Curation

Over the last few weeks of reading ETMOOC posts I’ve noticed that sometimes I leave a post open in a browser tab for days.  These posts-to-return-to-when-I-have-more-time exhibit a common feature – many of them contain infographics or interesting visual representations. In an activity like ETMOOC numerous open tabs is not a viable solution, so I decided to curate.

I could have bundled the posts together with bookmarks and tags, but decided to focus on the visuals themselves as they are what I want to explore in detail and perhaps what I will want to share outside of ETMOOC in the future. Though I’m a fairly regular user delicious and scoop.it, I decided to work with a curation tool that is also very visual – Pinterest.  (To this point my use of Pinterest has been largely materialistic, though I have seen many using it to collect educational resources.) I like the way the board is coming together, though Pinterest really should listen to user feedback and make it possible to re-arrange pins within a board.

In the process of pinning these resources I swerved and ran smack dab into learning! I’ve spent considerable time exploring curation as a skill and have learned it is significantly more  than collecting resources. Curation also requires reflection and sense-making. A key resource I explored was this presentation by Robin Good “Content Curation for Education and Learning, Emerge 2012” (note – it will take considerable time to digest, but it is worth the investment). For a shorter resource see Beth Kanters piece “Content Curation Primer“.

So as valuable as Pinterest, Scoop.it or Delicious are for collecting and sharing ideas and resources having a space (blog) to reflect on and converse about the content is more important to learning – certainly to my ETMOOC learning. Jumping from seek to share isn’t enough – a good curator makes sense of the ideas presented.

I intend to follow-up this post with a few that delve into the sense-making part. But in the meantime I will to add to these great visuals as I explore the hundreds of blog posts in ETMOOC and the thousands of links contributed by this great sharing community. If you are interested in seeing the infographics I’ve gathered so far click the icon below.

Pinterest_Favicon

 

Curation

When reading about 21st century learning I often come across the term “curation”.  Beth Kanter defines content curation as  “the organizing, filtering and “making sense of” information on the web and sharing the very best pieces of content that you’ve cherry picked with your network” (be sure to read the whole post).

As more and more information is published on the web, we need tools to help us find, filter and organize that information.  Students need to learn that not all information is created equally and that learning requires us to evaluate and edit information constantly.

I use quite a few tools that help me with these activities:

twitter – a continuous rich stream of links come to me from my PLN through twitter

delicious – a great way to bookmark sites, research papers and other sources of information to refer back to

google alerts – an easy way to automate searches that you perform on a regular basis

rss reader – a “dashboard” for bringing all the blogs, news sources, and other things together in one place for catching up

Increasingly there are tools that bring disparate sources together and present them in a visually appealing way – almost like a magazine – and it is one of these that I’ve been playing around with lately.

Scoop.it is a tool that helps you to explore your favourite topic by bringing content (sites, posts, videos, etc) together in an online exhibit. Scoop.it will even crawl the web looking for links that might be of interest to you. You can follow topics and other scoop.it posters and easily pull links that appeal to you into your own curation page.

I’m just getting started with this project, so far I’ve pulled together some of my all-time favourites and will add new things as I come across them.  I’m hoping this will be an effective way to pull together information to engage people (in particular parents) who aren’t necessarily tuned in to the latest web tools.

Asking people to jump right into twitter or blogging or social bookmarking can be a bit overwhelming. My hope is that by exploring topics of interest through scoop.it they will see the power of curation tools for their children and might even try it for themselves.

What I’m scooping right now:

Leading and Learning in 21C

Family and Community Engagement in Education

Change the Tools

originally posted at: http://wp.me/p12hAn-89

Remember when you begged your mother to spend the extra money on the super-duper-deluxe package of your official high school grad photo?  I do.  It wasn’t enough to have 12 or 15 of the wallet-sized photos, I needed at least 48.  Remember when you looked for the least smudgy ball point pen you could find in order to write personal messages to each and every person to whom you gave one of those photos?  I do.  As I recall, we began to share these forced-smile, ridiculous background, did-I-really-wear-that-haircut photo wonders in junior high. I think the first sheet Mom popped for came with 9 photos, just enough to share with best friends and a few cousins. Each year my pleading for “just one more sheet” grew as the size of my circle of friends grew. I’m a sentimental person, but I bet I’m not the only one from the class of 1983 who still has a pile of these in a box buried in the basement.

