Thursday, August 23, 2012

Modern Curation: How Does it Change Teaching?

Note: This is cross posted at Smarblog on Education.

“The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.” — John Dewey

Rewind: The old way of curation
In the past, curating resources was relatively easy. Teachers, known fondly to their family and friends as pack rats, filed and saved just about every piece of paper they could find. They crammed worksheets and memos into color-coded files near the back of the classroom.

During my student teaching, there was a teacher who planned to retire in June. I distinctly remember the day she “gave me her files.” This seemed like such a boon! I greedily carried boxes and boxes of endless science articles, ancient TIME magazines and edHelper worksheets to my car. At the time, I thought there was nothing more valuable in the world.
Such collections of valuable resources were not readily available at that time. Teachers were zealous about their materials, and they were even more zealous in protecting them. Therefore, the act of curation in the past was largely individual. (As was the act of teaching in the past. But that’s a different blog post!)

Teachers were left to their own devices to find, aggregate and retain meaningful resources about their practice. This led to overstuffed classrooms with teachers who were constantly wondering,

“Where did I put THAT?”

While the old ways of curation still hold their value, they are far less likely to provide you with a thorough, interactive system for personalized learning. Opening your eyes to the new ways of curation can greatly enhance the tools, tips and strategies at your fingertips.

Fast forward: Modern curation
Today’s curation is completely different. Most importantly, it is highly social. Teachers can share their collections with each other effortlessly, making the quality and quantity of resources available to new teachers and new curators much more robust than in the past.

Tools such as Pinterest, Pearltrees, Twitter and Diigo allow educators to work together to aggregate and share resources. (Check out this example of my favorite videos to use when coaching teachers via my Pinterest board.) While this process still requires a significant time investment, the results are much more powerful, interactive and complete. Also, collections are searchable so you never “lose” anything! As teachers identify, evaluate and organize their resources digitally, they not only make meaning of their lessons, but also enable others to benefit from their hard work. Digital curation invites collaboration that is more powerful than ever before. In essence, we are better together!

What does modern curation mean for teaching?
Modern, digital curation offers teachers a way to share and communicate beyond their individual classrooms, schools and districts. It helps teachers find resources that will meet students “where they are” in today’s “plugged in” society. It also promotes the virtual teamwork that we must model for students, as it is one of the most critical skills our students can learn.

So, if you know a pre-service teacher, ditch the boxes of National Geographic. Instead, share a Pearltree, tweet or Pinterest board!


  1. We walk towards an other new age of education, teachers and students should be in.

  2. This speaks to the teaching tool that we use with our students all the time: if they discover it, they will learn it and remember it. The same with PD. If we discover the information , instead of being presented the information, then we will remember it and are more likely to use it.

  3. The Curation process in the digital age has been made acquiring ideas so much easier and faster!! We are no longer limited to our own materials and ideas!

  4. I agree with the idea of curation! I am always checking places like Pinterest or researching online to see how other teacher out there are teaching curriculum and thinking of out-of-the-box ways to help engage students in successful learning.

  5. As an English teacher, modern curation offers an abundant supply of resources from highly effective teachers to be used at my disposal. Instead of working against one another, it is vital to collaborate lessons, views, teaching practices, and instructional techniques as much as possible. This style of curation will progresively enhance our engaging activities for our students. Thus, this will also create a successful learning environment for all.

  6. I definitely agree that curation has transformed in the way Kristen Swanson described. I am so thankful to begin my teaching career in the digital age. When I am in need of new materials the first place I go is the internet. The sites I typically use are Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers, which are both full of valuable resources offered up by fellow curators!

  7. Sarah ZettlemoyerMay 19, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    I definitely agree that modern curation has changed the way
    we as teachers organize our thoughts and activities that we do with our
    students. I had to laugh as I continued to read the article and it stated,
    "Tools such as Pinterest, Pearltrees, Twitter and Diigo allow educators to
    work together to aggregate and share resources." I myself utilize
    Pinterest and teachers pay teachers to gather resources and or get ideas to
    help better myself.

  8. Melissa BrindisiMay 26, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    I totally agree with this article. Modern curation allows us as teacher to access more information and resources than ever possible before. Using technology is easier and produces thousands of potential resources in a fraction of the time it used to take!

  9. Even though I'm 51, I didn't start teaching until about 8 years ago. I have only ever been a Modern Curator. I really don't know how to do it the old way!

  10. I agree with this article! Modern curation has definitely changed the way we teach today! Being connected through the internet has made teaching better in my opinion.

  11. I definitely agree with this article. And being an long time teacher it described me in a lot of ways. I am transforming into this digital world in some areas faster and others at a snail's pace. I apprecite how I am being 'stretched' already. I see the internet as a valuable resource! It's true I didn't have it when I first being my career in education!

  12. When I first signed up for Pinterest, I felt like an online curator. As a lover of the boxes of paper (and also a brand new teacher), it's hard for me to give up my physical methods of organization in favor of digital ones. It's difficult, but a necessary process. Now we just need districts to stop blocking Pinterest so teachers can actually put it to use when they need it most!

  13. Teaching, like learning has become more of a social activity. And with the abundance of material and resources to us at the click of a mouse it is impossible to navigate this alone. The idea of having to not reinvent the wheel in teaching is about working more efficiently/smarter than harder.

  14. This generation of students all teachers need to update their plans and lessons. Kids attention span has lowered and fast flash learning is what keeps kids attention.

  15. I would not be able to survive today with the old "file drawer" curation methods! I do save a ton of useful resources for myself and to share with others. Teachers today must be good data & resource managers to save time!

  16. With the attention span of our children today and the way in which they learn, we would not have enough file drawers or closets within our buildings to hold the necessary materials to be effective educators. The new digital curation is one that is vital to gather and share information to not only benefit us as individuals, but our fellow colleagues and most importantly our children!

  17. Pinterest is a great resource for me.. I am only a step away from a hoarder of materials and ideas... although, it has been a slow transition from paper to digital. With one foot in the 'old world' I still have a tough time relinquishing my hand held materials.

  18. I am completely new to modern curation, only having joined Pinterest a couple of months ago. So far, I've only "looked". I thinking using it as a platform for storing & sharing resources will be quite useful in my delivery of professional development. That's not to say I'll rid my file cabinets of current contents.

  19. The benefit of having all of your resources at your fingertips enables us more time to focus on the material we are teaching



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