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Hedden Information Management

American Society for Indexing (ASI)

Online Learning Short Course: Practical Taxonomy Creation

Three one-hour recorded webinar sessions, with handouts, available for unlimited on-demand viewings.

Course Description and Outline
Course Basics and Registration
Course Advantages
American Society for Indexing site (external link)


Course Description

“Practical Taxonomy Creation” is an all-new 3-part Online Learning Short Course sponsored by the American Society for Indexing and created by Heather Hedden in 2015. It has a new instructional approach instructional approach from previously offered online and conference workshops that combines theory and practice. “Practical Taxonomy Creation” was originally taught as a live webinar in three weekly sessions in January 2015, but is now available for purchase as a set of three video recordings (PowerPoint presentations and software demos) with handouts, for unlimited repeat viewings. Each video recording lasts one hour.

“Practical Taxonomy Creation” is aimed at beginners or others seeking practical training. Whether you are new to taxonomies or are familiar with taxonomies in theory but have minimal experience, this course is for you.

Course Outline

Session 1. Taxonomy types for different applications

In the first session we look at the different definitions and types of controlled vocabularies, taxonomies, and thesauri, and also look at various real-life examples of each. We then examine in more detail what features distinguish the different kinds of controlled vocabularies, such as their hierarchical relationships and hierarchical structure, associative relationships, and nonpreferred terms. Turning away from theoretical definitions, we consider what kinds and what features are most appropriate for different situations or applications: hierarchical taxonomy, faceted taxonomy, combination hierarchical and faceted, hierarchical taxonomy with additional associative relationships (related terms), standard thesaurus, and simple controlled vocabularies or authority files with nonpreferred terms. We also learn best practices for creating relationships between terms.

Session 2. Gathering terms for a taxonomy

One of the practical challenges in creating a new taxonomy from scratch is simply coming up with the terms. This session starts out with the explanations of what is a concept vs a term and discuss variant names for terms, also called nonpreferred terms. Moving on to practical matters, this session discusses the sources for terms, such as interviewing stakeholders or knowledge workers, gathering data from search logs, analyzing the various types of content in a collection, etc. Then we look at screenshots of collected and organized terms in Excel spreadsheets to see how to list and organized the gathered terms.

Session 3. Thesaurus management software use

After a brief overview of the types of software available, I would focus on the use of one tool, MultiTes Pro, which is the most accessible and affordable for the individual/freelancer. Tasks explained include entering single terms, adding batches of terms, adding term relationships, editing terms, setting up customized categories and relationships, adding notes, and generating various reports and output files. Participants are welcome to utilize free 30-day trials of various thesaurus management software described in the webinar to try out the tasks on their own after watching the webinar.

Slides on additional information and resources about taxonomies are also included.


Course Basics and Registration

Sessions: The short course comprises three one-hour webinar sessions, which are PowerPoint presentation-based. Included in the third session are also recorded taxonomy software demos. Information is provided on software for which there are free 30-day trials to try out before or after watching/listening to the webinar.

Fees: $299 ($249 for members of American Society for Indexing)

Registration: Online credit card registration is available through the website of the American Society for Indexing


Course Advantages

Less of a commitment than a typical online course

I also teach a 5-lesson online course, which requires a participant commitment of about 4-5 hours per lesson on average, including preparing and submitting assignments. The files for that online course are available for up to two months, but for some participants that may not be enough time.

The ASI Online Learning short course, on the other hand, does not require a time commitment beyond the three hours. More significantly, the sessions are recorded so they can be listened to and viewed immediately and repeatedly at any time with no expiration date. Participants can register any time, and there is no need to make a significant advance time commitment in both scheduling and total time.

More in-depth and practical than a one-hour webinar

One-hour webinars are a good introduction to topics, but do not provide enough time to get into details, which are needed for a subject as involved as taxonomies. I have given webinars before through various organizations but always on very specific topics and never on the overall basics of how to create a taxonomy, as this would be impossible to do in only one hour. I have also given many conference presentations of various lengths, but a general introduction to taxonomies has required presentation of a minimum and hour and half and preferably at least a half-day workshop.

The ASI Online Learning short course is set up as three one-hour sessions, so instead of learning just “about” taxonomies, as a single one-hour session would be, participants can actually learn how to create taxonomies, following best practice techniques and using software tools.

More accessible than a conference workshop

From time to time, I give full-day (7-hour) or half-day (3-hour) conference workshops. While it’s great to be in the same room as the participants, it is certainly not easy for many interested professionals to travel to a conference site.

The ASI Online Learning 3-part webinar series provides as much instructional time as a half-day workshop but in a more convenient format. The fact that the sessions are recorded allows registrants to listen and watch whenever it is convenient for them and repeatedly. The webinar format also enables participants to easily see small details on their own computer monitors. I take advantage of this by showing more screenshots from thesaurus management software and explain the details that would not easily be seen on a distant screen in a conference room.

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