I’ve been working on the digital literacy of “curation” in class.   As with so many things in this work, it can be easy to focus on “learning tools” and not on the skills that are needed/are learned  in using these tools.

The ideas around curation come largely from Henry Jenkins’ work on new literacies (and the digital divides that are emerging around accessing these literacies).  Here, he interviews media scholar Howard Rheingold about curation.  Rheingold explains:

Curators don’t just add good-looking resources to lists, or add their vote through a link or like, they summarize and contextualize in their own words, explicitly explain why the resource is worthy of attention, choose relevant excerpts, tag thoughtfully, group resources and clearly describe the grouping criteria. Think of these little information details as the metadata for a collective intelligence. – See more at:

And this research article (that I just found and bookmarked on Diigo) speaks of the need to teach students curation skills:

One of the largest impacts of the Internet today is in the integration of various information types (news, entertainment, personal communication) and mediums (television, radio, print)into aggregated spaces. Search engines and social networks have replaced specific channels, shows, and even web sites as the predominant places youth go for information. Many-to-many communication platforms that allow for the large-scale reach of media messages have cultivated a vast information landscape that lacks basic organizational structure.

The result is that students not only have access to seemingly endless amounts of information, but also personalize content and reorganize it in a fashion that best allows them to make sense of a topic, and to share it with peers (Lessig 2008). Teachers at all levels of education must be prepared to negotiate the digital realities of their students as they design learning experiences around critical inquiry, analysis, and evaluation. Indeed, educators today have a certain responsibility to focus student skills and experiences in an exercise of participation with the surrounding media (Jenkins et al. 2009).

Students today have almost instant access to vast amounts of information.  Old ways of organizing it, privately and in drawers and on shelves, no longer work.

It can be easy to experience this new work as making our lives more complicated, but what Jenkins and others argue is that in the information age, sorting through so much media is indeed complicated, and learning to “curate” makes it much less so.


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Filed under curation, New Literacies

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