When I first began teaching 10 years ago, I taught at a poor, inner-city, parochial school with few resources. Nearly all the resources to which we had access were print resources – textbooks, workbooks, worksheets, etc. Once I set up a system of filing, it was fairly easy. Books were stacked neatly on my desk, and papers were sorted neatly in my file cabinet. Upon entering my classroom every morning, the visual presence of my desk and cabinet reminded me to look into that a book or file folder when planning my next lesson, so resources were not easily overlooked or forgotten. In addition, my classes were heavily dependent on the textbook (i.e. textbook-driven) and its accompanying resources.
Now the norm for me is digital rather than print resources. I am free to use a textbook as much or as little as I want, supplementing heavily with as many outside resources as I can lay my hands on, which is incredibly freeing. However, this poses a new set of problems when it comes to organizing the plethora of resources I now have access to in such a way that is efficient and in such a way that ensures that I actually use those resources rather than forget them.
Ask yourself these questions.
- Is your desktop cluttered with links to websites and other digital resources?
- