Unit 5: Extension – Curate the web

The concept

So far we’ve looked at ways to find and organise resources, and some tools such as social media with which you can share resources and information.

Now we’re going to think about that process of collecting and sharing in a more sophisticated framework: curation.

Curation, of course, isn’t a new idea. Cultural institutions, librarians, authors, editors, historians, and educators have done it since time immemorial. It is, put simply, the act of selecting and gathering together items you judge – on the basis of your expertise and interests – to be most valuable, so you can then share that collection with others. We do it all the time, whether it’s collecting resources for use with students, sharing links with colleagues, or sending hilarious videos of cats to our friends.

But in recent years, curation has become a buzz word applied to many of our common online activities. Using tools like Twitter, Diigo and Facebook, we gather great stuff and share with friends or colleagues – or people we’ve never met.

We trawl and stumble across and treasure resources and ideas from all over the world. People share their finds with us, and we pass them on to others – and vice versa. The process of sharing, like searching, is the very human heart of the web. It helps us learn, and it helps us teach.

So let’s look at a few different approaches to the act of online curation.

Tools for curators

Pinterest

Pinterest is designed to look like a noticeboard on which we can pin our favourite things. It’s very visual – everything posted there features an image, many of them quite beautiful or very practical.

You can browse different topics (eg Education or History) or search on keywords. If you see something you like, you can share it by adding it to one of your own “boards” – it then also goes back into the general pool of pins in that category, and may be shared (or “pinned”) by others.

Your boards are your curation tools – you can upload your own images or ideas, share links to websites, or collect other people’s pins on to your boards. You could, for example, have a board of book covers for your library reading lists, or ideas for student projects, or resources for your own professional development. People can follow your boards, and you can follow others’, and items from the boards or people you follow appear on your home page.

Explore some topics of interest to you on Pinterest (it might be lesson plans or libraries – or  archaeology or gardening or recipes) and you’ll soon see how it works. It’s well-designed and easy to use … but dangerously addictive.

Learnist

Learnist looks a lot like Pinterest but takes the board concept one step further – it is more consciously designed to present resources in a step by step format. In other words, it puts online curation clearly into an education context. Its motto is, “Share what you know”.

Again, people’s contributions (or Learn boards) are categorised and these mini-lessons can be shared through other social media with one click. They may be videos or images, structured as resource lists or, more commonly, as “How to” processes that you step through. Here’s a Learn board that guides you through the process of using Learnist.

Learnist might just be the ticket for you for teaching or assembling resources, or as a part of your PLN information stream.

Screenshot of Learnist

 

Curating anywhere

You’ll often see little badges on newspaper or other websites, to enable you to share their articles with others through social media without leaving their website. These allow you to curate the web while you are moving around it – just like your Diigolet and Evernote clipper you installed in your web browser in Unit 2.

You can see these buttons at the bottom of this page – and you can add them to your own blog, by using the Add This plug-in.

 

Collections curated for us

In all the buzz about curation, let’s not forget that it’s the thing libraries, museums and galleries do best: select, gather and make accessible. While you might be able to find some of the items in these carefully created collections through a search engine like Google, it’s not always the case. So it’s well worth dipping in to the online collections of your favourite libraries or museums to see what riches await.

Here’s a brief local sampling of the types of tools you can use to find amazing digital resources from institutions all over the world – often more easily and quickly than going through a search engine.

Trove

Trove provides a simple way to search the rich collections of major Australian libraries, all collected together in one spot. You can find images, books, maps, letters and manuscripts, newspaper and journal articles, archived websites, video and music – plus such remarkable resources as the extensive digitised historic newspaper repository.

It’s a wonder to behold. 330,000,000 items and counting.

Screenshot of Trove

State Library of Victoria

Closer to home (in fact, right here), the State Library of Victoria collects books, newspapers, journals, letters and manuscripts, pictures, maps … everything, from old theatre programs to the latest zines to Ned Kelly’s armour.

Residents of Victoria can also access a huge range of electronic resources from home, by joining the Library (it’s free – sign up here). If you’re outside Victoria, you can access a wealth of digitised materials online through our Search, or of course your own state or national library holds a similarly important and impressive collection.

So many items – from medieval manuscripts to football game programmes – are digitised, that accessing materials from your home or school is easier than ever.

Screenshot of SLV website

The same is true of many of the world’s major collections, and if you don’t want to spend time seeking each of them out, take a look at the Google Art Project, an incredible example of a high-quality curation project (it even includes Street View).

We’d love to hear from you about your favourite curation tools or online collections, and your thoughts on services like Pinterest or Learnist. Tell us in your blog post or post a note in Edmodo.

Congratulations! That’s the end of this unit, and you’re on the home run now to the end of the course.