Thing 6: Curation Tools

Curation tips
Curation activities inherently require higher order thinking. It is obvious that curators must constantly evaluate content. What content is worthy of re-posting or linking? What content should be lost in the sea of information? A curator’s reputation is directly tied to how appropriately the curator evaluated content.

No doubt you’ve heard all the buzz over the past year or two about “digital curation” or “content curation” and maybe wondered what it is all about?

Traditionally, we think of a curator as someone who selects objects, interprets context and manages collections in a musuem. It also describes what librarians do with their collections, aka: ‘collection development’. And if you’ve ever selected, evaluated and organized a collection of great web resources for a research project, then you were doing “digital curation.”

So why the explosion of digital curation? With so much content on the Internet, both good, bad and endlessly repetitive, there’s an increasing value in relying on experts to select the best content for a topic. And with that need, many new tools have been developed to make it very easy for anyone to select, collect and share their collections of digital resources. Ironically, this harkens back to early Internet days when we had easy-to-use directories of good resources that were curated for us. Anyone remember these really early efforts? Yahoo’s Subject Directory? Librarians’ Site du Jour? OpenDirectory? The difference is now anyone can be a curator, which of course leads to the challenge of evaluating which collections are the best, most authoritative, most complete, up to date, etc.

curation

SOME BACKGROUND READING

These are quick reads and will get you up to speed on the why curation is important, both for you professionally and as a skill to teach students.

USES IN SCHOOLS

Sharing Your Know-How: No one can be an expert on everything, but we all have things that we’re passionate about and perhaps even are experts in. If we create collections of the best resources on those topics and share them, everyone can benefit from our expertise. This is also a great way to share information about what’s going on in the school with parents and other educators.

Digging for Gold: You may not feel like creating collections of resources yet, but you can still benefit from these services. They are gold mines of great material. If you find an expert in an area you’re interested in, then you can follow what they’re curating. They’re filtering out the dreck for you and sharing the most valuable resources.

Student Use: Students can gather materials for research, create bibliographies, create collections of news articles around a topic, collect graphics for art projects, and so much more.

Essential Skills: Students learn essential skills when curating content: how to search for and evaluate resources, how to organize and create a balanced collection. Check out this excellent handout on Building Link Collections to help students learn these skills. From the article Teaching Kids to Curate Content Collections.

TYPES OF TOOLS

Social Bookmarking: Many of us have been collecting and organizing resources for a long time now using tools like delicious and diigo. Both of these tools let us save links to our favorite web sites, add notes and tags to help describe them and improve findability. They also include a variety of social features that let us share our bookmarked sites with others. Diigo also has collaborative features than can be useful for groups sharing resources. EduCause has a great overview of Social Boomarking. Some would argue that this is simply “collecting” and that may be true. It depends on how much thought you put into your selections and how effectively you organize them.

Digital Curation tools take these ideas further. Digital curation tools encourage you to select articles, photos, videos, tweets, web sites and other online content about a topic or idea and organize them into a coherent collection that you can share with others. Some digital curation tools let the curator add notes to explain context, offer opinions and ask questions. These collections can be great resources for discovering and keeping up with information. And these tools can be very helpful for students gathering resources for research projects and even for presenting a research project. They can gather information, write notes and reflections on the material, share information in groups and all the while, teachers can be following along and participating as needed. Tools in this category include: Scoop.it, Storify and Pinterest. (Some tips on How to Curate Like a Rockstar)

Learning Playlist tools like LessonPaths (formerly MentorMobEcu), BlendSpace and Learnist have a distinctly educational twist. They focus on providing a platform for curators to create learning experiences. After deciding on a topic, you gather resources – tutorials, videos, web pages, readings, etc – that will help your audience learn the topic at hand. Then arrange them in an order that will help the learner progress from one skill level to another. Useful in a flipped classroom type of setting or as reinforcement for skills learned in class.

Content Aggregators: This group of tools takes a different twist on curation. They take the sources you specify and provide you with a selection of materials from those sources. Tools like paper.li scan your Twitter and other social media streams and produce a selection of the most popular articles mentioned by the people you follow. Another similar tool is Flipboard.

LEARNING ACTIVITY

Activities

  1. Read an article or two about curation – either from the sources here or find something new and share it with us.
  2. Pick at least one curation tool that is new to you and create a collection on a favorite topic.

Your Blog Post

  1. Title your blog post for this week: Thing 6
  2. Reflect on your readings and share your experiences and ideas about the tools you explored. How could they help you professionally? Personally? How might you use them with your students?

LOG YOUR LESSON: Don’t forget to log your blog post when you’re done!  When you finish this lesson by fill out the log form. You’ll need the URL of your first blog post to complete the form.

TOOLS TO EXPLORE

This is a just a selection of some popular tools. For a more extensive list check out Popular Platforms for Social Media Curation, Search and Current Awareness by Joyce Valenza, Brenda Boyer, Della Curtis.

