Students Becoming Curators of Information?

Images like the following ones, visualize for me the urgency for all of us to become information literate to wade through the incredible, ever increasing, amount of information being created and shared with the world.

information hydrant
licesed under CC by will-lion
information overload
Lincensed under CC by verbeeldingskr8

We are with no doubt in the age of information overload and IN DIRE NEED of knowing how to filter in order to get to the information we need. Think about Clay Shirky’s quote below.

Clay Shirky
Information Overload

In comes the idea of becoming a Curator of Information.

“Curating” is defined in the Merriam Webster Dictionary as:

Select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition).

Digital Curation, Curated Learning & Collective Curation?

I have started hearing and reading about the terms “Digital Curation”, “Curated Learning” and “Collective Curation” as well. Naturally it intrigued me. What does that mean? How can I bring it into the classroom? How can “curated learning” be connected to the idea of teachers and students creating their own textbooks?

Digital Curation is defined in Wikipedia as:

the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets. Digital curation is generally referred to the process of establishing and developing long term repositories of digital assets for current and future referenceby researchers, scientists, historians, and scholars.

In a fabulous article, Jeff Cobb, on his blog Mission to Learn asks Who Are Your Curators? (Thank you to Mike Amante for pointing me to the description of the ISTE panel discussion he will be participating in at the end of the month and all the included resources)

The idea behind curators and content curation is that there is such a flood of new content pouring through the Internet pipes these days that being aware of all of it and sorting it out in meaningful ways is simply not possible. Curators are people or organizations that do the hard work of sifting through the content within a particular topic area or “meme” and pulling out the things that seem to make most sense. This effort involves significantly more than finding and regurgitating links, though.

Cobb continues by pointing out two opportunities for the life long learner. The first one is to FIND great curators and the second one is to BE a great curator.

Curated Learning

How can this concept of “curation” of information be brought into the “classroom” (however you define the classrooms of the present/future and how it should/could look like)? If we can use Cobb’s suggestion and teach/coach our students to Number 1) find and connect to great curators and Number 2) be great curators for their own network, then we have moved closer to understanding Shirky’s warning about information overload and filter failure. “Quality” curation takes higher level thinking skills. It requires responsibility towards your network who rely on you to filter information on a specific topic. Curation requires the ability to organize, categorize, tag and know how to make the content available to others and to be able to format and disseminate it via various platforms.

How can we take advantage of  Collective Curation?

Here is a short video clip explaining the concept of Collective Curation

I think the following questions are worthwhile exploring for the learner in ourselves, but also for our students (elementary school and up). Facilitating the role of being a curator fits in perfectly with the role of “researcher”, Alan November suggests in his Digital Learning Farm model.

  • What tools do I use to curate?
  • How can I use my network to filter and find quality information?
  • How can/do I contribute and become the filter for others?

Tools that Support and Facilitate Curation of Information:

  • RSS Readers
    • Google Reader
  • We based Curation Tools
    • ScoopIt
      Be The Curator of Your Favorite Topic!
      Create your topic-centric media by collecting gems among relevant streams
      Publish it to your favorite social media or to your blog
    • CuratedBy
      A growing collection of topics & interest edited, organized and curated by everyone. Follow the topics you are interested in or create and share your own topics with everyone else.
    • PaperLi
      Create your newspaper. Today. Turn Twitter and Facebook into online newspapers in just a few clicks.Treat your readers to fresh news daily.
    • Bundlr
      Bundlr is a new and free tool for online curation: clipping, aggregation and sharing web content easily.With Bundlr you can create bundles of any kind of content: articles, photos, videos, tweets and links. Cover real-time breaking news from your sources. Wrap up an event with a collection of online feedback. Build a page where you pick the most relevant content on your area of expertise.
    • PearlTrees
      Pearltrees is the social curation community. It’s the place where you can organize, discover and share the stuff you like on the web.
    • LiveBinders
      Your 3-ring binder for the Web. Collect your resources. Organize them neatly and easily. Present them
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Blogs
    • categories
    • tags

Further Resources:



17 thoughts on “Students Becoming Curators of Information?”

  1. What a great description of higher order “management” of information and resources. For sure students (and adults) need to develop this skill. It pays dividends in all other areas of learning to be capable in this way.

    It would be great to embed this in various areas of the curriculum where research is already an outcome requirement. A curator of information is really just a good researcher and organizor of information and this should be part of language arts, social studies, science, and other areas.

    thanks for sharing the list of “curator” tools too!

    1. Brian,
      It is crystallizing itself more and more… The need to see how all disciplines are interconnected and that teaching and learning is NOT linear. The so called “21st century skills” are competencies for LEARNING and not an add-on to teach for one specific subject or project.

  2. Great blog – I am really enjoying how these ideas are all coming together – One thing – I use Twitter as a curation tool – I filter it using TweetDeck and regularly “springclean” whom I follow so as to get the best I can from it.

    I then save and share the links I like in Diigo.

    Any reason why you didnt give more thought to Twitter other than a PaperLi source?

    Thanks again

    1. Donal,
      You are absolutely correct that I should have added Twitter as a curation tool. I will experiment with Twitter and students in the classroom further next year.

  3. This is the first time I am hearing about this, but it seems so obvious! I always feel overloaded with websites, information, tools, etc. that this is such a simple solution to my online organizational problems. Once I start to use these ideas, I’d love to be able to transfer them to my classroom and my students. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Your comment regarding feeling overloaded is well heard. I, too, feel overwhelmed at times by what I have to filter through. I wish schools can invest in staff development sessions devoted to 21st century educational tools so that all teachers can catch up with the current medium (including myself, of course).

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