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Learning object summary

These slides consist of a brief lesson that introduce students to workflows as models, describes process modeling, an in-class “sticky note” exercise, discussion questions, and real-world examples of born-digital processing workflows.


Cal Lee



  • Introduction to workflows
  • Process modeling
  • Workflow modeling activity
  • Discussion questions
  • Real world workflow examples

Learning object type

Lesson plan/materials

Learning objectives

This learning object might be used in a lesson to satisfy the following learning objectives:

  • Design a born-digital archiving workflow.


Prerequisite knowledge required: Some knowledge of digital preservation concepts (including OAIS) is helpful

Delivery mode:

  • Virtual, synchronous
  • In-person

Set-up needs

Estimated set-up time: 10 minutes

Hardware requirements: N/A

Software installations: N/A

Sample data: N/A

System settings: N/A

Other: This exercise can be implemented in a face-to-face setting with sticky notes, but you can also implement it in a remote setting using breakout rooms and shared whiteboard spaces such as Jamboard, Miro, Sketchboard or MURAL. If this exercise is administered in person, each group should be given a stack of at least 50 sticky notes and writing implements.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Workflow modeling sticky notes exercise

Your institution is ready to begin modeling workflows for some of the activities that will be encountered frequently at its repository. The leadership has generated a list of five processes to be represented in workflow models. These workflow processes are discrete, identifiable, countable, and essential to your mission. You have been tasked with bringing drafts of each workflow to the next meeting of the repository Steering Committee.

Processes to Represent in your Workflow Models

  1. Generate Archival Information Package (AIP) – “transforms one or more SIPs into one or more AIPs that conform to the archive’s data formatting and documentation standards” (OAIS)
  2. Negotiate Submission Agreement – “solicits desirable archival information” for the archive, “negotiates Submission Agreements with Producers” and “negotiates a data submission schedule with the Producer” (OAIS)
  3. Develop Preservation Strategies and Standards – “developing and recommending strategies and standards to enable the archive to better anticipate future changes in the Designated Community service requirements or technology trends that would require migration of some current archive holdings or new submissions” (OAIS)
  4. Monitor Designated Community – “interacts with archive Consumers and Producers to track changes in their service requirements and available product technologies” (OAIS)
  5. Detach Digital Objects – separating data and metadata from physical medium without violating their integrity in the process


  1. Identify 5 to 10 sub-processes that are directly related to your process.
  2. Write each sub-process on a sticky note
  3. Arrange the sticky notes into a workflow, using arrows to connect them
  4. When possible, label the arrows to clarify how the sub-processes are linked

Discussion questions

  1. How did you decide what to label your sticky notes?
  2. How did you decide how they should be arranged?
  3. What was the hardest part of the process?
  4. How did group products differ? Why?

Sharp, Alec, and Patrick McDermott. Workflow Modeling: Tools for Process Improvement and Applications Development. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Artech House, 2009. p.40-41.

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