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- RT @Florentina__T: The Second Coming of Ken Robinson- but he's not the messiah behaviourguru.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-se… via @TheSecretDoS 7 hours ago
- RT @anniemurphypaul: Teachers are also learners, and research on learning can help them too. A speech I gave on the subject: http://t.co/8O… 8 hours ago
- Teachers, follow @IndigenousDX and contribute your #edtech & @web20classroom smarts 4 Australian #IndigenousX solutions to systemic racism 10 hours ago
- Excellent interview with @ebrownorama by @coolcatteacher 5 Important Ingredients of Good Preservice Teacher Ed. - feedproxy.google.com/~r/CoolCatTeac… 1 day ago
- Why all teachers should be hero teachers - aliceleung.net/2013/04/13/why… Wonderfully inspirational post by @aliceleung 1 day ago
Many Education Bloggers, Tweeps and writers stress the importance of curation as an integral part of a successful PLN. I’ve previously neglected doing this formally because it seemed so difficult. I found it difficult to visualise good classification models and the process of curating appeared cumbersome. This is no longer the case as I discovered after being prompted to look into it again after reading several tweets and articles that have come through my Twitter feed in the last two weeks. A lesson for me in this is that it’s important to revisit ideas that were previously too challenging. After a bit of professional growth what was once difficult can become easy and useful. It’s important not to overburden oueselves with work practices that aren’t functioning well. A PLN is something that needs to grow. It can’t be forced.
So, what exactly is curation? For our purposes I refer specifically to Digital Curation, which is:
…the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets.
Put simply, it’s a way of storing links to valuable internet based articles and resources in an organised and useful way.
This is an important task for all of us to engage in. After all if you are anything like me, you probably spend a lot of time reading many articles and tweets that are useful to your job, whether its looking for lesson ideas, ways of improving your pedagogy, theoretical knowledge or research for pieces to write. Not all of them are what we, or perhaps other member of our PLNs need right now though.
But why waste all of the effort of reading these things if we cannot use them right now or locate them again afterwards when we or someone else DOES need them?
Twitter does function as a basic curation tool, and I’ve been increasingly trying to use it as such, but it’s not in the most reliable or organised form. It can take a long time to search through our Tweet timeline/favourites even when using the search function. Worse, when searching for something that we recall reading but didn’t retweet or favourite and therefore it’s not in our time line/favourites, the search function is very limited, because searches do not go back for more than two weeks. So even using highly targeted search terms with #hastags often doesn’t bring the results we want or need.
Our Blogs can serve as curating platforms as well. But again their utility is limited. You don’t want to fill it up with content produced by other people because it could well turn readers off checking in and reading newly published content when we do go to the effort of authoring and producing our own content. It’s also time consuming. A PLN has to be streamlined to be effective and workable. This means putting good systems of organisation and usage into place as well choosing the most appropriate technologies for your purpose and constraints.
So what other options are there? Loads. Way too many to explore here.
One of the platforms that I have experimented with recently is Storify. Unfortunately I haven’t worked out how to use it yet nor have I had the time to tinker with it enough to understand what I’m doing wrong. Which is pretty embarrassing for someone like me. These products are designed to be easy to use. However, plenty of users are raving about how good it is and I’ve seen some terrific efforts at curation. I’ll probably get onto it again soon as it looks like a wonderful platform.
It appears to be especially suitable for preserving Tweets from special events like conferences and discussions. The tweets are imported whole using an interactive clickable format and not simply as screen shots. This allows viewers to easily follow the Tweeps and look at other related tweets in the same conversation that may not have been selected for preservation. These Storify products can then be further curated using other centralised platforms. It appears to have additional curating functions that I’ll examine soon. I’ll update you when I’ve mucked around with this some more.
The other major platform that I’ve used in this round of experimentation is Diigo, which is a social bookmarking website. Put simply, this means that I can mark webpages that I’ve read and save them with Diigo and share them with my PLN and the educators generally. Not only are they there for me to find and rediscover when I need them, but anyone can search and view them. There are privacy settings so it’s possible to avoid sharing everything.
What makes this a particularly powerful and useful tool is the system of classification and organisation.
