“The sheer volume of digital information that is available makes it increasingly challenging to find the information you are interested in. Curation in a digital world isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.”
As I embark on a new self-directed course called, Social Media in Education at the University of Ontario, Institute for Technology (UOIT), I am set with the task of finding a curation tool to keep track of the various resources I accumulate over the next couple of months. Because of the content of the course, I am thinking that the curation tool I select, should be public and shareable.
What is curation?
I really like Sylvia Tolisano’s definition of curation:
“…the ability to find, to filter, to evaluate, to annotate, to choose which sources are valuable.” (Valenza, et al. 2014)
Stephen Daly, in his article, Content Curation: The Future of Relevance, reminds us that when we think of curation we think of a museum curator who keeps abreast of trends, listens to what guests are discussing and finds resources that resonate well with those areas. He states that you no longer need to have studied curation : “social media sharing has enabled anyone to share anything with the world.” (Daly. 2014, pg 1)
Content Curation Tools
The following are a few content curation tools which I either like or want to explore and what I know about them so far:
Storify (13+) allows me to draw content from a Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Google Plus feed or from Google in order to create a digital story with annotations. It’s also very intuitive; I use it regularly to consolidate learning like here and to summarize events.
Diigo allows me to individually or collaboratively bookmark and annotate links, pages, notes, and media. I have been able to add tags to make my bookmarks searchable as well as add highlight, sticky notes, or screenshots to my libraries (Valenza, pg 63). The Chrome extension is extremely useful. I don’t believe there is an age restriction, but you need to sign up with an email.
Flipboard (13+) also has a handy Google Chrome extension and is a place to not just read content, but curate it as well. I tried this tool out for one of my previous courses and like that I can add a comment or idea to the articles, videos, or photos that I “flip” and that I can also categorize magazines and share them.
Pinterest My 16 year old uses Pintrest all the time for decorating and recipe ideas and I follow the Edumatch board, but that’s about it. I’d like to explore how Pintrest might be used in a school or classroom setting especially because of its incredible visual quality; I know some teachers are already having their students create boards for a variety of subjects.
I have been using Google Plus Communities (13 +) more and more lately to share information, links, videos, or project ideas with various groups of people. I think this platform has great potential as a curation platform. I am interested in exploring this tool more in this context.
Bundlr is a tool that I learned about through Joyce Valenza, in Curation Platforms. The tool allows you to create relevant “bundles” using articles, images, videos, tweets, and links and share them. Out of all these tools it is the one tool I know absolutely nothing about but would like to challenge myself to explore.
I have also personally used Evernote and Symbaloo, to curate and organize articles, websites, images, and blogposts based on themes and ideas. This blog (any blog by virtue of tags) serves as a curation tool for my own learning as well. Many of my friends (especially my Edumatch Voxer PLN), also use Blendspace, Livebinders, Educlippers, and Scoop-it,. Like anything when it comes to technology, there are literally a hundred apps and tools that might serve a similar purpose. Check out this list.
So how many of these tools are currently being used by or taught to students?
The current practice in many schools when it comes to curating information involves citing or annotating resources for one specific unit or project at a time, usually in the form of research notes, a bibliography or annotated bibliography which is submitted it to the teacher and sometimes even graded. This is good.
And so I asked the Twitterverse via a poll:
Only about 35 out of 97 people who responded teach students to use online curation tools. This is by no means reliable data–people may have said no because they teach kindergarten or don’t meet the age restrictions or don’t have access to technology. The results are interesting nonetheless. As educators we are constantly seeking ways to be more efficient and productive with finding and organizing information, but this hasn’t quite translated to classroom practice. Don’t our students need these same skills? I think we need to do better than this in 2016, especially when content curation utilizes so many different forms of literacy. Here is a graphic outlining Content Curation Competencies which I modified from Stephen Dale, and to which I applied three sample tools (Pintrest, Flipboard, and Storify).
Curation and Student Digital Leadership
In the meantime, I randomly Googled myself (a practice I regularly encourage students and teachers to do) and saw that my Symbaloo account came up. This made me think about Student Digital Leadership.
Why? I wonder about the current practice of showing students how to curate information specifically for a class or a teacher, which then never goes anywhere, when we could be teaching students curation tools that can actually contribute to their online presence and allow them to both learn and share their learning in a guided and scaffolded way. Better?
What if we modelled what content curation looked like in the early years by having a collaborative online curation space, and then helping our kids select and create content for that online space? This would work especially well in inquiry-rich classrooms where research is happening based on student interests. Here is a link to a class-created Flipboards by Lisa Noble’s class.
What if students in older grades were able to make decisions about where to curate their work and that part of that decision included a social networking opportunity which allowed them to share their learning as well as actively learning from the curated resources of other students?
And what if we asked students in grade 12 to reflect on their curated resources from grade 9 and the extent to which they feel they have grown as learners and as information gatherers and seekers?
Ideally, you would compare and contrast the tool’s features, check the terms of service to ensure it doesn’t sell your private information and that you are using the tool with the age suggested. Even better, why not decide as a class what features you deem important and have your students investigate a few of them and decide on which tool(s) they’d like to use for the year?
An emphasis on curation will not only help students to track the plethora of information on the web, and provide them with essential literacy skills but an organizational tool they can readily use if they choose to go to post-secondary. It also serves to provide students with an opportunity to learn and share their learning and thus foster Digital Leadership skills.
Dale, S. (2014). Content curation: The future of relevance.Business Information Review, 31(4), 199-205. doi:10.1177/0266382114564267
Valenza, J. K., Boyer, B. L., & Curtis, D. (2014). Curation outside the library world. Library Technology Reports, 50(7), 51.
Valenza, J. K., Boyer, B. L., & Curtis, D. (2014). Curation platforms. Library Technology Reports, 50(7), 60.