Planning Ahead for Fall
Planning Ahead for Fall CC image via

I’ve developed a growing interest in the concept of curation ever since reading Brian Solis’s post, “The Curation Economy and the 3C’s of Information Commerce“,  in late April. Consequently, I purchased the e-book edition of Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers Are Creators (a current read) and have been bookmarking articles about curation.

What is curation?  Curation Nation author Steven Rosenbaum asserts curation is:

“…about something different from disintermediation.  In fact, it’s about re-mediation.  It’s about adding quality back into the equation and putting a human filter between you and the overwhelming world of content abundance that is swirling around us every day.  Curation replaces noise with clarity.”

Brian Solis says that in social media,

“…a curator is the keeper of their interest graphs. By discovering, organizing, and sharing relevant content from around the Web, curators invest in the integrity and vibrancy of their nicheworks and the relationships that define them. Information becomes currency and the ability to repackage something of interest as a compelling, consumable and also sharable social object is an art…Rather than creating original content, curators discover relevant content and share it within their networks of relevance with added perspective. The stream of an interest graph is rich with context and narrative allowing anyone connected to learn and interact based on the subject matter that captivates them.  The art of curation also extends to traditional social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and through status updates any social network of choice. Curated content also serves as social objects that spark conversations and reactions, while also breathing new life and extending the reach of the original content – wherever it may reside.” outlines the possibilities for curation in the classroom:

Curation is expression, action and passion…Not only is curation a collaborative process allowing educators to share resources and explore Education 2.0 ideas, but it is also a tool that students can embrace to engage with other students and teachers. No, internet is not only a distraction that kills the focus of pupils, it is also a place offering tons of interesting new tools.  Curation also brings the possibility to build around a specific topic or subject of research an interactive discussion between the teacher and his or her students. Suddenly the room is open, without being an organic process without any structure. Curation offers a context on the biggest learning playground the world has ever known.

One of my play projects this summer is to explore tools for curation to:

1.  Develop a sense of which curation tools might work well for my high school students and which tools might interface with other existing content creation tools and information sharing mediums students use in their personal learning environments.  How can curation tools scaffold students’ information literacy skills and their ability to share resources with others in their learning networks?

2.  Discover curation tools that work best for me as I curate topics of professional and personal interest.

3.  Think about the role of curation in participatory learning environments–how might the use of curation tools enhance students’ ability to take more ownership of lines of inquiry for exploration?

4.  Investigate how curation intersects with my efforts to cultivate student information fluency, participatory literacy, and digital writing.

My first curation tool I’ve tried this summer is, a beta tool that encourages users to “create your topic-centric media by collecting gems among relevant social media streams. Publish it to people sharing the same interest.”

I jumped right into by following several topics of interest (see screenshot below) and creating two of my own:  Curation for Learning and Embedded Librarianship.  Once you have created a topic, you can use curation sources suggested by; you also have the option to install a bookmarklet to your browser to “scoop” and add any information source of your choosing.  Once you’ve created a topic, the result is a sleek, visually pleasing aggregation of information sources that has a magazine style publication feel.  You can easily manipulate the layout, and visitors can comment on specific information sources in your “scoop.”   Another feature that appeals to me on a personal level is the ability to post a source you’ve scooped in the curation process to your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or LinkedIn account; with the Facebook option, you can even choose which Facebook page you want to post your scoop, so if you manage multiple pages like I do in addition to your personal page, you can share content easily.

In thinking about how my students might use, I like the idea that they could share sources they’re curating not only to their “scoop” portal, but they could easily share on their Facebook pages, or post to their Tumblr blog and perhaps share a brief reflective post about why they chose that source and their thought process in evaluating its credibility/authority.  I’m also thinking about how these tools could help them not only curate topics for personal research, but also to become curators for The Unquiet Library and to actively curate topics that we would incorporate into our virtual collection and web presence.

I also like that you can grab the RSS feed for scoops/topics you are following and seamlessly pull that feed into your favorite feed aggregator, like iGoogle, Google Reader, or Netvibes.

