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Projects : Electronic Encyclopedia of Earthquakes (E3)

Scope of E3

Like a traditional printed encyclopedia, E3 is an entry-based collection, comprising a set of primary topics with cross-referenced explanations and sets of information. The root meaning of encyclopedia as a circle of knowledge also applies, because the expanse of topics will cover the earthquake subject in a way that is both multidisciplinary and integrated. The integration spans four basic fields of knowledge that correspond to common curricular categories-geoscience, engineering, physics, and mathematics-as well as selected topics related to the impacts of earthquakes on human systems. At the same time, E3 differs from a traditional encyclopedia in many essential respects. A user will be able to access knowledge on a simple level quickly or probe deeper for more detailed information. Content will be available in animated and narrated (video or audio) formats, as well as in text and illustrations, and it will be dynamic-updated and constantly changing as new information is collected. Most important, the inquiry process will be interactive between the user and the collection, allowing the learner to discover many different pathways through the subject matter or even to create new knowledge through the manipulation and synthesis of different types of information.

E3 will feature knowledge and inquiry related to earthquakes in the areas of geoscience, engineering, physics and mathematics. This digital-library collection will be organized as several hundred primary entries, which will range from basic concepts to advanced methods in geoscience and engineering, including research methods. Supplements to these entries will be furnished in the form of archived and/or real-time data sets, maps and other images, catalogued resources available via the internet, and links to teaching materials. The goal is to provide clearly organized, dynamic information that allows the learner to discover many different paths through the subject matter. E3 will allow people of all ages and professions to learn not only about earthquakes and seismic safety, but also about basic topics that span the range of natural sciences, mathematics, engineering, and technology. The fact that the subject of earthquakes brings together knowledge from so many disciplines makes E3 an attractive gateway to problem-oriented learning.

While a collection of this size will be comprehensive, we seek to ensure that the content will also meet high standards of accuracy. Of course, no collection can be ideal, so we have attempted to formulate a project plan that will allow us to address the tradeoffs of accessibility versus accuracy, and quantity versus quality. A key aspect of this plan is the layering of information described on the "how to use the encyclopedia" page. The quantity of information provided will be consistent at the primary (glossary-definition) level, but, as users delve into the secondary and tertiary layers, the collection will become more heterogeneous, and the quantity will vary, based upon the availability of high-quality technical content.

As part of our responsibility as a collaborating partner with DLESE, we will base E3 on the DLESE collections policy and statement of scope. Though the subject matter of DLESE is considerably broader than that of E3 (Earth system vs. earthquakes), the guidelines for resource types and the emphasis on interdisciplinary areas will effectively be the same. E3 will favor materials that bring the Earth into the classroom or other learning sites and connect the general with the specific, theory with evidence, and the global with the local. We will also favor materials that are well-documented, easy to use, motivational for learners, pedagogically effective, scientifically accurate, and which foster mastery of significant understandings or skills. We have built the DLESE categorization of grade level and type of learning activity into the pilot version of E3, in order to be consistent with, and to facilitate, higher levels of digital library cataloging.

Other criteria for limiting the scope of our collection pertain to resource access. We will conform to DLESE standards regarding three types of access issues:

    Technical Requirements: Resources will be digital, such that they are viewable, usable, or downloadable with available WWW technology; i.e., browsers, plug-ins, scripting languages, applets. If a resource depends on technology beyond a standard browser, a description of the technical requirements must be provided in the catalog record.

    Language: Resources will be primarily in English. If a resource is also available in other languages, these languages will be noted in the catalog record. All catalog records and library interfaces will be in English.

    Copyright: The collection will be dominated by resources that (a) are available for personal or educational use, without restrictions, and for free or at low cost, and (b) can be indexed and distributed by DLESE without restrictions.

Content and features that will comprise E3 entries or be provided as annotated links include:

    Data, and tools to analyze or manipulate the data, such as the comprehensive data sets developed and maintained by SCEC and IRIS.

    Text from scientific papers, summaries, indices and abstracts, including those produced by all three organizations and their affiliated institutions.

    Images, including private collections of CUREE and investigators associated with SCEC and IRIS; models and simulations, such as those constructed by SCEC's Strong Motion Group and the Southern California Integrated GPS Network.

    Animations and videos, lesson plans and curricula; learning activities; educational multimedia, such as those created by SCEC and NASA/JPL for community colleges and accelerated high schools (Investigating Earthquakes through Regional Seismicity and Exploring the Use of Space Technology in Earthquake Studies).

    Field trips, including downloadable maps and guides for "real" trips as well as on-line "virtual" trips.

    Student research projects, such as those collected by SCEC and IRIS as products of their summer internships programs.

    Brief video introductions by national experts in various earthquake-related fields will be included on selected synopsis pages as an additional overview.

Background and Purpose
Scope of E3
Participating Organizations
Project Organization and Management
Collection Development and Review Process
Preview E3 Website
Funded by:
NSF Logo
The National Science Foundation

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Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering
last updated 11.15.04