Thing 16 (Week 7): Content Curation - An Essential Literacy (a.k.a Survival Skill)

Information Overload by Marina Noordegraaf


We live in an age of information abundance and overload, but not all information is of useful quality. A quick Google search for "Curation in Education" yields over 4 million results. What skills do I need in order to locate, scan, evaluate, select, organize and share high-quality resources with others who may be interested in digital content curation in education?

In her much quoted, Content Curation Primer, Beth Kanter defines content curation as "...the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme. The work involves sifting, sorting, arranging, and publishing information. A content curator cherry picks the best content that is important and relevant to share with their community."

Rohit Bhargava (The 5 Models of Content Curation) describes content curation as "the act of finding, grouping, organizing or sharing the best and most relevant content on a specific issue ... [C]uration does NOT focus on adding more content/noise to the chaotic information overload of social media, and instead focuses on helping any one of us to make sense of this information by bringing together what is most important.

In his 2012 book, To Sell is Human, Dan Pink makes a case that the work of educators' largely falls into a category he describes as "non-sales selling." I think he means that we want students to "buy" and buy-into the knowledge acquisition and application, enduring skills and habits of mind we hope they will develop for learning and for life. As "non-sales selling" educators in a world of information over-abundance, we must become content curators. "In the past, the best [educators] were adept at accessing information. Today, they must be skilled at curating it
— sorting through the massive troves of data and presenting to others the most relevant and clarifying pieces." (p. 132)

What curation is NOT...

As you can no doubt discern from the above definitions and descriptions, curation is an active, ongoing process that involves human judgment and sensemaking. As such, curation is NOT about collecting links or aggregating RSS feeds on a certain topic. It is NOT automated "more-is-better" information hoarding. It is NOT simply sharing the results of a keyword search. In an age of information overabundance, when anyone can publish anything almost effortlessly, we must all learn what to to attend to and what to ignore. We must all help each other sift through the "noise" by creating and contributing to trusted networks (people and processes). We must develop, and help our students to develop, what Howard Rheingold has dubbed "Mindful Infotention" and "Crap Detection" skills. Librarians can help us curate, but they can't do it alone.

Discovery Exercise:

Read the following blog posts to learn a bit more about digital content curation:

Explore at least two of the following content curation tools. (If you are already a Pinterest user, try two that you haven't yet explored).

For each service you explore, be sure do two things:
  1. Search and browse for examples of relevant collections, boards, topics, scoops, binders, stories, etc...
  2. Create a curation of your own on a topic of professional or personal interest to you.

I am intentionally not providing step-by-step instructions for these sites -- part of your "growth mindset journey," and part of what we must model and expect for our learners is that they will problem-solve and teach themselves.

Six Curation Tools to Explore:

Write a blog post sharing your thoughts about the concept and importance of content curation for educators, students and people in general. Also share a bit about your exploration experiences -- which tools did you try? What did you think? What did you discover? Be sure to include links to your example curations (or embed them if that is an option). Include "Thing 16" in your post title.

‡ HELP Video: How to insert links in a blog post(from Edublogs). Unlike email or Word, simply pasting a URL into your post won't make it a link. You need to use the Insert Link butto