Summer Seed Ideas: Curation, Participation, and Student PLEs

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.

Ushering in the Era of “Validation”: Gaining Authority in the Age of Digital Overload

Curation” is a hot buzzword right now in circles of people interested in information and how it is created, organized, distributed, digested, and self-filtered.  As someone who has been and continues to be interested in the changing nature of authority, social scholarship, and helping people learn how to develop their own “information filters”, I was fascinated by this slidedeck from Steve Rubel and the accompanying article via Mashable (thank you to Steve Rosenbaum for pointing me to these resources).

While the slides and article focus on how companies and their brands can gain authority through transmedia storytelling, I think the principles highlighted in the slides and the Mashable article are more than applicable for libraries and librarians:

1.  Elevate the experts (this SO speaks to the concepts of participatory librarianship and culture!):  “Find your company’s subject-matter experts and empower them to “cultivate new ideas and engage in meaningful conversation around them,” advises Rubel.

2.  Curate to connect:  “Rubel pointed out an unprecedented opportunity for companies and individuals to gain authority and become thought leaders by being the ones who “separate art from junk for people to understand it.” Curation is just as important as creation.”

3.  Dazzle with data:  “The solution is to make data and information more visual and entertaining.”  I’ve talked extensively in the last year about libraries using more than flat statistics and your sole perspective to tell the story of library.  Think multimedia and shared voices of your patrons in giving meaning to the data you are sharing transparently with your community.

4.  Put hubs on hubs:  “Publish your company’s content, such as slideshows and white papers, on hubs like SlideShare and Scribd, so that interested parties can access it and “go deeper” when they want to.” We’re doing this already with SlideShare (but not Scribd–our district’s filter classifies Scribd as “porn”) at The Unquiet Library; I’m now thinking about other mediums for adding hubs that the staff can create in 2011-12 as well as our students, our experts in training (this principle speaks to Henry Jenkins’ identifying the scaffolding of novices in becoming experts as an essential element of participatory culture).

5.  Ask and Answer:  everyone in an organization should be able to field questions via social media, not just a few staff members.  I’m contemplating some interesting possibilities for ways libraries and schools could take this advice to heart to elevate our “brand” and authority in our community.

How do you see your library incorporating these principles of authority building ?  How might these principles help you and your library community create conversations for learning?