Comments on theTEL Dictionary and general comments on the School

The session: In this final session of the Spring School, Nicolas Balacheff  presented the TEL Dictionary initiative. Nicolas elaborated the challenges TEL addressed and outlined the steps it has now taken.  In the first step,  key words were solicited from appropriate experts for the TEL open archive. In the second step the keywords were sorted and managed. Within this context, Nicola overviewed the relevant architecture, including the TEL thesaurus and dictionary, the editorial board, advisory board and community groups, and the process of collecting, organising and defining the content. Nicolas described the result as a “near ontology”. The session concluded with a participative exercise in which delegates were asked to pick from a list of TEL keywords those which were most important to them and to suggest additions to the list. This exercise illustrated the difficulty of constructing the TEL dictionary and thesaurus and stimulated discussion of the causes of these difficulties.
Comment:  This was a good session with which to conclude the Spring School, after a long day. The speaker was authoritative and engaged well with the audience. The presentation content was philosophical, rather that technology, and addressed an issue which is core to semantic technologies. It was excellent to have wide audience participation and engagement. Perhaps these qualities made concentration easier while fighting off “conference fatigue”.
General comments on the Spring School: The School was generally excellent. Session had good focus and the inclusion of hands-on exercises kept the audience engaged and awake, and, more importantly, made concrete and tangible the ideas and concepts presented. Some areas  where there is scope for improvement are: the venue – the conference rooms are excellent for conventional conference presentation and discussion, but not well suited for the hands-on exercises and particularly unsuited for group exercises; audience engagement – it would have been useful to have some documentation, e.g, abstracts and/or presentation slides, preferably in advance and online, rather than having to follow the presentation narrative in real-time; hands-on exercises and demonstrations – there were problems with technology during demonstrations and delegates were not always given the documentation (paper or online) to inform the hands-on exercises. Consequently, there was little scope for delegates to individually self-pace their progression through the exercises. The organisation of sessions and presentations was excellent, with clear foci, and usually good progression within each session from theory to practice. Also, the School was liberally dispersed with breaks for lunch, coffee or a “stretch”.