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Desert Island Tech: Content Curation

Content curation is changing the way we interact with the internet. As the sheer volume of stuff on the internet continues to grow exponentially, instead of experiencing content directly via the original source, we are increasingly encountering content via retweets, reblogs, buzzfeed lists, shares, likes, pins and scoops. There are fairly obvious reasons for this – instead of seeking out new content, we follow people who have similar interests to us, thus increasing the likelihood of stumbling upon content that appeals to us. This is a blessing and a curse. The rise of curated content can simultaneously narrow our experience of the web as we box ourselves in by following others like us, as well as expose us to material that we are unlikely to have discovered on our own. Content has become viral.

This has a number of interesting side effects for teachers. It enables the use of cheap and lazy (but sometimes effective) gags for students like cat memes to teach essay structure, but it also means that a number of very good content curation tools have become available to us – and they are very, very valuable for outsourcing the management of resources to students.

I am going to give you an example of how I have used the content curation tool to enhance outcomes for my students and save time.

[Side note: A few years ago I used all of the time to store online resources for lessons (videos for PSHE, resources for a video game development club), but recently they have started to really lose the race for good curation tools by offering a freemium service. This example would work just as well (maybe better) using a tool like Pinterest, or even twitter.]

While I was teaching AS Media Studies this year, I finally managed to deal with a persistent problem that we as a department had had for years. One of the units involved researching and analysing film openings, and we had to maintain a bank of film openings that was relevant and current – meaning recent films, and clips that had not been removed from youtube or similar for copyright violations. This created a very large administrative burden on the teachers. The time cost was very high, because collecting a bank of youtube videos is outside of competency. That curation process can, and should, be done by students because it is an activity that will enhance their knowledge of film openings.

I created a departmental pinboard, and asked students to collect and annotate (via the description box) five film openings. They were expected to identify at least one interesting feature of the opening in order to justify its inclusion in the resource bank. The next step is the most important one. Once we had a board with a number of film openings on it, the students trawled through it, looking at each other’s film openings and expanding the analysis offered via the comments. Now we have a resource bank that can be added to and filtered and updated for years to come. This is a good technique for any kind of digital resource curation – not just videos.

Have you used or similar in your practice?

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