Thing 8: Digital Curation Tools

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Curation for Digital Learning
Graphic from Curation for Digital Learning from byotnetwork.com

Topics covered in this lesson*: 

  • What is Digital Curation
  • The value of digital curation for you and your students
  • Selection of digital curation tools to explore

* Remember you don’t have to explore everything in this lesson. Pick what interests you most. 

INTRODUCTION

What is digital curation? Traditionally, we think of a curator as someone who selects objects, interprets context and manages collections in a museum. But it also describes what librarians do with their collections, aka: collection development. It’s also what teachers do when they select resources for classroom projects. And it’s a skill that can be used to help students develop their critical thinking abilities.

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 hearkens 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.

Curating vs Dumping! These days anyone can easily be a curator, the challenge is to be a good curator! Dumping links into an electronic “bucket” isn’t really curating, though it may be a valuable first step to growing a curated collection.  For example, I collect lots of links to articles and resources that might be useful for future updates to this Cool Tools workshop. My raw collections are disorganized and full of things that won’t make the cut for the workshop. But they’re my starting point for selecting what will make it into the workshop lessons. This terrific article by Jennifer Gonzalez speaks to this point, Are You a Curator or a Dumper?

 

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.

Open Educational Resources: As the use of Open Educational Resources grows, curation takes on an even larger role. To quote Joyce Valenza: “The opportunity, especially for school libraries with little or no budgets, is to leverage this free content to promote access and equity, to create new user-friendly collections, and to embed the best into instruction school-wide.” Want to know more about OER? We have a lesson on that!

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. Curating a collection of resources in response to an assignment requires higher order thinking skills to assess the value of material and to describe the importance of an item.

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 a popular tool for collecting and organizing links to web resources. 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. It doesn’t present your collections in a particularly attractive way though.

Many Digital Curation tools are geared for presenting your collections in a graphically appealing layout that can easily be shared with others. Most let the you add notes to explain context, offer opinions and ask questions. These collections can be great resources for discovering and keeping up with information. And they’re great tools for students gathering resources for research projects. Students can gather information, write notes and reflections on the material, share information in groups. At the same time, teachers can be following along and participating as needed. A curated collection with reflections and observations is also a way to present a final project.  Some tools in this category include: LibGuidesSymbaloo, elink.ioEdShelf and Pinterest. How to Curate Like a Rockstar is a short slidedeck that would be great for teaching students how to curate.

Real Time Content Aggregators: These tools take quite a different spin on curation. They use the social media, blog, news, etc. sources and topics that you specify and present you with a selection of materials from those sources. Tools like paper.li & Nuzzel scan your Twitter stream and other social media streams and produce a selection of the most popular articles mentioned by the people you follow. Nuzzel helps you create a daily newsletter of your favorite articles that you can share with others. Other tools in this category include: Flipboard and AndersPink.

TOOLS TO EXPLORE

This is a small selection of some popular tools. Explore one of the following tools, tools mentioned above 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 features. To be honest, I haven’t explored them all! Like many tools, you can add a browser extension or a bookmarklet to your browser toolbar to quickly add sites to your account. One of the most useful features here is the Groups feature.

PINTEREST: An excuse to play with Pinterest! Visually appealing, Pinterest 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’re interested in and when they find a great resource, recipe, book, craft idea, etc., they click on the Pin-It button/extension on their browser toolbar to add it to their boards. To discover new content, you choose to follow other people’s boards. Pinterest 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.

WAKELET: A newish curation tool that is currently free. Makes attractive pages to share your content. Collection feature to organize content and share it. Collections can be embedded on other webpages. For example, our CoolTools MORE TO EXPLORE pages are created with embedded Wakelet collections. Whenever I add a new resource to a Wakelet collection, it automatically appears on the correct MORE TO EXPLORE page.  Web, iOS and Android apps. 

ELINK – Another free tool that creates attractive collection pages that can be embedded on a website or linked to directly for sharing. The paid Pro version has an option to send out your collection as a newsletter. Free account has a variety of layouts and display options. Also has browser addons to quickly add resources to your collections. Free account has advertising on the collection pages.

PADLET* – Padlet can be used for many purposes and curation is one of them. Add the Padlet browser addon to quickly add content to your Padlet pages. With a free account you can create 3 Padlet pages. There are multiple ways to arrange the content on the page. Collaboration features include the ability to leave comments, vote and rate content, add contributors and let them add content. Pro (paid) accounts have features for managing student accounts.  (*Referral link)

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.
  • Examples

LIBGUIDES: This is a very popular service with schools and colleges. The service isn’t free, but it is being offered to many schools around through consortium purchasing. Check with your regional School Library System to see if you have access to it. It provides a framework for creating guides to resources and makes it simple to reuse content across multiple guides.

NUZZEL – As a real-time news aggregation tool, it pulls in the latest, popular content from your twitter stream. Good way to monitor twitter without ever visiting your twitter account. As a curation tool, Nuzzel helps you create a daily newsletter with articles and posts that you select from any source you like. If you don’t have time everyday, Nuzzel will create a newsletter for you with content from your twitter friends. Or you can turn that option off. Send a weekly newsletter if you prefer. People can subscribe and get your updates in their email. Examples: Polly’s Newsletter, Tony Vincent’s newsletter

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.
  • Some popular Paper.li’s to check out include: #tlchat and #edchat.
  • More education related paper.li pages.
  • Joyce Valenza talks about using paper.li with her students in The Kids are Curating.

MORE TO EXPLORE

LEARNING ACTIVITY

Activities

  1. Read an article or two about curation – either from the sources in this lesson or find something new and share it with us.
  2. Options
    • 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 lesson, etc. You choose!
    • Or dig deeper into a tool you already use and explore new aspects of it.

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?
  • Share the collection you created. Either link to it or embed it in your blog post if that’s possible.

*TURNING IN YOUR ASSIGNMENT

  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL (webpage address) for your post.
  • Return to your Google Classroom, find the assignment page for the lesson you just completed and follow the directions for turning in and sharing your work.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Google Classroom.


6 thoughts on “Thing 8: Digital Curation Tools

  1. 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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