My children have never, ever asked me to purchase a sheet of these wallet-sized photos, not once, not even the minis!  They watch as I decide how many to buy and who to send them to at Christmas time, but they’ve never once seemed interested in partaking in this photo-exchange process that I’ve tried to explain to them.  Seems it just doesn’t happen anymore.  But then why would it?  Our children are able to carry with them hundreds of photos of their friends, pictures they’ve taken themselves, pictures that will likely never be printed on photo paper. They have cellphones, iPods and digital cameras. They don’t need to write promises to stay in touch, while trying not to smear blue ink all over the place.  They have Facebook, Flickr and glogster to share photos with remember-when phrases.

The tools of memory-making have changed and the tools of knowledge-making are changing too.

Those of us passionate about shifting our education system to a model such as NB3-21C agree that the competencies we want to empower our children with: critical thinking and creative problem solving, collaboration, communication, personal development and self-awareness, and global citizenship, are not “21st century” ideas.  These learning goals have been taught by teachers, for many years, in many ways that did not require the internet. But while the goals themselves are not new, many of the tools most suited to facilitating mastery of these competencies in a networked knowledge economy are indeed 21st century tools.

The learning environment outlined in the NB3-21C Strategy Document would allow our students to communicate and collaborate across the street and across the globe.  Using netbooks and other technology tools, students will be able to personalize their learning path exploring topics of interest to them and finding others with similar interests. Multimedia publishing, video conferencing, shared authoring, and the development of  peer networks through social networking applications will bring added engagement to the curriculum. One-to-one access at the high school level will enable students across the province to explore subject areas previously unavailable in rural or small schools. This 3 year plan would eventually see all K-5 classrooms with clusters of netbooks as well as interactive whiteboards and FM sound systems, and all students in grades 6-12 would have 1:1 access to netbook computers.

So yes we can “teach” students how to learn, to communicate by reading and writing, to share ideas with their classmates, to be aware of world issues with pencils, paper and textbooks. But imagine what they can learn if we allow them to use the tools they already have locked in their backpacks, or give them access to the tools we use in our homes and workplaces. It is time to empower students in their learning journeys – it is time to put the tools in their hands.

Homework

Over the past few days I’ve spent several hours reading 8 blog posts at The Faculty Room debating the pros and cons of homework.  So many opinions, so many comments ! (100+ across the posts). If you’re interested in the debate I suggest starting with the wrap up post and then going back to the beginning if you want more detail (If you can’t read them all, don’t miss the post by Alfie Kohn). 

I can really only comment on what I see happening at the elementary grades as that is where my children are. I would definitely be on the “no homework, please” side of the debate.  I would much prefer to use home time for other activities or for relaxation.  So far we’ve been lucky in that homework really has been light enough that it has not interfered with our other pursuits.

So why a post about homework in this blog? Because I can’t help but wonder if  what “pro-homework” parents are really looking for is a connection to what is happening in the classroom. I wonder if the desire for homework is really a desire for some sort of accountability…it is “proof” that our teachers are teaching and our children are learning.

If what we are really looking for is connection then communication is key. How can we use technology to fill this need for a connection to what is happening in the classroom? 

  • What if teachers took the time used for preparation and marking of homework to provide parents with communication specific to the progress of their child?  A once-a-week email hi-lighting progress toward outcomes with information on how parents can help their child if they are falling behind, or challenge them if they are working ahead of the class.  
  • How about using blogs and wikis for language arts and encouraging parents to read and comment?
  • What if teachers could use a learning management system that provides controlled access to assignments, grades, messages, even audio and video clips? (here is one example)

I know there are lots of ways to use web tools for homework, but what if we used those tools for what we really want during the early years – connection and communication – instead?