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.

What is digital curation? Traditionally, we think of a curator as someone who selects objects, interprets context and manages collections in a musuem. But 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’re a curator!

So why the explosion of interest in digital curation? With a mind-boggling amount of content on the Internet, content that varies enormously in quality, there’s huge 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 easy for anyone to select, collect and share their own collections of digital resources.

Ironically, this harkens back to early days of the web, when we had easy-to-use directories of good resources that were curated for us. Anyone remember Yahoo’s Subject Directory? OpenDirectory? And even earlier, the InfoSlug directory of resources in Gopher servers. The difference is now anyone can easily be a curator, which of course leads to the challenge of evaluating which curated 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, share them and maintain them, then 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 goldmines 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 literacy skills when curating content: how to search for and evaluate resources, how to organize and create a balanced collection, reflecting multiple points of view. 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: Diigo is one of the most popular tools for collecting and organizing (maybe?) web resource. With diigo you can save links to your favorite web sites, add notes and tags to help describe them and improve findability. It also includes a variety of social features that let us share our bookmarked resources with others. And Diigo has collaborative feature than can be useful for groups sharing resources.

Is this Collecting or Curating? 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. As an example, I collect lots of links to articles and resources that look like they might be useful for future updates to this Cool Tools workshop, my raw collections are disorganized and may not be of much use to anyone but me. But when it comes to updating these Cool Tools lessons, I use those lists to curate the resources that are most relevant and helpful. These lessons become the curated result of my Diigo collecting.

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. Presentation of the collections is a bit “prettier” than traditional social bookmarking tools. Some tools in this category include: Scoop.it, Symbaloo, Storify, EduClipper, EdShelf and Pinterest. (Some tips on How to Curate Like a Rockstar)

Learning Playlist tools like LessonPaths (formerly MentorMobEdu) and BlendSpace  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 guide the learner as they 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 present quite a different spin 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 small collection on a favorite topic, your favorite apps, tools for your classroom, resources for a lessson, etc. You choose!

Your Blog Post

  • 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?

*TURNING IN YOUR ASSIGNMENT

  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL for the post.
  • Return to the lesson page on the CanvasLMS site.
  • Use the SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT button in the CanvasLMS page and paste in your URL.
*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Canavas LMS system.

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. Explore one of these tools or any other curation tool that you’re interested in.

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. You can also follow people, check out the collections by these folks: 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. Scoopit pages are collections of short previews of articles and resources. Anyone can create a Scoop on any topic and start adding content, though the free version only allows for 1 collection now. A browser bookmarklet lets you easily add articles directly from the web. 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 evaluation skills.

Pinterest: Yes, this is your excuse to use that incredibly popular and addictive curation service! Visually appealing, the 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 browser toolbar to add it to their boards. You choose which boards to make public or keep private. To discover new content, you choose to follow other people’s boards. Has good search features to find content from all users. Check out  14 Ways Students Can Use Pinterest in the Classroom for some interesting ways to use Pinterest with students.

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 #edchat. More 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 my own attractively laid out magazine of articles that I want share with others.

Storify: Storify was also included in the digital storytelling lesson, but it’s also a Storify tool. “Turn what people post on social media into compelling stories. You collect the best photos, video, tweets and more to publish them as simple, beautiful stories that can be embedded anywhere.”

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.

And even more tools:

  • More Curation Tools : Donna Baumbach used BagTheWeb to create a collection of curation tools.
  • Curation Tools : Joyce Valenza’s collection of curation tools on EdShelf.
  • Content Curation : more tools than you could ever hope to test. Well organized collection curation tools by Robin Good.

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4 thoughts on “Thing 6: Curation Tools

  1. What a great list, thanks for taking to create it!
    There are some awesome products mentioned, might I suggest adding https://Publicate.it as well? (I am the founder) We have a number of universities and education businesses like Decoded and General Assembly that use Publicate to create multimedia resource roundups to send students after lessons.

  2. Hi,

    Great list of tools on content curation. As I was going through the list of tools you recommended I realized that Bundlr is no longer working so wanted to point it out 🙂 I would also like to recommend elink.io as a replacement tool. Elink is an all-in-one content curation tool that lets you collect content around any topic from all over the web and turn it into a beautiful web page. You can also export it as a responsive newsletter or embed it on your website. Here is an example of an elink https://elink.io/p/top-content-curation-tools-for-education

    I would really be interested in hearing what your thoughts are.

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