When tradition meets technology: Curating digital collections to enhance learning of traditional knowledge
Abstract: An essential prerequisite for ethnocultural and diaspora communities to preserve their traditional knowledge is the willful acceptance and learning of these traditions by successive generations. Thus transmission of traditional knowledge is of utmost importance for such communities living in the West. While community elders may feel duty-bound to pass on their knowledge using traditional face-to-face approach, community youth often perceive this approach as old-fashioned and inefficient. The in-person transmission of traditions and knowledge is also constrained by time and geography, thus making it even more challenging for learners to remain motivated and engaged. Today’s digital age presents opportunities for communities with rich heritage to teach and learn traditional knowledge, especially oral traditions, in ways not possible in the past. This paper is based on a community-based collaborative research project undertaken at the University of Saskatchewan Library in Canada to develop and implement a framework to digitally curate collections to enhance learning of the tradition of ginans (gnostic and devotional hymns) of the Ismaili community. Whether in universities or communities, educators and elders must ensure that they continue to meet the unique and changing needs of learners and keep them motivated and engaged. This paper will showcase how digital curation is purposefully utilized to enhance and support the learning of traditional knowledge.