Teachers, are you doing content curation the right way?

“”“I don’t have time to develop materials for my students and why re-inventing the wheel if lots of learning materials are already available through different sources.”

You’re right. On the web there are about 127.000.000 results about Solar system, for example. There are videos, images, pdf, etc. So why would you create another resource about Solar system. Well the only reason I create something “new” is because, I want to help my students to get the information quicker, to understand the information, not just giving them a list of links, that they can’t make head nor tail of them. And besides that, I want to give them a feeling that the material is addressing them.

New technologies allows us to create beautiful multimedia lessons by searching and importing existing content from multiple sources  in one single place and share them with just one link. But here comes the most important part – how to put these contents together? Do we just gather links and perhaps content titles in a single place (see picture below) or do we curate the content?

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Content curation comes from bloggers and online publishers when they collect links, share brief extracts from the content, add their own commentary and publish everything in a blog post. I especially like this quote by Stephanie Buck “A curator ingests, analyzes and contextualizes web content and information of a particular nature onto a platform or into a format we can understand.” We could use the same philosophy when creating lessons using existing content. Let’s have a look at a simple example below, showing content curation by using a Learning map. Learning map is a perfect tool for creating interactive lessons with existing digital content.

One Simple idea for engaging your students

We are all very familiar with student activities like quizzes, branching scenarios, puzzles, simulations and so on. They are all beneficial for students in terms of getting to know the subject, but I believe they need something more to achieve better long term recall of learnt information and to be prepared for applying what they’ve learnt later in their daily life.

So they need activities that enable them to link something they already know with what they are learning. William Horton calls these activities connect-type activities. He listed range types of connect-type activities. But I especially like this table from his book E-Learning by Design, which presents what type of activity to use in particular case:

Simple technique that helps your students to remember more

The educator’s role has changed – that’s the fact. Students don’t need educators to produce/present new information – they can find them everywhere. And they are good in browsing, searching and collecting different information sources. The problem is that they don’t know how to connect them in a meaningful way.

So what should educators do? Help students with recognizing  the meaning, suggesting them, helping them to process and remember. So it is not about the content, but is about how the content is presented considering cognitive learning theory.

The challenge I’ve faced was how to incorporate everything I read about cognitive overload in today’s fast changing digital environment. So I’ve decided to present a possible method that could address these changes in this post.

Bite – sized information in a relation with curation

Imagine that you have a lot of different learning resources including videos, articles, recorded lectures that are useful for your learning topic, but not entirely usable. Why distracting students with irrelevant information, by putting everything in some sort of a library? Or why creating everything from scratch?

Use everything you already have, filter out irrelevant information, include your own thoughts and connect everything in a new and coherent whole that is digestible and meaningful.