  • Delicious: Though this service has gone through some hiccups in the past, it seems to be stable again. Sign up for an account and explore. You can add a handy bookmarklet to your browser toolbar to make it quick and easy to add a site to your account. The FEED tab at the top of your account shows links that have been added by the people you’re following. If you don’t know who to follow, start by looking at the following accounts. Lyn Hay or Phil Bradley, Check out who those people are following and you’ll find more people to follow.
  • Diigo: Diigo has a bit more of a learning curve, but that’s because there are so many more features. To be honest, I haven’t explored them all! Like Delicious, you can add a bookmarklet to your browser toolbar to quickly add sites to your account. One of the most useful features here is the Groups feature.  You can set up a group to share resources with others. There are lots of options for keeping groups public or private. Our CoolTools project has a group you can join: http://groups.diigo.com/group/cooltoolsforschool You can also explore other public groups without joining, like the Google in Education & Teacher Librarian groups. And like Delicious, you can follow people and see what they’re bookmarking.Check out these people: Heather Braum, Buffy Hamilton, Shannon McClintock Miller. Handy Trick: When you see great link fly by on Twitter and want to save them for later, packratius will magically send the links to your Diigo or Delicious accounts.
  • Scoopit: This service has been very popular, but unfortunately has discontinued their educational discounts and has limited their free version. Still, take a look, there are tons of great scoopit collections curated by experts that are well worth following. At the core are topic based pages with previews of articles. Anyone can create a ‘scoop’ on any topic and start adding content, though the free version only allows for 1 collection. A bookmarklet lets you easily add articles directly from your browser. Topics that are particularly well-curated will attract followers who will come to rely on you to select the best content in a timely manner. Sound a bit like a newspaper or magazine? As Joyce Valenza talks about in Curation is the New Search Tool, curation services are terrific places to turn to when searching for content and an opportunity to hone their evaluation skills.
  • Pinterest: The incredibly popular social networking, bookmarking, curation, addictive service. This visually appealing site is tons of fun and is a great way to create a collection of resources to share with students and staff. Basically it’s like an old fashioned bulletin board where you pin photos of things you want to do, places you want to go, books to read, etc.  Users create “boards” on whatever topics they want and when they find a great recipe, book, craft idea, etc, they can click on the Pin-It button on their toolbar to add that item to their boards. You choose which boards to make public or keep private. You also decide whose content you want to follow. And the best thing about Pinterest, you don’t have to follow everything someone is posting. If you’re just interested in someone’s boards about school topics, you can just follow those boards.Check out 16 ways educators can use Pinterest for a quick idea of how it’s being used in schools.
    • Example Boards
  • Some tips
  • Terms for the Pinterest newbie:
    • Pins – images that link back to articles and other types of resources.
    • Boards – collections of pins related to a single topic. You create your own boards based on your interests.
    • Pinners – People using pinterest.
    • Followers – Other pinners who are interested in seeing what you pin
    • Pin It Button – Add this to your browser toolbar to make it easy to pin something.
    • Repin – If you see a pin you like in someone else’s account, you can Repin it to your boards.
    • Following – This is your main page of Pinterest, you’ll see all the latest pins from everyone you’ve chosen to follow.
  • Paper.li:  Once you’ve set up your account, this service does all the work for you and produces a daily newspaper of content based on the sources you’ve selected in the setup process. If you’re interested in following the articles and resources being discussed using the #tlchat hashtag on twitter, you can set up a paper.li that pulls just that content. Or you could include particular individuals, groups of people or everyone you follow on twitter. Other sources include facebook and google+. Let me emphasize, you don’t have to be active on those services to use paper.li, though at this time, you do need an account on twitter or facebook to sign up. Some popular paper.li’s to check out include: #tlchat (Joyce Valenza) and #edchatMore education related paper.li pages. Joyce Valenza talks about using paper.li with her students in The Kids are Curating.
  • Flipboard: If you have iOS or Android device, do try this service, if you haven’t already! It creates a lovely magazine of stories based on the services you select. Not only useful, it’s also a pleasure to use. As an example of how it works: I follow a lot of WordPress news and have a long list of WordPress RSS feeds. FlipBoard takes that list of RSS feeds and turns it into a nice magazine-like reading experience for me. I can catch up on reading from the local coffeeshop or anywhere else when I find I have time to spare. And while I’m reading, I can select the best articles and add them to a an attractively laid out magazine of just the articles that I can share with others. And example: In The Fishbowl – a Flipboard magazine for teacher librarians.
  • LessonPaths:  Similar to Learnist, use LessonPaths to gather learning resources from anywhere on the web and arrange them in a logical sequence for your students to follow as part of a course or for extra exploring. Lots of useful resources created by others.

4 thoughts on “Thing 6: Curation Tools

  1. FYI- Scoop.it was my favorite curation tool to use with students and for me. They have eliminated education pricing for teachers and under the free version, students would have NO customization options. 😦

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