Talking about content curation

The phrases “content curation” and “digital curation” are some THE keywords in the online world, especially in my library networks. The tools that are spoken about as curation tools are many and varied. I have been trying to  focus my thoughts on what I believe curation means specifically to me. Why is it important to my learning and how do/can I use it with colleagues and also with students and why should I?

I will run a session, or more if needed, for teachers at my school about digital curation tools. The approach I will be taking is explaining why it is a useful thing for teachers to do. When properly used these tools will assist our teachers with their professional learning as well as helping them collaborate with professional colleagues.

The AITSL Professional Standards for Teachers includes a section on Professional Engagement. The first paragraph under this is: Teachers model effective learning. They identify their own learning needs and analyse, evaluate and expand their professional learning, both collegially and individually. One of the ways to demonstrate such learning is through professional reading. It is easy to keeping a record of professional reading and evidence of learning and sharing if you become a good content curator. Content curation also covers the collegial aspect.

Content or Digital Curation is not simply collecting links or a lot of links. Many teacher librarians, myself included, have been collecting links (for example: school topics, research) for years. So:

  1. It not really a creating process as such but rather a process of sorting, arranging and then further publishing about information that already exists in the on-line or digital world.
  2. It is a process of first finding digital content that might be useful then sorting the results for the best/most relevant ones, value adding with annotations and then sharing them in meaningful (organized) ways.

Good curators identify and define their topics or subjects at the outset. They then select what to keep whilst providing some context and annotation. Good curators make sure they correctly credit the sources as they offer their networks appropriate and easy access to their curated sources.

How to begin curating:

Focused filtering and selection is a very important aspect of effective curation. Try to be as clear as possible about what you want. There are many ways to locate good content especially if you are a user of social media. There are also many tools for curating. See my google doc for some suggestions, these are tools I use or others that I have seen. Some I do not use myself but they are recommended by other colleagues. Another post about curation tools that is worth looking at is 55 Content Curation Tools To Discover & Share Digital Content” list with annotations from the TeachThought blog. Robin Good has created an amazing mindmap of curation tools.  He is an expert when comes to the topic of content curation.   He has an extensive knowledge of the practices and the tools and his comprehensive map of content curation tools and skills are divided into key categories. There are over 250 tools in this collection, so be prepared and take it slowly.

I have found that the best way to choose a curation tool is to be as clear as possible about what you want then spend some time looking for the tool/s that best suit your needs. That means, as you begin, you have a “play” with the different tools and critically evaluate. Some tools offer more advanced filtering search options than others. Some are more visual. Choose what suits your needs best. Of course, as with everything in the digital world, things may change and what works for a while may alter its perspective or/and not continue to meet your needs.

I use a variety of things (about 5 main ones) that allow me to find information and links. I follow a number of people and groups who are using social media, those who have similar interests to me as well as actively search for information on something specific. These include my Diigo groups, scoop.it and paper.li authors via Gmail notifications and summaries. I usually get daily but sometimes weekly summaries sent to me.

I do not regard  Twitter as a curation tool but I find it very useful (via groups and hashtags) to locate possible useful content. If I don’t have time to read it fully,  I use Diigo’s “read later” option to help me filter out what I want to annotate and keep. Twitter is also one of the ways I inform others in my networks about possible sources that may also be of interest to them. Pinterest and Scoop.It are both curation tools that I use often and they make it easy to share to other social media platforms.

When I first began I looked at what others were doing. Some of the others I follow or read posts from include:

In 2011 Beth Kanter wrote a very good post that explains Content Curation. I really liked her approach that is summarised by the graphic below.

I think it is important that the task of curating becomes a regular one, part of the daily routine. Beth’s suggestion about timing is a good one. I try to go through my lists most days. If, after a week I haven’t got to suggested sites, I usually delete the suggested lists, as new ones will keep coming in.
Below is a second graphic that offers a good visual about the process of curating.
Why Curate?
Finally Robin Good’s introduction on the reason for content curation with some good graphics.
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