projects, primarily the HUMANITIES projects and the THETA/DUNE networks, as well as the EURO-ISDN/VIRTUE project (DG XIII). The ACO*HUM network will submit a proposal to the steering committee of HUMANITIES II to develop a joint thematic study group in advanced computing in the humanities within the HUMANITIES setting in 1997-1998.
OCT 96 Coordination. The central network coordination office is established at the University of Bergen.
OCT 96 - DEC 97 Establishment of management structure and committees.
OCT 96 - FEB 97 Area Committees, made up of experts in the different pilot areas, convene to discuss an agenda for activities in each area.
OCT 96 - MAR 97 Confirmation of participation by the partners and gathering of factual data on the partners and their contact persons.
DEC 96 Steering Committee meeting convenes to determine the overall strategy of the TNP.
DEC 96 Presentation of the TNP at the EAIE conference in Budapest.
JAN 97 - APR 97 Agenda of resources, place, people and programs. The area committees, supported by the coordination office, will make an inventory of actors and activities in advanced computing in the Humanities, with the aim to prepare the next phases of the project. This inventory, to which all partners contribute, will gather preliminary data on (1) existing curricula, projects and plans (2) human and computer resources (3) links with professional organizations, industry and regional authorities.
MAR 97 Drafting of first half-year to the EC and renewal application, due April 1.
APR 97 - AUG 97 Country profiles project. A profile will be made detailing the situation of advanced computing in the Humanities in each country, with special attention for national initatives and cultural and educational differences.
APR - JUN 97 Initial contacts with coordinators of other TNPs and and other actors to prepare joint actions, including ODL.
MAY 97 Steering Committee meeting in Bergen. Beginning of the preparation of an international conference.
JUL 97: Presentation of ACO*HUM at the ALLC-ACH conference at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario (Area Committee on Textual Scholarship and Edition Philology).
JUL 97 Presentation of the TNP at the ACL/EACL conference in Madrid (Area Committee on Computational Linguistics and Language Technology, in cooperation with the TNP on Speech Communication Sciences and ELSNET).
OCT 97 First tentative common ground document, an intention agreement between all Core Group partners (and possibly other partners) will be signed. This document will form the basis of a final agreement to be reached by the end of the funding period of the network.
OCT or NOV 97 Joint management meeting: Steering Committee meeting and Area Committee meetings, with plenary session.
JAN 98 Workshop on ODL, where ODL-partners together with subarea experts work out recommendations for integration of ODL in the network activities.
FEB 98 Assessment and comparison survey by independent consultants.
MAR 98 Drafting of half-year report and renewal application to the EC, due April 1.
MAY 98 International conference The Future of Humanities Education. Steering Committee meeting.
FEB - MAR 98 Preparation of extension to other humanities disciplines including archaeology, religion and biblical studies, music, and philosophy.
OCT 98 Agreement on European Masters degrees.
OCT 98 - DEC 98. Draft of final recommendation worked out by the Core Group. Includes transfer to other humanities disciplines.
NOV 97 Steering Committee and Area Committee meetings.
JAN - MAR 99 Enquiry. Associate and Observer group reactions and commentaries to the final recommendation.
MAR 99 Evaluation meeting. Steering Committee, Area Coordinators and evaluators discuss the evaluation report.
MAR - MAY 99. Extension and signing of the formal agreement. Partners are asked to join the final recommendations through formal commitments.
- The Network Coordinator (40 days per year) is a senior academic responsible for the overall network strategy and the budget. The Network Coordinator is the formal representative of the network and the main responsible towards the EC. The Network Coordinator will chair the steering committee. The appointed Network Coordinator is Prof. Dr. Koenraad de Smedt.
- The Network Administrator (half time) is responsible for carrying out the implementation of the network workplan. The Network Administrator will form a liaison between the network parners, will coordinate technical support, and will set up internal and external communication channels. The Network Administrator will prepare the reports and deliverables. The Network Administrator will attend and report to the meetings of the Steering Committee.
- Four Area Coordinators (20 days per year each) will form the liaison between the pilot areas and the project office, thus providing permanent reference points for the operation of these areas. The Area Coordinators will invite a small number of representatives from the participating institutions to form Area Committees which will draft and carry out area-specific operations.
