Mobilizing Metadata: Open Data Kit (ODK) for Language Resource Development in East Africa

author: Richard T. Griscom, Leiden University
published: May 20, 2020,   recorded: May 2020,   views: 26

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Linguistic fieldworkers collect and archive metadata as part of the language resources (LRs) that they create, but they often work inresource-constrained environments that prevent them from using computers for data entry. In such situations, linguists must completetime-consuming and error-prone digitization tasks that limit the quantity and quality of the resources and metadata that they produce(Thieberger & Berez 2012; Margetts & Margetts 2012). This paper describes a method for entering linguistic metadata into mobiledevices using the Open Data Kit (ODK) platform, a suite of open source tools designed for mobile data collection. The method wasincorporated into two community-based language documentation projects in Tanzania, involving twelve researchers simultaneouslycollecting data in four administrative regions (Griscom & Harvey 2019). Through the identification of project-specific datadependencies and redundancies, a number of efficiencies were built into the metadata entry system. These include the use of closedvocabularies, unique data entry forms for distinct data collector categories, and separate forms for entering participant and resourcemetadata. The resulting system serves as the basis for the ongoing development of general purpose bilingual English-Swahili metadataentry tools, to be made available for use by other researchers working in East Africa.

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