Printed reference works, operating manuals and textbooks for professional education and practice are rapidly giving way to globally accessible, searchable digital collections of text, video, and graphics. Further, innovations such as recommendation engines, automated adaptive learning, and, in particular online communities and user-generated content enable a variety of new services. “Smart” digital collections and communities already play a major role in education, decision support and knowledge management.
Examples of smart, large scale digital collections with play a role in education and decision support include well know services like YouTube, Khan Academy, and Wikipedia. There are also an innumerable smaller professional and occupational collections and related communities such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Stanford’s Digital Object Registry, and WGBH’s Open Vault Media Library and Archive. These collections and communities are both open access and controlled access, and they vary widely in terms of currency, the roles of editors/curators in controlling what becomes part of the collection, and the roles of online community managers or programmers.
Online communities and services built on curated digital collections are disrupting higher education, continuing education, and the publishing industry that serves occupational and professional markets. Start here to read three July 16, 2014 posts that address these issues in more depth.