From the partners, four senior advisors will be elected. These advisors will form the membership of the Steering Committee, together with the Network Coordinator (Prof. De Smedt), who is chairman. The Network Administrator will attend and report to the meetings of the Steering Committee. The committee will convene twice a year to determine strategic and budgetary matters.
Each partner in the network will have a local coordinator nominated by the partner to coordinate participation in the network's activities.
The network is structured in such a way as to make it manageable, to allow for different levels of participation, and to have optimal impact. Each partner has chosen to contribute in either group A, B or C to which different workloads are assigned in order to assist in the development of new programmes at groups A and B while increasing awareness amongst group C.
Some ineligible organizations which have expressed an interest in contributing are welcome even though they cannot receive funds.
Not only the coordinating institution, but many participating institutions in the present network have strong participation in other projects. All participating universities have previously participated in the ERASMUS programme, most of them extensively, and most also have experience in coordinating ICPs. It has not been possible to systematize all participation in other EU programmes by the present TNP partners, but as examples among relevant EU-sponsored projects where some partners are involved, we name the following: POINTER, TRANSLATOR'S WORKBENCH, MULTILEX, AQUILEX-I & II, IDEAL, EUROTRA, VALUE, ET-7, TEI, DCI, SURVEY OF LINGUISTIC RESOURCES OF NLP, EUREKA, GENELEX, EUROLONG, LRE DELIS, ONOMASTICA, RENOIS, EAGLES, COLSIT, LS-GRAM, MLAP, PAROLE, and MEMORIA.
Given the extensive body of expertise gathered in the ACO*HUM network, the project will stimulate the partners to identify which aspects of advanced scholarship can be transferred to educational programs though the current network, and will, as a sideeffect, also stimulate further cooperation among the partners.
The European Association for International Education (EAIE) is a member of the network with its Committee on Electronic Networks and Information Sharing (ENIS). ENIS will address EAIE members and use this project to enhance the members' awareness of computer technology for professional networking and to illustrate thematic networking in SOCRATES. A presentation of the network will be offered to the EAIE annual conference in Budapest in December 1996.
SCIENTER Bologna will carry impact assessment studies.
It is anticipated that a number of further research needs in relation to ACO*HUM will be identified by its participants. It is therefore proposed to use consultants with experience of EU R&D, education and training programmes, to undertake the following during the second year:
- a short assessment (by structured questionnaire to each of the partners) of the extent of the network use and of further research needs relating to the network project;
- a comparison of the identified innovation needs for further research and training with the EC's R&D programmes in the current/next Frameworks, in Structured Funds (ESF, ADAPT, etc.) and in other programme content and priorities, which will support recommendations on how best to pursue the identified research and other innovations required through these EC programmes, as well as highlight needs identified but not met in the programmes.
Project Coordinator, 40 days x 150 ECU 6.000
Project Administrator, 1 year half time 20.000
Area Coordinators 4 x 20 days x 150 ECU 12.000
TOTAL personnel coordinating institution 38.000
B. Personnel partner institutions (mostly teaching staff)
A-institutions: 27 x 30 days x 150 ECU 121.500
B-institutions: 47 x 10 days x 150 ECU 70.500
C-institutions: 29 x 5 days x 150 ECU 21.750
TOTAL personnel partner institutions 213.750
Meetings of area committees 4 x 6 x 800 19.200
Steering committee meetings 2 x 6 x 800 9.600
Other meetings and attendance of international events 5 x 800 4.000
Total travels, accommodation, subsistence 32.800
D. Technology 5.000
E. General administration, communication 1000
F. Consultancy 0
G. Production of materials 0
H. Dissemination, translation, printing 5.000
SOCRATES grant 45.000
The coordinator contributes most of the personnel costs involved in the coordinating efforts (38.000). Likewise, the partners carry their own personnel costs (213.750).
Other external sources of financing are currently not available. An expansion to other activities is considered, including NORFA/NORPLUS funds and further EU education and training funds. A supporting action of the project in the form of a complementary measure under SOCRATES has been submitted.