Curate the Web

As the start of the school year rapidly approaches, one thing you might want to consider is planning for how your students will access online materials.  In the past many of us have used our classroom website, blog, or wiki.  Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those methods, we now have a great deal of tools that can help teachers to curate online content.

graphic depicting the idea of selecting and sharing links

Web curation tools make sharing links with our students a snap, ensuring that our students can quickly access relevant resources. It seems that time is always of the essence, so providing students with the links they need to complete their task is a huge timesaver.  Curation tools also allow teachers to preview sites to ensure they are classroom friendly, free of unwanted ads or pop-ups, not blocked by the school server, do not require downloads or software updates, and any other condition that makes students accessing online content challenging.  Curation tools can also provide teachers with an easy way to differentiate resources for individual students.  Teachers can provide resources for the same content presented in various methods (i.e. video, audio, interactive, etc.), or at different reading levels to make it easier for students with differing skills be able to understand the message the teacher is trying to convey

Curation tools are not just for teachers!  Students today are inundated with information, so one of the most important 21st century skills will be for students to learn the art of accessing and evaluating information then use and manage that information.  Putting web curation tools in the hands of your students forces them to use critical thinking skills to determine if the online resources they have located fit the criteria for selecting relevant resources.  Curation tools also require students to consider how to manage the resources once they have located them.  Setting aside time for students to curate online resources, also helps to improve students search skills, and provides opportunities for mini lessons and individualized instruction on sorting through the over abundance of online content.

There are many excellent tools to choose from, so I have selected my top 8 web curation tools to share with you today.  Hopefully you will find many useful tools for you and your students.

 

Jen Foster is an eMINTS Instructional Specialist and authorized Google Education Trainer. 

Tuesday’s Tool: I Published My Own Newspaper

Ok, I am probably pushing it just a bit when I say “I published My Own Newspaper”. What I should say is that paper.li created a “newspaper” based on the people that I follow on Twitter and what they have recently tweeted. It took only a few minutes after I logged in using my Twitter account.

The HigginsB Daily

When I open my Paper.li newspaper, The HigginsB Daily, I can easily scan the front page and see headlines from the day. Each “article” is  based on the information my PLN is interested in that they have shared on Twitter. With one click, I can be reading the web content shared by the people I follow. Every article includes a small image and the username of the person that submitted that tweet so that I know who the information was shared by. The paper also includes a hashtag (#), photos, and multimedia sections and my running Twitter feed.

Paper.li is a web 2.0 tool that “organizes links shared on Twitter and Facebook into an easy to read newspaper-style format.” There is another website, The Tweeted Times, that creates a personalized newspaper in the same way but what makes Paper.li so nice is how it organizes and categorizes the content.

Cool features: users can read anyone’s Paper.li newspaper from anyone that has created one or they can create a paper based on other Twitter or Facebook users. Paper.li newspapers can be set to update daily or even more frequently depending on user preferences, and Paper.li sends an email each day letting users know that there is new news to read.

Some downsides: there is a bit of advertising. The people at Paper.li have to get paid somehow :). Also, Paper.li can’t filter the content on the page since they are simply aggregating content based on who the user follows. Depending on what PLN members share, there may be some questionable content. Users should test the site before using it with students.

Teachers, classrooms or individual students could create their own newspapers daily, weekly, or whenever and stay up to date with current events based on the “news” from their PLN.

OwlDesk on YouTube has a video, Social Media Tool: PaperLi, that quickly overviews how the tool works.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.