In thinking about curation, conversations about authority, credibility, relevance of the source for the information seeking task, and the inclusion of diverse information sources are essential in scaffolding students’ curation skills as they not only develop their own information filters for personal use but also as they share these curated information portals with others.  Curation also honors Dr. Michael Wesch’s call to help students move from being “knowledgeable to knowledge-able” (be sure to see his TEDx talk on this concept).

My next curation tool I’ll be playing with in the upcoming weeks will be Storify.  In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on curation and how we can support our students’ growth as curators.

10 thoughts on “Summer Seed Ideas: Curation, Participation, and Student PLEs

  1. I’m also fascinated by the concept of curation. Right now, I use Diigo to sort and save items of professional interest, but your examples are intriguing.

    in her latest posting on her blog, Architecture of Ideas, Laura Deisley mentions that, during her trip to China, she has been taken on “a tour of the school’s museum (many schools have an archives room where they show the history of the school and the accomplishments of their graduates).” I would love to see American student work similarly preserved, both digitally and physically.


    1. very useful post, Buffy! I’m going to try this summer – and also start using diigo in a more participatory way. Diane, I’m with you re preserving student work (big smile) and I just finished reading @charbooth’s LJ interview w Hathi Trust – wonder if they might be a good avenue, w some IMLS booster money….


  2. Hi Buffy,

    I appreciate your posting. I love your ideas and want to start using as a tool to share with my students and teachers. I use Google Reader to follow topics and Delicious to collect the ideas that I am following, but is much more visually pleasing, organized way to do this. I love the concept of curation in our digital world. I guess I’ve been doing this in an informal way, but curation in terms of your description is much more formal and useful.

    BTW: Red Clay Writing Project is awesome this summer. You really must do it. 🙂 We will have a writing marathon Friday where we will go from place to place downtown writing all afternoon, made me think of you and your desire to write.


    1. Hi Shawn–so wonderful to hear from you!

      Thank you so much for your thoughts on my post—like you, I’m using Google Reader, delicious, and some other tools to bookmark/collect resources, but is such an easy and fun way to share with others! I really appreciate your feedback.

      OMG—this Friday sounds soooooooooooo fantastic! I really hope that I get to do Red Clay a year from now! Wow—if you have time, could you share with me what Friday is like for all of you? 🙂



  3. Buffy — I am constantly rethinking my cataloging class which has morphed into Organizing Information. From what you have done so far do you think that the potential for organizing information for students might be greater with rather than something like Netvibes or Symbaloo?


    1. Floyd, you always ask the best questions! I think I need to dwell in a little while longer before saying—I definitely see Symbaloo as more of a private information dashboard or an individualized launching/starting point for students when they log on to the web; Netvibes has the flexibility to be an information dashboard as well as place for students to publish original content. Are you going to be at ALA? I’d love for us to explore this question more in person and/or via Skype.

      Re: cataloging class morphing into “organizing information”—the book Curation Nation touches on the shift from static, inflexible models like Dewey to these more fluid, organic models that are emerging now—I don’t have my iPhone or iPad handy at the moment, but I will go back and email you the passage from my Kindle notes, OK?

      Let’s definitely explore this question more!



  4. Buffy, JoBeth Allen said you should come do the writing marathon with us Friday! It would be a good chance for you to get a taste of Red Clay this summer.


    1. Oh, Shawn–if I had not committed to going to GLMA Summer Institute tomorrow, I would SOOOOOOOOO do this! Please give JoBeth a big hug from me and tell her I so appreciate the invitation. I am very hopeful I’ll get to enjoy the whole experience a year from now. I’d love to meet up with you sometime in July if you have time and hear all about your adventures with Red Clay!



  5. I let her read your post, gave her a hug, she was happy. 🙂 I’d love to get together when Red Clay is over; we can meet up to talk in July, maybe have lunch somewhere in the middle like Cumming or Buford!


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