What is content curation
Content curation is the process of selecting, sorting and arranging content on a specific topic or theme, adding value and meaning to what has been curated for your users.
Content curation is about:
- selecting the best quality digital content for your intended audience
- organising and displaying it on a curation tool your users can access
- adding value to the curated content through selecting, arranging and providing insights.
Curation is not only about presenting other people’s work. The curator's role involves creating a new experience for the user with information they've found.
Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme. The work involves sifting, sorting, arranging, and publishing information.
— Content curation primer by Beth Kanter
Why curate digital content?
Curation goes beyond the collection of content. The value you add includes:
- making a high standard of digital resources and content available
- grouping the resources in helpful ways
- providing annotations to help your students' understanding
- giving context to the information — especially for learning objectives
- saving students' time
- directing students towards quality resources for learning.
Strong curation … also involves making decisions about what is and is not useful to deepening understanding of the subject. Curating is a higher-level thinking skill. In order to curate content that is useful for others, the content needs to be synthesized, evaluated, and interpreted before being disseminated. Well curated topics and subjects help to inform and allow learning to happen at faster rates.
— Content curation: finding the needles in the haystacks by Christopher Lister
School library staff as content curators
Joyce Valenza of Rutgers University says:
Librarians are uniquely qualified to curate digital assets. ... Digital curation is a translation and amplification of our traditional practice. We study the specific needs and interests of our communities. We have always been around to tame the information flow, to facilitate discovery and knowledge building. Curation is a direct translation of collection building, critical evaluation, instructional partnership, sense making, meeting community needs, knowledge building and instruction.
— Curation situations: Let us count the ways
Curating content enables school library staff to:
- position themselves as research experts
- keep the library service relevant and appreciated
- consult with educators.
When you curate your digital collection, you can support the learning in your school by collaborating with teachers. Get their help to:
- clarify whether the information need is for inquiry or research
- define its scope
- understand the intended audience
- decide on an appropriate presentation for the curated information
- find ways to be involved in curriculum planning.
You might also choose to offer teachers a ‘just-in-time’ curation service. For example, the Cashmere High School librarian developed a teacher enquiry form which makes it easy for teachers to ask for help without leaving the classroom. It has been a real hit.
This form lets teachers tell the librarian:
- the topic they need content curated for
- which NCEA standard or curriculum area it aligns with
- any other requirements.
Cashmere High School Library — teacher enquiry form
Teachers as content curators
Teachers have deep subject knowledge essential to evaluating digital resources for learning. Expertise in curating content provides a reliable starting point for students' initial research. Guiding them to quality online resources right from the start helps students' learning.
By becoming a content curator, teachers can:
- help prevent students from becoming overwhelmed by digital information
- guide the development of students' digital literacy skills in the process
- scaffold learning how to navigate online information successfully.
Through using curated collections, students learn to:
- recognise a quality resource
- choose the best source of information for their needs, be it print, digital or a person
- widen their personal learning networks by using a variety of resources.
Teachers can use curated content to encourage parents to become involved in school life by:
- gathering resources to support reading at home
- explaining new technologies
- educating parents about topics such as digital literacy and digital citizenship.
Tools for content curation
Select tools to suit your learning style and personal preferences. To check whether your chosen tool will be a good fit for your school, you could:
- survey a sample of your students and staff to find out how they like information presented, or
- show a sample group of teachers and students two or three options, and ask them which they like best.
Curation tools generally fall into 2 categories:
News discovery tools are used to help select and aggregate information. They’re time savers because, with some customisation, they’ll feed you the information you want. Examples include:
- following a hashtag (#) on Twitter
- curations ('sources' or 'feeds') on Feedly
- saving a search or following topics in Google News.
Curation tools are used to collect, annotate and present information sources around a particular topic or theme. Examples include DigitalNZ, Diigo, Google Keep, Pinterest, Pearltrees, and Wakelet, but there are lots of others.
DigitalNZ helps you find and curate New Zealand-focused content. Using their 'stories' tool, you can gather together and keep images, videos, manuscripts, news reports, and other material from over 300 institutions across New Zealand. You can also annotate items, add descriptions and a title, and share your story with others.
DigitalNZ — see also DigitalNZ guide
Sharing your curated digital content
The method you use to share curated collections is important if you want it to be easily accessed and well used. Discuss with teachers where the easiest location might be for their students to access curated collections. Many librarians use their library websites for presenting curated information.
Examples of curated collections
At Heaton Normal Intermediate School's Learning Resource Centre, the librarian supports inquiry learning and research using a stand-alone library website. This website connects learners to databases, curated collections, and also to books and online resources within the library.
Heaton Learning Resource Centre
The Cashmere High School librarian uses subject pages on their library’s website to share tailored resources and support for different departments and year levels. The website also includes research support and links to the library's collection of books and other resources.
Cashmere High School library
Spartan Guides offers an extensive list of curated guides for school libraries. They cover subjects, pedagogies, resources, teaching tools, and much more.
Resources to help with curation
Guides to content curation
Content curation primer — Beth Kanter’s content curation basics.
Curating: Creatively filtering content — Sue Waters' comprehensive guide to all things content curation.
Collected No. 6 May 2012 (pdf, 4.1MB) — School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa's (SLANZA) magazine which focuses on content curation.
Why content curation is important
Building thought leadership through content curation — a SlideShare presentation by Corrinne Weisgerber of St. Edward's University.
Curation as digital literacy practice — links between content curation and digital literacy.
Content curation and the future of search — a series of YouTube videos presented by Robin Good covering various aspects of content curation.
Curation — a parody song by Joyce Valenza and students on Vimeo.