Curation: Day 3 of the #BYOD4L MOOC


Today’s live chat session was missed due to an evening degree class I was teaching from 6-9pm. I did, however use the coffee break (who needs coffee at 7:30pm?) to ask these particular students how they manage and ‘curate’ their learning resources. Being on an evening degree course, they are predominantly time restricted due to daytime commitments and need to mange their resources wisely.

Due to my own ineptitude and inability to find and curate the twitter chat, I’m going to wait until the whole thing is Storify-ed by someone else. I like and have used Storify, but will save that story for Q2.

Q1 What does curating mean to you?

Is this a newfangled term, or has it just become fashionable with new media? I find it’s one of those words like ‘currency’ and ‘residency’ that gets used a lot without much reference as to the definition or meaning of the word. To me, it follows from the museum or archive curator. Curation is the task of gathering, ordering, labelling and looking after stuff to keep it in some form or collection that gives value beyond the individual artefacts when looked at in isolation.

Q2 What mobile device(s)/tool(s) and apps do you use for curating?

Following from my definition, I suppose my email account (stuff I mail to myself amounts to a smallish online archive of things I need to act upon) and notes tool (Evernote etc) have curated content for myself.

On a personal level I also ‘curate’ my running and waking activities using an app so that I have the data on where and when I’ve been out.

Professionally, I dabbled with Delicious to a few years ago to get students to find, evaluate and share academic articles on a particular topic. More about that later.  I’ve more recently used Storify to piece together the tweets relating to events or conference streams I’ve chaired.  Here’s the first Storify of a Legal Education Conference that I tried out in 2012.

Q3 Why do you curate – motivations & purpose?

Storify gets used mainly to piece together what was discussed on twitter to help me then write a report which includes feedback or comments from participants (or online visitors). It also provides a useful resource for those who weren’t involved at the time to look over and quickly catch up. At present, I’ve no desire to rake over the #byod4lchat tweets, but would look over a curated archive for sure.

I curate because I see value in what others curate, which I rely upon or make use of because I trust their skills to select and present the relevant ‘stuff’ that I’d like to access. However, my curated materials for students are perhaps accessed for different reasons: because I’m the teacher and they see that I have that role to supply the right ‘stuff’. There are many other reasons too, but that’s enough for now.

Q4 How do get others to engage with your curated content?

Going back to Delicious, as I said I would, the students were asked to source and review an article. They were amassing and collectively curating articles relevant to their coursework question. Tags were encouraged and they developed organically with a tag cloud reshaping itself periodically. Students engaged because it related to the assessment.

Here’s some detail about an ROI social media project I undertook, which lead me to consider using Delicious and the concept of compiling an annotated bibliography as a learning activity.  We published the Social Media ROI Bibliography to SSRN for others to use.

With the student cohort, their curation of articles was done using our VLE and a blogging tool to allow them to easily compile and share within Blackboard, which they were very much used to using as a platform on a daily basis.  They were tasked with sourcing and reviewing an article each (n=51) on the topic of Discrimination in Employment Law.  The following year, the topic of assessment changed, but the curated archive is a legacy written by students for future students, and which points out, from a learners perspective, the salient parts of an academic paper.

On a wider level, publishing this annotated bibliography (super-curated by academic or research staff) on SSRN made it available to researchers, practitioners and teachers elsewhere holding a interest in the subject matter.

Now, I really do need to wade through the uncurated #byod4lchat tweets to find a tool I’ve not used for adoption and adaption purposes! Searching for tweets with A3 would be a good start!!

About Michael Bromby
Lecturer in Law at Truman Bodden Law School

3 Responses to Curation: Day 3 of the #BYOD4L MOOC

  1. annindk says:

    Well done for engaging with a MOOC!

    When I first looked into curation a couple of years ago some commentators were adamant that if you don’t do it with an audience in mind it’s not curation, and there is still a point in there somewhere. A lot of professional curators were rather sniffy about the newfangled use of the term, much in the same way librarians get distressed about the misuse of indexing, etc…there’s some horrible examples about, such as event organisers ‘curating’ the speakers for an event (ie asking them to speak).

    As a learning tool curation can be great, just so long as you don’t expect anyone else to read it. Alastair Creelman (Scot in Sweden, do you know him?) has just blogged about this – see Excellent point re not invented here syndrome.

    Looking at the point is made about curation creating (ha!) an organised body of content on a topic, but isn’t that a catalogue?

    I still use Storify on occasion but I find it very fiddly and I’m not keen on streams (although I realise that battle is lost). Re Twitter streams, I’m looking into text analysis approaches to surface anything of interest, but often it’s all rather short term. Martin Hawksey’s TAGS viewer let’s you look at the stream in a number of different ways too.

    I tried Scoopit and I did like it – you can add tags! but didn’t stick with it. A lot of my blog posts are curations really – for me there is a tension between creating and curating. At the moment I’m using Tumblr (via a handy bookmarklet) as a curation tool to complement a blog. Plus I keep endless lists of links in Evernote.

    So, in a way, curation seems to have developed mainly as a supporting activity for something else, rather than an end in itself. Rather different from the goals of a professional curator. Interestingly, the Danish word for a curator is formidler, which has resonances of transmitting – so more about the who than the what.

    And yes, coffee at 7:30pm? Madness!

    • Thanks Ann, I’m pleased to be completing a MOOC, that is if I make today’s blog post in time!

      I know know all the exiled Scots, but will look out for him, agree with lots of your comments and will follow up the links.

    • amiddlet50 says:

      Distinguishing between curating and cataloguing is interesting. In terms of having a user in mind, I think for a lot of bloggers the primary audience is yourself. And that goes for other curating environments too. The act of curating is a reflective learning act. The possibility of another audience gives that process legitimacy and authenticity.

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