Helping students grow beyond your course. Trusted experts routinely deliver the most useful information, based on a great depth of knowledge.

They have a reputation of never letting down their followers. They show authority and utility in sharing information with their peers.  Curation projects are a great tool to develop student-experts who exhibit these traits.  If your class is frequently built around student-led, in-depth discussions, you already understand the basics, and adding a little bit of technology can exponentially grow the impact of the in-class experts you have been building.

Student-created blogs, Pinterest boards, Scoop.it, Learni.st, and Twitter accounts, among others, can all be used to build a set of resources that students can take with them once your course is complete and your discussion boards have been abandoned at the end of the semester. The Personal Learning Network that your students have built, full of like-minded peers and current industry experts, can continue their interaction.

Making it PersonalA call to arms for educators passionate about helping children develop personal learning networks

Instead of giving your students a fish, teach them how to fish.  Plus, teach them how to build a boat and fill it with a great crew.  Soon, they will be the industry experts, because you are giving them a head start.How curation projects work

Remember when research papers started by compiling a stack of notecards, each with a quote snagged from a book or journal? We categorized each notecard, sorted, ranked, found gaps that needed more research, and eventually, we used our own insights to tie the information into a great paper.  On Bloom’s Taxonomy, this process would involve the highest-order thinking skills; exactly what a successful student/citizen should be able to take on.  Today’s technology puts this process online in a way that is easily shared with others, inviting collaboration, and letting others benefit from the quality curating that your students have done.  This is their chance to build a showcase of their work, throughout their college career and beyond.

Your students may not intuitively understand how to be good researchers, so their skills should be assessed informally before you assign the big mid-term paper.  They need some freedom to try out new resources without a graded penalty, and they need to explicitly see the value of one resource over another.  In my class (online or face-to-face), I would turn this into a game.

  • Step 1:Don’t be the provider of all information.  Tell your students the topic and give them a few days to find two or three quality resources to bring to class (or to post online).
  • Step 2:As students discuss the topic, have them judge the utility and trustworthiness of the resources.  This evaluation (higher-order thinking, again) will teach your students a valuable research skill, in being able to judge whether a resource is credible and helpful.  Throughout the semester, your students will learn where to find the best content, and their subsequent work in class should reflect this.  You have also helped them discover the value of journal databases, content experts, and other resources to tap into in the future.
  • Step 3:Turn quality research into a game, and motivate students to become the Class Experts.  Use a non-graded point system to reward students for bringing the best resources to contribute to the class.
    • Students receive 1 point each for bringing the requested number of resources for the class discussion.
    • 1 bonus point for any unique resource that nobody else found.  This will steer them away from Wikipedia and basic Google searches
    • 4 bonus points if the class judges a resource as that day’s “Most Trustworthy” or “Most Helpful
    • Whatever else you want to add…  Using computers in class? Points for the best “On-the-Fly” discovery that came from following up on a discussion point made in class.  If students are posting their resources online with a blog or other account, give points for gaining followers, comments, or likes, and building their Personal Learning Networks.  Bonus points for utilizing the helpful library staff at your institution.
  • Step 4:  Create a Leader Board. Let your class see who is building an Expert Reputation, and showcase their resources to help everyone else see what the class (not the teacher) has decided is the best.
  • Step 5:  Not to forget the point of research… Have your students create something from their findings.

Now here are some curation resources that I have curated for you.  (That’s called meta-curation, in case you were wondering.)

For the academics… If you need some empirical evidence of the impact of curation in a university classroom, there is a good preliminary study from the School of Education at Tel Aviv University.  Spoiler alert… the amount of socialization by students, rather than the diversity of resources found by students, showed a higher correlation to “increased quality of products.”  

And here is what might be a rather unscientific study (non-random sampling, volunteer response bias), covering blog use in education.

For the detail-oriented…An excellent parsing of the curation process, from St. Edwards University’s Social Media Class.  It includes some links to completed curation projects.

For the deep divers…I guess this is meta-meta-curation.  Look at the great set of resources on the Schools Digital Curation Project 2012  scoop.it page.