Constructing Knowledge through Curation

Triggering Question: What are ways in which students can critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others?

The key word in that statement for me is Constructing Knowledge. How can we teach students to organize and keep track of digital artifacts so that they can start to see the big picture, make connections between multiple resources and begin constructing new meaning for themselves?

As I was thinking about that, and learning more about “curation” as a skill, it dawned on me how important it is to be purposeful about the questions that you craft about your topic.  Without those purposeful questions it is easy to get distracted by what you find in a search and difficult to know how to tag and comment on the resources you do find to make sure they are relevant to your task. Part of constructing knowledge is, after all, the answering of questions and gaining enough surface knowledge in order to be able to analyze, evaluate and synthesize the information into deeper understanding.

When i first started thinking about curation, I started by learning how curation is defined. Nancy White’s wiki page, Curating Resources in Education, created a little Aha moment for me when I was reading about what she sees as the differences between Collecting and Curating. When we ask students to do research we often stop them at the collecting stage or at least that’s where we stop teaching them. If they have their three resources, regardless of whether they really learned anything useful from the website, we’ll call it good.

Curation Infographic by Nancy White
After my first post, Nancy White sent me her revised curation infographic! https://nancyweducationinnovations.wordpress.com/

What she suggests makes curating more valuable is the focus on higher level thinking skills and looking for resources with quality, rather than quantity. Also, curated resources are shared with others because they have value to both the individual and other learners. Collecting with Purpose!!!

The ISTE 3c standard states: “Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.” I read a great article by Heather Bailie on Curation as a Tool for Teaching. It has some  great research and links to other articles on curation. I liked her definition of curation “curation is locating, evaluating and selecting (usually) online content on a topic, adding value by contextualising and possibly through tagging or commenting or both; and using digital tools to provide access to the curated material,”  which I think clarifies for me the how of helping students make meaningful connections. Tagging, sharing and adding annotation or comments to online resources allows students to “add value” to the content they find online in ways that help them make their own sense of the material and begin to make connections between their questions and interests and the information they find online.

I decided to give it a little bit of a go myself. I’ve used Diigo.com, Scoop.it, Edshelf.com and a few others before but I tried a tool called Scrible.com. It let me tag, comment and save links to websites as well as add annotations and “post its” to pages. I haven’t done it yet but it also allows me to add documents and bookmarks to my curated library and then I can share it with others. Here’s my early first steps with Scrible, although it wouldn’t let me share with a link to my collection like Diigo does. I think that If I did it again, or with students, I’d have them create tags based on their research questions before I showed them a tool like this so they could start by sorting and tagging information that was relevant as they began their search.


Curation is becoming more and more important in the business world (Bhargava 2011) because marketers need to help their customers narrow down the firehose of information that can be found on the internet. Online tools like Scoop.it are used by companies as well individuals to help collect and give meaning to information in people’s interest areas. It’s still going to be important for teachers to help students understand the bias in using some of the sites that curate the “top 20 apps for doing your homework” but, like Wikipedia (another useful socially curated site) , they can be good launching places to start research as long as you know what you are looking for in the first place.

Resources:

  • White, N. (2016, November 5). Curating Resources in Education. Retrieved January 17, 2017, from http://curatingisthecure.wikispaces.com/

 

6 thoughts on “Constructing Knowledge through Curation

  1. I too had an aha moment during this module about collection versus curation. It seems like such a fuzzy distinction until you realize how truly different they are! I think you’re right that instruction often stops at the collection phase. And in thinking about this, I arrived at the question: Is a research paper a form of curation? Looking at White’s graphic, maybe you’d need to share it for it to really fulfill the point of curation.

    1. I hadn’t thought of a research paper that way. I think it might be as long as your research question isn’t something “Googlable” and they are forced to form their own opinions on the topic. I wouldn’t consider your typical animal report in elementary school to be more than a collection of facts. You’ve got me thinking about how I might transform a research paper like that though. Thanks!

      1. Right. I was thinking more like a college research paper. Something like this:
        “The goal of a research paper is not to inform the reader what others have to say about a topic, but to draw on what others have to say about a topic and engage the sources in order to thoughtfully offer a unique perspective on the issue at hand.” https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/658/02/

        I feel like this source says what I am thinking more clearly, but I’m not sure I agree with everything else they say on the page.
        “Yet a research paper is more than the sum of your sources, more than a collection of different pieces of information about a topic, and more than a review of the literature in a field. A research paper analyzes a perspective or argues a point… A research paper is an expanded essay that presents your own interpretation or evaluation or argument.”
        https://www.esc.edu/online-writing-center/resources/research/research-paper/

  2. Karen, I appreciated your train of thought in this blog post. I had used Diigo before with my former high school students and back when the full suite was free it was an incredible resource. I felt like it was something free and straightforward that could replace the traditional notecard collection for research artifacts. This Scrible is cool, and I think I might use it with my students now once I do a bit more research.

    1. There are a couple of other ones out there like edshelf.com but it’s hard to find free tools. Shared OneNote notebooks could possibly serve the same purpose. Let me know if you try scribble. I haven’t tried it with students yet.

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