30 June 2012

Curation Re-visited

Curation - a term which in the past was destined for museums and has now gone digital. Curator, the digital collector of digital gems and delights. Like flowers strewn across the cyberworld, a curator picks each stem up, regards its shape and colour before embedding it in his/her collection of digital references. 

Over the past year I have seen an explosion of curation tools and platforms be offered to the public. Among what is offered to educators, and which I have referred to already, is eduClipper, soon to be open to all.

But it is not only educators who have found digital curation of interest and use. Whether you work in a specific field, have a particular interest, there are curation sites for virtually everyone and everything. Yet, is this such a recent phenomenon?

As Tony Gurr points out, curation is not a recent activity. Individuals such as Stephen Downes and Maria Popova have been collating and sharing resources for years - not to mention the many bloggers both from the field of education and others.

Before I add my curation suggestions for today, consider the following:

Rather than indulge in further reasons why curation is relevant to digital literacies today, let's have a look at some recent curation platforms.

Mural.ly is simple to use and one follows the regular procedure - sign up, confirm through email account then log in.

Other curation tools are really up to the user - what do you wish to do with your curation? How do you wish to collate, to share, to display? What works best for you?






Szymanski (2012) points out how curation can be motivating for today's learners:

  • Motivations behind curation are positivePeople collect artifacts that they associate with positive experiences. You rarely find curation of negativity, or sharing of items that are associated with poor experiences. Related, the top motivators across all age groups for sharing content about products and services online are, in order of significance: to share a good experience, to help consumer pick out good product and to encourage company improvement. This is the warm glow around curation that I adore.
  • Millennials share content focused on “self.” Millennials’ (16-24yo) secondary motivator behind sharing content is focused on self. Specifically, “Like to share my opinion.” As generations get older, secondary motivation shifts to a bigger picture though, to helping consumers. Finally, the next generation’s (45-54yo) secondary motivation shifts again, to that of company improvement. This isn’t too surprising, especially as Millennials have garnered a reputation for being an entitled (and dare I say vain?) generation. Add to that the fact that many have grown up recognizing technology as a platform for both utility and self-expression or promotion.
  • Fostering expertise is among lowest motivations. ”To be an expert” is cited among the lowest motivations for all age groups, suggesting that when individuals share content they understand they’re not the “expert.”  Dare I say that this lends credence to the notion that there is still some respect given to original content? That, in order to be recognized as an “expert,” unique content and thoughts must be present. Still, I found this data point surprising. I predict that curated content will increasingly be more accepted as “original” content over time, as long as it contains some unique insight or alteration.
Although I don't particularly adhere to the notion of "expert", preferring to perceive someone as a "specialist" in a specific field, curation is relevant for both teachers and learners in different ways. For example, students can curate images, videos, articles on a topic they are studying then share with others in the class; they can also research/investigate more on a given theme, and through curation be able to share what they find in a visual manner. Teachers can curate a theme or topic and present the materials to their class, or ask the class to continue building up the curation. As in all cases, any task/activity will depend on the context and level of learners. Nevertheless, I have found it to be motivating with learners. 

How would you use curation with your learners?

What other curation sites would you suggest?

Curation (song parody) from Joyce Valenza on Vimeo.

Reference and further suggestions:

Content Curation: Truths, Threats, Motivations and Opportunities

Curation: A Core Competency for Learning Professionals

The 21st Century Curator 

Collecting Pearls

Digital Waves - Curating the Web 

Curating Tribes

Note: I would like to thank Baiba Svenca for having pointed out Mural.ly to me. 


  1. Awesome thoughts, Ana!
    I found out about new curation sites from your post, thanks. Your viewpoint about experts in curation is interesting, and I agree that curators are not experts (with a handful of exceptions) but aggregators of bits and pieces they find on the web.

  2. Hi Baiba,

    Thank you for taking time to visit and share your thoughts. In general I don't believe in "experts" but rather in "specialists", i.e. someone within a specific field that knows a lot about it, yet is continues to learn and investigate it. "Expert" comes across as rather static to me and knowing, knowledge is never static.

    As for learners and curation, it all depends on the purporse. LiveBnders continues to be a favourite of mine and one which I highly recommend to students as they have the option to keep it private or share with a set group of people. However, LiveBinders may serve one purpose while other curation platforms may be motivating for other contexts. I also find it empowering and challenging for learners to choose their sources (instead of only relying on Wikipedia).

    Although I work at Higher Education, selecting information, sharing it on a curation platform can be a great activity for secondary students as well.

  3. Hey Ana,

    Great topic and post, I also really enjoyed your Scoop it topic Digital delights for learners.