Machines produce and operate using complex systems of metadata that need to be catalogued, sorted, and processed. Many students lack the experience with metadata and sufficient knowledge about it to understand it as part of their data literacy skills. This paper describes an educational and interactive database activity designed for teaching undergraduate communication students about the creation, value, and logic of structured data. Through a set of virtual instructional videos and interactive visualizations, the paper describes how students can gain experience with structured data and apply that knowledge to successfully find, curate, and classify a digital archive of media artifacts. The pedagogical activity, teaching materials, and archives are facilitated through and housed in an online resource called Fabric of Digital Life (fabricofdigitallife.com). We end by discussing the activity’s relevance for the emerging field of human-machine communication.



Author ORCID Identifier

Andrew Iliadis: 0000-0002-8345-6251

Tony Liao: 0000-0003-1889-3831

Isabel Pedersen: 0000-0002-9317-0812

Jing Han: 0000-0003-3251-6549