February 2014: Curation tools are cool!

Kathy's Katch


I have been curating online resources since 1995– finding links for teachers, organizing them into categories, providing descriptions of the resource, and posting them on a Web site. However, that was in the Web 1.0 era when all teachers could do was read and click on my resources.

Fast forward to today. There are tons of tools that allow me to easily gather links, organize them, and annotate them with information for teachers. The big difference now is teachers can also utilize the same tools to gather, or curate, taking some from my collections, and organize them in the best way for their students. These tools used to be called social bookmarking tools, but now are more popularly known as “content curation” tools.

Overview and Information

Curation tools can be used by educators to provide up-to-date, organized information for students or colleagues, for students showcasing their relevant organization of Web resources as an assessment, or as an easy way for students to gather assets to use in a project. Curation is different from automatically aggregating data with a newsreader, like Feedly. Curation includes the curator exploring and evaluating the items before curating them. The curated items often include a description of how they might be used or what they contain, developed by the person doing the curating.

Nancy White has been studying curation and is a noted expert in the field. She  penned an article entitled “Understanding Content Creation” in which she describes her goal of coming “up with a framework to define curating in the educational sense, in order to answer the question of what is the value-added of curating, vs. collecting information”. It is an interesting model and she also maintains a scoop.it page about curating learning resources.

Stacia Johnson and Melissa Marsh created a video explaining why and how they curate information and they reviewed several of the most common tools used in schools.

curating_ yt

Curation: A Way to Function in a World Overloaded with Information

Lnash, from Australia, has posted a SlideShare presentation that does a nice job of explaining how and why teachers and students need to curate information for their specific needs.



Curation Tools

There are hundreds of tools that can be used for curation purposes.  Some curation tools, like Diigo , Pinterest, Scoop.it,  and Livebinders, have been around for while, and are used quite a bit in schools. I wanted to try some that I had not used before and give you a little overview of the features. The descriptions and feature sets are not intended to be exhaustive. I created an account, tried the tool out, and am sharing my first impressions.

Bag the Web is an easy to use curation tool. You add links to sites or use the search function built into the online tool to find links. There is a Chrome extension and bookmarklets for other browsers to allow the user to easily add resources to their “bags”. Bag the Web supports media embeds from many popular media sites, allows titled sub-headers to be added to a list to organize it a bit more, and allows longer text sections to be added, making some bags look more like Web pages! In addition, you can embed your bags on your own Website or blog. And, as with other social creation tools, you can re-bag someone else’s content into your own bag! Here is a sample bag entitled “Exploring the Possibilities of iPads for Learning“.

EduClipper is a curation tool that has been specifically created for education.  You create eduClips from your computer, the Web, and Google Drive. You then organize the resources into eduClipboards which you can share with colleagues or even work on them collaboratively. It is easy to create classes or groups of students with whom to share your clips, too. You can align the content you are clipping and sharing to the CCSS and the ISTE standards. There is even a feature, powered by EasyBib, that automatically generates the citations for content that has come from the Web. There is a new, great iPad iOS app for EduClipper, too! Here is a sample eduClipboard of cool tools created by Adam Bellow, the developer of EduClipper.

Listly is just that– you create lists of sites or items and can both write a description and add a tag. The free version only includes a URL that you can share with others. If you want to make the list public, you have to get a paid subscription. You can add to other peoples’ lists, embed you own lists or their lists on your blog or Web site, and use a bookmarklet to easily add an item to your listly. Many educators are using Listly. Here is a sample of a list.ly list of iPad and Web 2.0 tools created by Angela Naumann, a 4th grade teacher.

Pearltrees is more of a collection tool than a curation tool, since there is only a small bit of information the curator can add as the title of the pearl. But it is a slick, visual tool. You create your own pearls, do a search, find some others you like, and add them to your pearl on the topic. (It reminds me of Ancestry.com when you find a branch of your family tree created by someone else and you add it to your own tree.) The visual aspect allows you to easily move through your pearls.  Pearltrees is also available as an iOS and Android app.

Tagboard is a interesting curation tool. You can create your own hashtag, and, when that hashtag shows up in Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Google+, and Instagram, the posts are curated on your Tagboard page. In addition, you can use Tagboard to search hashtags. I searched for #discoveryeducation and came up with this page. You have to remember that hashtags are an imprecise tagging system, since anyone can use any hashtag they please in a social network post. There are often outliers when you do a hashtag search.

I know many of you use additional curation tools. Please share what you use most and explain how and why you curate materials. Who is your audience? Are you using tools just to keep your own material organized? Are you collaborating with others on a series of curated materials? Do you have students who are actively curating? Let us know!


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  1. Stacia Johnson said:

    Hello Kathy,

    It was an honour to have our work noticed by you and have it referred to in your blog post. Content curation is great and there are so many different tools to use. I first learned about it from ETMOOC when @jheli65 spoke about many of the current online tools. I contacted him and he then provided me with a good assessment rubric to evaluate my own learning around content curation. At the moment, I am mainly curating material for language learning on Scoopit, but have been sharing a few tools (namely DIIGO) with my students. I will have to try EduClipper. My final paper for my course work at UVIC is due in the next two months around the topic of connected classrooms, but once I’m finished I’ll delve into the world of content curation again and add to my current material. Perhaps Melissa and I will do a workshop for educators down the road.

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