For each page that I book mark, I can assign it to a folder. Each folder is categorised according to the type of content, in my case, they are all educational, which means that Diigo users can narrow the types of results they want that may share similar tags and descriptions to items in other categories like Business. The folders have tags attached to them, allowing whole archives to turn up in search results. Each folder is named, allowing people who are interested in my links (it’s social media after all and you can create contacts and links with other users, including on a group or class basis) to browse only through the types of content that they are looking for.
Each archived link is also given a user defined description to help you remember what it’s for, although if you’re lazy the system assigns one for you (at least in the app that I’m using). You can further tag each link with relevant search terms.
It’s no use just having a random collection of great links on a subject as vast as education. Curation requires organisation.With all the pondering of issues related to my own study, praxis and writing that I’ve been doing lately, it’s become much easier to come up with good search tags and folder names. This is what has allowed me to take up the process again, and make it work for me and other members of my PLN. This turns our curation into a real cooperative venture, increasing your value to other members of your PLN and to the wider community.
It’s also possible to join working groups that focus on specific projects. I have experimented with this more social aspect yet. For schools working on cooperative projects, this is a great capability.
To make things easier, I use an app that syncs with Diigo. This means that I can easily share from my phone which is where I do most of my browsing and reading. It also allows me to save for later reading or viewing those pages which don’t load well on a handheld device. I now have a system in place that is efficient and doesn’t consume much time. These are essential aspects for a functional PLN.
I’ll write more posts on this topic as I explore different platforms, always with a focus on what’s easy to use and viable in our low bandwidth environment.
Google Reader update:
I’ve switched to using Feedly as my new RSS reader. The Android app works well, although it would be nice if I could assign the blogs to different folders based upon what the authors write about. That functionality would also allow me to separate private reading like the ranting of my favourite Ottoman Scribe on Tinfoil Turban from my professional reading. Another drawback is that when I click on the RSS icon in my browser, it opens up Google Reader, not sure if I can change the setting somewhere or what will happen once Google Reader bites the dust in the next few weeks. Another point of the plus side is that if you switch before Google Reader carks it, Feedly will sync with your Google Reader settings making the setup phase painless and with no loss of data and connections.
I’ve also been using the WordPress Reader in the Android app for WordPress blogs because it allows me to comment on and follow teaching blogs more easily than when using Feedly. This ease of commenting has allowed me to participate in one of the more important aspects of developing a PLN, mutual interaction. Many good professional relationships have started simply by regularly commenting on blogs.
As a final note, it’s relatively easy to share links to a wide range of platforms (for me that’s currently Facebook, TweetCaster and What’sApp) from both apps, and they both have PC options available.
Passive Learning and the Role of Fear in Indonesian Class Rooms
Click on the image to get a full size view of the word cloud made from the paper I will be presenting at NELTAL 2013 on Saturday March 30 2013, to be published on this blog the following day.
I discovered this excellent resource for Tweachers. It’s so good that I’m creating a permanent link to it on my blog.
It’s written by the dynamic TEFL educator Chiew Pang.
If you’re using Twitter, chances are that you are at least aware of hashtags, even if you don’t use them. And if you do use them, no doubt, you’ve sometimes felt somewhat overwhelmed and confused. Part of the problem is it’s a free-for-all concept. There’s no official body to register hashtags and everyone can use any words as hashtags, and as many as they want.
Through time, nevertheless, regular tweeps (people who tweet) tend to stick to a few they use for their own interests but still feel at a lost to what unfamiliar ones mean. Worse, for me, is the duplication of tags and the long ones, especially when abbreviation is possible. Bear in mind that each tag eats up on the 140-character limit that Twitter has!
A recent confusion on a tag was the impetus I needed to create an index, unofficial as it may be. Whether it works depends on the will of others to keep it going. It’s done on Google Doc, free for everyone to update. As long as it’s not vandalised, I’ll keep it public. My wish is that educators would start streamlining hashtags and mark unused ones as OBSOLETE or REPLACED BY… so that the community will grow even more.
What’s your opinion? Will you start using it and let others know, too?
So click on the link at the top to open his original article with links to his editable Google Doc. There are loads of English teaching and learning hashtags to explore. I’ve found that #TEFL is too full of course advertising spam so I need to search out some better ones.