31 Aug 2013

Curation as learning in information literacy

"Curating the information available within an organization is a growing need, and one that learning and performance professionals need to be able to address. We need to be the people that organizations trust to help replace the endless noise with clarity." Steve Rosenbaum, Curation Nation

Curation is not exactly a new concept for libraries; for centuries we have been selecting, organising and preserving information. However, the ability to curate content effectively is now demanded of virtually everyone in today's information rich environment. Recently I have been thinking more and more about the use of content curation as a teaching and learning activity to help develop information literacy in the academic setting.

In its most fluid form, curation is an extension of a traditional annotated bibliography that potentially combines traditional scholarly resources with newer emerging types of information and data such as multimedia and social media. Whilst on the surface this may seem a simple matter of collecting a few links and references, in reality it involves multiple competencies and higher order skills. It requires a good understanding of how information is organised, where and how to find it, and the nature of different types of information. The curator also needs to have a good knowledge of the specific topical area, as well as the ability to appraise sources effectively in order to sieve through large volumes of information. Content curation not only involves finding relevant and valuable information, but also filtering out unnecessary, inappropriate and inaccurate sources. It combines creativity with analytical skills, can be easily applied in a collaborative context, and also provides an opportunity for peer assessment and feedback as individuals or groups can also rate or evaluate the resources chosen by others. 

Curation Flavours
Rohit Bargava discusses 5 Models of Content Curation which show how the basic concept of curation can be tweaked to focus on particular aspects or goals: 

- compiling the most relevant information about a particular topic into a single location (this is the type of curation most people think of)
Distillation - simplifying information down to the key or essential ideas
Elevation - identifying a larger trend or 'the bigger picture' from individual posts, articles or details
Mash ups - merging and remixing existing content to create new ideas or perspectives
Chronology - organising information in a timeline to show the evolution of a subject, topic or idea

These different flavours of curation may also help students gain a deeper understanding of the importance of context in sourcing information, for example, the difference between extracting the key idea in a subject compared to tracking the historical context of an event.

The richness and range of information sources today creates both a challenge and an opportunity for the curator, and there are many existing tools and applications available freely on the web which provide intuitive platforms for content curation.

For further reading, try David Kelly's excellent post that collects some of the resources shared on curation at #ASTD2013- Curation: Beyond the Buzzword

Image copyright Welenia, 2011, http://seventhirtyjourney.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/content-curation/content-curation_models/


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