Digital literacy is an essential skill for an online distance learner. It can be defined as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” (the American Library Association Digital Literacy Task Force)
Digital literacy can be developed through content curation techniques which can assist in developing such skills as searching, evaluating and organizing resources to create a balanced digital collection. There are many tools that make it very easy for anyone to select, collect and share their collections of digital resources.
‘Content curation’ has become a hot topic in this age when vast amounts of digital content are being rapidly produced and placed on the net every single day. Curated content in essence is a supply of good quality information skilfully selected by an expert in one or a few topics. The aim is to share this useful information with an identified audience and convey a message clearly. The wider the array of content types that is included in the selection, the more attention that might be attracted to it. Visual content is particularly powerful therefore infographics, images and videos make the selected content more interesting to read and view. The other forms of content are articles, e-books, guides, and podcasts.
Readers may ask where curated content is sourced from. As long as content is valuable and appreciated by the audience, it can be sourced from anywhere. Among traditional sources like trustworthy web sites, the best curated materials may come from social media sites, emails, surveys, Google Plus pages, or webinars. When a curator supplements the selected pieces with personal opinions and insights, he/she adds more value to them and demonstrates their own expertise in the topic.
A content curator must respect intellectual property and check copyright information associated with the resources before including them in their selection for distribution. There are copyright licences known as Creative Commons licences (CC licences) that protect a creator’s works while allowing widespread distribution of their work.
It seems a challenge for a curator to choose the right tool to sift through a huge sea of information available in the web, find the best of the best and present it to the audience.
There are lots of excellent tools out there that have different features for curating content and they can be divided into five categories:
- Digital Content Management Systems and Tools – systems for digital library collection building, e.g. LibGuides, Omeka.
- Content Aggregators – one place aggregates multiple sources, e.g. Flipboard, Symbaloo.com, iGoogle.
- Digital curation tools – content is searched by keywords and trending posts/topics, e.g. Storify, Scoopi.it!, ContentGems.com.
- Discovery and delivery solutions – tools for discovering and publishing content, e.g. Trap.it, PostPlanner.com
- Content planning tools – a means for collecting original and curated content and organising it, for example, in learning playlists, e.g. LessonPaths, Learnist. The learning playlists can be used to organise learning experiences. The resources (tutorials, videos, web pages, readings, ebooks, etc.) on a particular topic are gathered and then arranged in an order that will help the learner progress from one skill level to another. This logically sequenced content for students to follow can be as part of a course or for extra exploring.
(Note: This list doesn’t represent an endorsement of the tools included in it. There are many other tools with various fanctiones in each category defined above.)
The examples of the use of content curation tools: open this lesson path to learn more about content curation or this learn board to learn how to use Learnist. This scoop provides new information strategies for online librarians and learners.
There are some interesting uses of content curation tools in education for incorporating critical thinking into courses. For example, Pinterest, a tool for creating visually appealing “bulletin boards” on selected topics, is used by students to apply and assess what they are learning. When a student creates a board, it can then be shared with other fellow students and a teacher. They can click on the Pin-It button on their toolbar to add items to the board. For assessment purposes, a student pins photos, brochures, newsletters and fliers and writes reflective comments for each pin to connect learned information to real life examples.
Hall, K. (2014). Learning by pinning: Assessing higher level thinking through Pinterest. NACTA Journal, Volume 58, Sup.1. USA: Montana State University, Bozeman
American Library Association (ALA) Connect website