Digital Content Curation

We run across excellent online content all the time. Instructional designers are always finding new tools and applications that would be of interest to faculty and course designers. Librarians also frequently have a wealth of information on systems that would benefit those involved in developing and teaching online courses. Plus, every member of a department encounters tools that others would find helpful in teaching their courses and material in their subject that would interest their colleagues and help students research topics for class.

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We run across excellent online content all the time. Instructional designers are always finding new tools and applications that would be of interest to faculty and course designers. Librarians also frequently have a wealth of information on systems that would benefit those involved in developing and teaching online courses. Plus, every member of a department encounters tools that others would find helpful in teaching their courses and material in their subject that would interest their colleagues and help students research topics for class. But most people keep this content to themselves. Digital content repositories are a great way to share your finds with others. Below are two good tools for curating digital content online. These tools were chosen because they are available on multiple platforms, including Apple iOS and Android. They also allow collaboration. You can invite contributors, allow departments to work together, or perhaps utilize them for group projects for students. Both of these tools have browser buttons for utilization when on the Web as well. If a contributor finds content of interest, he or she simply clicks the browser button and the content will be shared automatically, allowing quicker and easier content curation. These tools do more than just provide a list of links; they also make the content more graphical, allowing users to decide what they want to read based on visuals rather than just words. Flipboard (https://flipboard.com) is touted as a digital personalized news magazine that allows you to create a magazine not only for your own personal use but also for curating content for others. Flipboard only allows the curation of online content such as articles, blog posts, and tweets, making it a great choice for curating content on current issues. As you add new content, Flipboard reorganizes the information with the most recent content first, but it does allow editing that lets you organize or even delete articles as needed. Flipboard's visually appealing style of presentation and organization gives users a new look and feel that might be different from a generic list of links or a wiki. When used on a computer, Flipboard is displayed like a blog, but on a mobile device the user is able to swipe pages as if reading a digital magazine. This trendier and techie look may make the users more likely to scroll through and read more content and even have them coming back for more as you add more pertinent content. Follow this link to see an example of a Flipboard magazine on educational technology: http://flip.it/Vd4bv. Flipboard is also great for personal use. Users can add their own social media accounts to their Flipboard magazine, turning their Facebook and Twitter accounts into a visually appealing digital magazine. This tool also allows you to search by topic and find other content feeds to follow, allowing you to completely customize your experience. This type of customization can also lead to easier content curation, as you can choose to share any information you find in your own Flipboard magazine or on other social media platforms. Pearltrees (www.pearltrees.com) is different from Flipboard in that you can share many different types of information. This tool allows you to share Web pages, photos, PDFs, PowerPoints, and much more. One great perk of this tool is that when you share content like file attachments, the user can view the content in Pearltrees. There is no need to open another program or window. Since Pearltrees allows the attaching of files, it is not only useful for content curation but can also be utilized for group projects. Pearltrees also allows notes, which allows users to type notes or information within their Pearltrees bundles to help explain something or to give direction to group members for next steps in the project. Pearltrees organizes information in bundles, or trees, that can branch out into other areas. For example, a Pearltree about iPad apps can have multiple bundles under it, like productivity and weather apps; see the example found at http://tinyurl.com/oglkuzo. This tool allows you to search other users' trees by topic and then subscribe to them or add the content to your own collection. As you continue to follow others and curate your own content, the bundles become interconnected, allowing a community of content curators to share content on similar interests. In effect, other Pearltrees users are helping you curate content as they add to their own collections to which you subscribe. Anyone can be a curator by helping students, colleagues, and even one's self find the right information on just the right topic. Lisa Crawford-Craft is the library director at the K-State Salina Library.