Content Curation – How You Can Add Value to Your Field
Today’s Internet provides so much information at the drop of a Google search term. Making sense of all of this information or organizing it in a meaningful way has become somewhat of a chore. Many businesses are looking to content curation as a way to gather high quality information and share it in a single, easy-to-find place. As educators we all have our own areas of interest and view those interests through our individual lenses to place an even deeper level of focus on the topic.
Consider students new to your field of study. Wouldn’t it be important for them to find proper resources that you have hand-picked for them? Students can be sure that the resources they are accessing have been vetted through an expert in the field and can confidently access them and learn from them. Content curation is an activity that educators in any field should be considering.
So what is content curation? The process of curating content entails you, the expert, filtering through resources that relate to your main topic of interest and then selecting only those resources that are of high quality and are uniquely relevant to your particular topic. These resources are then displayed on a website that your students can get access to at any time. The website becomes a museum of sorts focused on your own unique topic. There are several free, online tools that help you accomplish this task. Many of them create something like an online newsletter customized to your specific interests. Take a look at my Paper.li for example.
Other tools take this a step further and allow the curator to connect their finds to social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, or WordPress blogs. My personal favorite curation tool is Scoop.it. On my Scoop.it account, Focus: Online Edtech, I have setup a string of keywords that help the app determine what resources I want to see every day. Scoop.it scours the Internet and provides me with a list of new blog posts, articles, tweets, Pinterest posts, Facebook posts, videos and such that contain any of the keywords I have identified. This results in a customized resource library of newly emerging information on the topics of my choosing – in my case, Educational Technology.
While Scoop.it can be used from its website, Scoop.it also has a handy tablet app that makes content curation a snap. I find the app more convenient but the website functions just as well. So, when I find a resource that I feel is of high quality and will be useful to my peers and students in my courses, I click the button to “scoop it” and the resource becomes part of my customized newsletter immediately.
The best part of this tool is that I also have the option to post the resource on any (or all) of my social media sites. I can choose to add the post to my Facebook page, my WordPress site, my LinkedIn page, or, best of all, I can create a tweet and send the resource directly to my followers and students.
When evaluating resources I am careful to consider who the appropriate audience will be for each resource as well. On Facebook I host a page called Educational Technology Online. This is a relatively new page but I have followers who are mainly K-12 teachers who are interested in technology tools that will help motivate and engage their students. I only post resources there that this particular group of educators would be interested in. Likewise, scholarly resources and research articles would be more appropriate for my LinkedIn page since my followers on this site are all education professionals mainly in higher education and research.
In the Post University M.Ed. in Instructional Design and Technology program most of our courses incorporate Twitter into the course work. As I find resources that are appropriate for any of the individual courses, I post the resource to my Twitter page and include the course hashtag for that course, for example #postedu623. Some resources I feel are useful to everyone in the School of Education so I use the SOE hashtag (#postsoe). This way all of the students, staff, and faculty who follow these hashtags will see the resource display on their Twitter feed.
My final consideration is whether or not I want the resource to display on my other WordPress site. I have several pages that focus on individual topics including Online Teaching, Online Learning, Instructional Design, Mobile Learning, and Digital Gaming. If the resource falls into one of these categories then I post it to this site as well. Sometimes I am so excited about a resource that I post it to all of my social media sites. However, I must admit this is a rare occurrence but very easy to do using Scoop.it.
The idea is that no matter which type of social media my followers use, they will be getting customized content hand-picked by me. Also, my followers can be assured that I have reviewed every single resource and have evaluated it for credibility, relevance, and usefulness and have identified it as something in which they would be interested. This saves them time and keeps them from getting lost in the Google Ocean of often irrelevant search results – and as an instructor, I know they are accessing the quality information that I want them to read.
Content curation is an up-and-coming activity that will become an important element to anyone who is building their own Personal Learning Network (PLN). By collecting interesting, high quality content you are also keeping abreast of developments in your field of study as they occur – daily. Keeping these resources connected to your various social media sites will help ensure that your students and other followers stay connected to the information as well. So, how soon do you want to become the content curation guru in your field of specialization?