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Digital content curation: For students!

Originally published on LinkingLearning

I’ve been a fan of digital content curation for a long time. I’ve blogged about it on many occasions; first waxing lyrical about Diigo way back in 2011, then celebrating the new year in 2013 by suggesting resolutions to use curation to manage content overload and then reflecting on curation as an art form more recently.

So what could I have left to write about, six years after my original post, and is digital content curation even relevant anymore? Recently it has come to my attention that everyone is looking for strategies to organise the huge amount of digital information we engage with every day, and I have started thinking that perhaps we don’t find content curation easy because we were never taught how to do it.

My previous posts were always focused upon the value of curation for teachers and teacher librarians. However I now recognise curation is a valuable skill that is a vital aspect of digital literacy; and something that we should be explicitly teaching students.

Teaching students how to curate digital resources is a meta-skill, that actually requires them to be digitally literate in a number of different ways. Digital content curation is not simply collecting links — aggregation is not curation. It is a carefully considered process, which includes a series of steps, each one requiring specific skills. See the infographic I have created below for a summary of all of the concepts and strategies content curation encompasses. Click here for a printable PDF.

The process of digital content curation is a rich teaching opportunity, and involves enough focused teaching for at least one term, but ideally could be spread out, so that it may be taught in context. These are skills and strategies that can be introduced even in the early years of primary school, and built on over time. However, if you find that you have students who do not currently have these skills, it is entirely possible for the process to be built into a research project. Spread over a term or semester, the students could curate resources according to their topics, publish these curated collections (this in itself could be an assessment task) and then use this curated collection (or even better, share the collections and draw upon a range from within the class) as the basis for their research project.

All of the skills and strategies that are listed in the infographic are essential for students, and in fact are key skills underpinning many aspects of digital literacy. If you are unsure of any, your Teacher Librarian will be a valuable resource. These are areas TLs excel in!

If you are interested in learning more about digital content curation, there are quite a few resources available online. Aside from my previous posts which I linked to in the introduction, I have also curated a board using a new curation tool, elink.io — on this board you will find links to my curated collections on Pinterest, and also some teaching resources for some of the skills and strategies mentioned in this post. Access it on elink here or check it out below:

So if you have dabbled in the area before and let your interest drift, or have never looked into the potential of digital content curation, I would encourage you to give it a go. You have nothing to lose, and so many skills and literacies to gain!