In a post on her blog, Cult of Pedagogy, Jennifer Gonzalez, a profess and teacher of teachers, contributed a thought-provoking post called, Are you a Curator or a Dumper? Her distinction between these two nouns is spot on! Gonzalez writes that “Our brains learn by grouping lots of pieces of information into groups and patterns—cognitive scientists call these patterns schemas—and connecting it to knowledge we already have in long-term memory.” Thus, dumping is overwhelming for learning, if not dangerous to the brain. As I read her post, the idea of a landfill came to mind when I thought of this concept of dumping. It just piles up more and more in no particular order and with no particular purpose. With curating, on the other hand, the concept of museums come to mind, and Gonzalez shares that “Curators take piles and piles of artifacts and selects only a few to represent an idea, a moment, an event, or a phenomenon…[They are] given time and space to savor each artifact one at a time. In the field of technology, this is called “experience design” or UX. “UX designers spend all of their time looking at how to improve the way users interact with websites and other digital products.” As we think about this notion of curation, what instructional approaches do we see at BCS where curation occurs? Gonzalez points to these approaches where schools curate:
- Student-Directed Learning: differentiated, flipped, blended, and student-directed learning models
- Classroom or school libraries: building a thriving classroom library
- Communication with Parents: apply some basic curation and design principles to this communication. Why No One Reads Your Classroom Newsletter.
- School or Teacher Websites: Gonzalez shares sites that make her want to click around, learn more. They make her excited about the learning that is happening in these schools. And it all comes down to the design, the thoughtful way the content is organized with the user experience in mind.
- Sharing Research: Take the time to narrow your focus to just a few items, then share them in a way that’s appealing will make it more likely that people will actually consume the stuff you’re sharing.
Be it, pedagogy, material selection and organization, communication, or collaborating and researching, it goes without saying, that schools are constantly curating. But, to what level of expertise? According to Gonzalez, the following guidelines are critical to keep in mind as we curate with each other or engage our students or parents in curating:
- Keep the Best, Lose the Rest
- Chunk It
- Add Your Own Introductions
- Use Images as Anchors
- Polish your Hyperlinks
- Always, Always Build in White Space
How? Check out all the curation tools she lists at the end of the post.
To finish off this post, take a look at Innovate – curation! a TedTalk by Steve Rosenbaum, author of Curation Nation, who contends that “curation is the new magic that makes the web work…fixing the signal to noise problem, and making the world contextual and coherent again.”