eBot: a collaborative learning object repository for Australian flora

Rosanne Quinnell, Murray Henwood, Su Hanfling, Rowan Brownlee

Abstract


The University of Sydney eBot project was designed as a collaborative, sustainable repository for digital botanical objects. From its inception the repository was viewed as an effective way to bring together the collections of images and resources that we use in research and to support learning and teaching of undergraduate Plant Sciences at The University of Sydney.

Objects contained within the repository range from the microscopic to entire landscapes. They include digitised herbarium specimens and associated temporal and spatial data. The metadata supporting the system enable effective archiving and retrieval of objects and is informed by international developments in botanical digital standards. The strength of this repository is that part of the metadata maps to the currently accepted taxonomy for the green plants. The eBot schema was derived from a range of descriptive standards, including the Herbarium Information Standards and Protocols for Interchange of Data (HISPID). This will ensure compatibility with digital herbaria in Australia. In addition to describing the scientific content of objects, the project addresses access and sustainability issues by including rights management data and information about the technical attributes of each object. To ensure the integrity of database content, all objects are validated by an expert reviewer prior to the images going ‘live’. eBot will be accessible later in 2008. Our view is that the project has potential to be used beyond the Plant Sciences and outside the university environment.

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