Last week I threw out several boxes of research materials – all articles that I had printed out or made photocopies of at some point during my time in graduate school. I relied on these articles, some of them more frequently than others, as references in a variety of academic projects over the years, but they had been collecting dust for quite a while.
As I contemplated the fate of the printed materials, it seemed like an old fashioned way of doing things. How long would it take me to find a relevant article that has been stored away in a box? It was a kind of content curation at the time – each article chosen by me to be part of my research, and my highlighted sections and penciled notes in the margins were still there. The papers were also organized in folders with labels like “systems design” and “survey development,” but most of them can now be retrieved more quickly online thanks to databases and meta tagging, and online curation platforms.
SocialCompare.com describes curation platforms as those that allow “you to manually select content online, to edit it and share it” (emphasis added). How can these tools be used in your online courses?
- Organize your research. LiveBinders mimic old three-ring binders allowing you to create tabs with categories of your choosing. Consider how you might use a platform like this to keep track of links and documents across your program, from class to class. Here are a couple of examples focused on The Common Core Standards and Google+ for Educators.
- Present your work. Scoop.it is one of my favorites and includes a combination of bookmarking, social features, and tagging for later reference. You might like this account focused on Online Curation and Social Learning Tools. This kind of display can also be used for a class project or to create a professional portfolio by “scooping” your web-based work posted on other sites, such as a blog or Slideshare.
- Create a reading list. Google Reader and Feedly are just two of the tools available to help you create your own news feed. Set up an account and add connections to the sites, blogs, etc. that you want to read. These tools pull the headlines and links to full-text into one place making it easier to scan multiple sources and find what’s most relevant to you. You may also want to share your reading lists with your classmates.
- Organize a digital filing cabinet (or cardboard box). Delicious at its most basic helps you save your favorite links so that you can access them from multiple locations and devices. By adding tags or keywords to each item you save, you can search your library later on as you work on assignments. There are also more advanced functions, as well as social sharing options.
- Share with a virtual study group. As an online student, you may find support and encouragement in the company of your peers in an online environment. Tools like Evernote make it possible for you to share your annotated notes, as well as multimedia and items you “clip” from the web, with your classmates.
- Facilitate group projects. Whether you are a member of a virtual student club or need to coordinate work as part of a group assignment in class, curation tools provide assistance in terms of collecting the required materials in one online space that also included communication functions. Take a look at Diigo as an option.
This list is just a place to start. How are you organizing your course work and all of the resources you encounter along the way? No doubt you stumble upon things that might be helpful for current assignments and later on as you progress through your courses. From your perspective as a student – building your knowledge and expertise through completion of projects, papers, and presentations – the items you decide to keep, whether it’s by saving a link or downloading a PDF, make up your curated collections.
If you are just beginning your curation efforts, find one, or maybe two, tools that work well to meet your needs. Make sure they are easy to use so you’ll continue to update the content and be able to find what you’ve saved when you need it.
If you are an experienced curator, tell us more about the tools you are using and, more importantly, how you are using them. Share your advice with other online students.
Image credit: Rex Roof, Flickr, CC-BY