Curating vs. Collecting

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Is there a difference between curating and collecting?

As we are teaching new concepts or having students dive into a research activity, it is important that students understand the different between curating and collecting. Collecting is when students get as much as they can. They collect all of the resources, whether they find the resource online, in a book, or they (the student) creates the resource. Very little is thrown out when a student is collecting information/resources. Curating is when students siphon through resources, readings, etc. to pull the most relevant pieces for the task at hand.

As an educator, if I begin a unit on biomimicry I may want students to begin curating resources to support their understanding of biomimicry. Students may be asked to bring in a picture of an example of biomimicry in their house. Students would share what animal their picture is representative of. Students may also pull relevant articles from the internet to add to their curated list of information on biomimicry. Finally I would have students look at innovations from other students around the globe and analyze whether or not the innovations truly represent biomimicry. At the end of the unit, students would have images, articles, and real-world examples of biomimicry with reflections to go with each example. This will truly inform our understanding of biomimicry. This would be a true example of curation in the classroom.

Beyond disciplinary specialism, curation also adds a fresh strand to the pedagogical
debate around constructionism: it suggests a powerful online space for discovery-led
learning where students effectively use previously collected information to develop
fresh knowledge (Kafai and Resnick, 1996).

Hallett, R., & Grindle, N. (2019). Designing Curation for Student Engagement. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 2(3), 181-198.

How can curating be an authentic assessment tool or is this an inappropriate use of a digital activity?

Curation can open the door for genuine student-ownership. Students can curate research, articles, videos, images, etc. whether it is information found on the web or created by students. As students curate this information, they will reflect and share their reasoning for why the chose to add the resource. Teachers will see the learning process throughout each students curated collection. Hallet and Grindle (2019) provide an in-depth understanding of the benefits of content curation as assessment in the Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal:

In the above curation learning-cycle we can see the benefits for immediate and future impact of implementing content curation. We can also see varying ways to utilize content curation as a means of authentic assessment. We want students to engage with multiple audiences, whether that is through sharing a curated portfolio or using a curated Pinterest board to enhance a collaborative group project.

Educators can promote better learning through content curation by creating platforms with visible outputs. By using Google Sites, students can create a personal portfolio of their learning journey throughout a unit or content area. In this portfolio, students can demonstrate growth, select pieces that demonstrate their understanding of concepts, and reflect on their learning. To make the learning visible, we, as educators, need to provide students with a space to creatively assemble their curated collection. This type of creativity opens the door for a heightened sense of ownership and connectedness with student learning.

Students can also create curated lists where they collaborate with their peers in a Wakelet. Utilizing a platform that is intended to be collaborative will create a new connection to the content and information within the collection. Students can share, support, add, and critique their peers in a meaningful manner. In the end, this curated Wakelet can be used as an assessment of student understanding with a focus on the students’ reflections.

As educators, we need students to invest their time into reflecting and revamping their outputs. Students need to have opportunities to look at their collections and dwindle it down to the most relevant pieces. Students should also be able to articulate why specific pieces where chosen for their curated collection over other pieces. We want students to own their list and own their learning.

What kinds of legal and ethical issues could be an issue in curating?

Any time that students are pulling resources and information from the internet, we need to be mindful of legal and ethical issues. Most importantly, we need students to understand how to find appropriate resources and how to cite resources. We do not want students to plagiarize work or use any resources without proper permission. In elementary school, it is also important that we use platforms that are both COPPA and FERPA complaint for students to house their curated content. Most blogs and sites similar to Pinterest are not COPPA compliant and therefore, would not be ethically appropriate for students under 13 to utilize.

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