Saturday, March 24, 2012

Curation and Online Teaching


I spent 25 years in classroom as a die hard computer using k-12 teacher. A decade ago I morphed into an online teacher in the privileged position of teaching other teachers how to teach online.

From the very beginning my teaching has been about gathering and sharing information. As one who teaches inside a computer, I'm dedicated to sharing how to find, categorize and distribute information. As a long time user of social bookmarking sites like Diigo and Delicious. These great social sites help me to save a road-map of my reading.  Lately, however my attention and passion has turned to Curation using the graphically interesting and very well designed curation tool Scoop.it.

I've built three Scoop.it digital magazines that I use in my online classes:

E-Learning and Online Teaching
21st Century Information Fluency
6-Traits Resources

Scoop it provides a rich search field for my subjects of interest.  I can search and subscribe to the work of other curators. I can easily 're-scoop' articles that fit my needs. I also troll for information on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and many blogs. When I find an article that fits the needs of my students I use the handy Curation Widget to capture a summary of the article.  If I'm being disciplined I also apply tags (keywords) to the articles that will help me when I'm teaching my classes.

Let me use my E-Learning Magazine as an example of the power of tagging.  I follow (and encourage my students to become aware of) the predictions published by Educause via the Horizon 2011 report.  The trends and technologies they predict to be the most important over the next five years are.  Here are the articles I've tagged on each Horizon 2011 topic:

Learning Analytics:  http://www.scoop.it/t/e-learning-and-online-teaching?tag=analytics
Augmented Reality: http://www.scoop.it/t/e-learning-and-online-teaching?tag=augmented-reality
Games and Gaming: http://www.scoop.it/t/e-learning-and-online-teaching?tag=games
Mobile Learning: http://www.scoop.it/t/e-learning-and-online-teaching?tag=mobile
Touch and Gesture Computing: http://www.scoop.it/t/e-learning-and-online-teaching?tag=gesture-based

By tagging articles that address these topics I can quickly generate specialized pages that serve up all articles carrying a specific tab.  This means I can quickly reply to student questions with a preselected listing of current information.

As a teacher and learner, the act of curating has become an essential part of my personal learning network and ongoing professional development. By reading, evaluating, and categorizing articles from my field of interest I'm able to stay up with current developments and to better imagine what is coming in the rapidly changing fields I'm fascinated by. In many ways I'm supercharging my imagination to feed my critical and creative thinking.  It's a recursive loop of reading and sharing that keeps me both engaged an fascinated.

The Scoop.it platform has some additional advantages that attract me.  As the program advisor for the E-Learning and Online Teaching Graduate Certificate Program at University of Wisconsin Stout, I am responsible for marketing our courses.  Scoop.it provides me with a dashboard of re-publication options that I use to contact all of my social networking sites.  Once I've Scooped an article, I'm just a few clicks away from sending the articles and my comments to my Facebook Page, Google+ Stream, Pinterest Pages, Twitter stream, Tumblr Blog, Wordpress Blog, and Stumble Account.  The system gives me a one stop shop for the social media communications I need to keep my program scoring high in the search indexes.

Can you tell I'm a Scoop.it fan?  It's true. I've been with them since start up and find the entrepreneurs behind the site to be thoughtful and responsive to suggestions.  The seem to be adding new features every month.

If you are passionate about a topic, if you teach in an online, blended, or flipped setting I recommend you start today to build a Scoop.it archive of carefully tagged articles. If you'd like to stay notified about my work, just click Follow on any of my Scoop.it pages! You'll be glad you did!

See you online!   ~ Dennis O'Connor