The first presentation I attended at the 2014 ASTD conference in Washington, DC was given by Dr. Ben Betts and Allison Anderson called “Four Ways to Use Curation in Learning.” Betts is the CEO of HT2 and part of the team who developed Curatr. I was eager to listen to this presentation because I am a fan of curation as a learning tool.
What is curation?
Betts began the presentation by noting how museums can pull individual pieces together to tell a powerful story. Bringing these separate items together with an expert helps provide context. We should think the same about digital objects.
What are the skills of curator?
Rather than just tell us about the skills of a good curator, Betts surveyed the participants. This is what they had to offer:
- Subject matter expertise
- Ask right questions
- Organizational skills
- Taxonomy skills
- Analytical skills to determine what is good and bad
One of the participants said a good curator is like a DJ, they pull together different songs and adjust to the audience.
Curators can bring a bias into the curation process. Curators must be aware of their personal biases and try to control for them.
What is the difference between a curator and a collector?
Basically, a collector is a hoarder because they do not share. A curator shares with an audience and takes time to add value to the collection through interpretation. A curator has an audience. A curator has a communication focus. A curator puts the jigsaw puzzle together.
According to Betts, there are many accidental curators. These individuals start as collectors and transition to curators. The difference between curators and collectors is the difference between doing for others and only for self.
Store – Transform – Share
Betts introduced the concept of Store, Transform, and Share. This is not a new concept, just different words. Kristen Swanson refers to it as curation, reflection, and contribution, and Harold Jarche calls it seek, sense, and share.
First, we have to pull resources together and organize them in a useful structure. Once the resources are culled, we then must assign meaning to them based on our expertise. We have to add value to what we have discovered so it is useful to others. Finally, and I think most importantly, we have to share what we have put together with others. We have to take time to leverage social media tools to spread the information so others can improve what they are doing.
Betts listed four different ways for using curation in learning: inspiration, instruction, integration, and application.
As Betts explains it, curation for inspiration is when you help to spark an idea in someone else. He provided a number of examples such as TED talks. Ideas that cause people to think.
Curation for instruction is when we create formal courses out of curated content. This is a common way that curation has been used. I am already curating content for an upcoming course. Many people could teach the same topic, but each course would be different because of the content pulled together. Betts provided an example of a course created using Curatr.
Curation for integration is where learners start curating for themselves. Learners should be curating their own materials. Betts showed examples where learners started pulling their own material together for the course as well as external to courses.
Curation for application is where users take curated content and leverage it for their own personal learning. Betts provided an example where a Lego document was repurposed for two other companies.
How to get an organization to curate
There needs to be strategic plan to curate. You begin by getting the right people at the table. There also, like most important programs, needs direction and support from the top of the organization. The process also needs to be simple. It has to be easy to pull information together. Finally, everyone must be aware of the process to curate.
Curation impact on Extension
Curation is something we have already been doing as educators. When we put together a lesson, we are curating resources in a unique way to support learning. Extension educators have curated content for 100 years. We put together radio spots, newspaper articles, journal articles, bulletins, workshops, etc. We now need to make the next leap and curate and share for a changing world. We need to curate digital elements and share them as blog posts, wiki pages, tweets, Pinterest pages, etc.
One of the important takeaways from this presentation is that curation skills are also the skills of learning. Each of us pulls together materials on specific topics. We then review the materials and try to make sense of them. Often we share what we have learned with others. This may occur through dialogue, a blog post, or even a book. Thanks to Web 2,0, there are many other ways to store, transform, and share resources.
I believe I am curator, or at least I try. I believe that Extension educators should also be curators. In many cases they are, but they need to extend their curating and sharing beyond the classroom. We need to be where information can be found and that is on the Internet.
What are your thoughts?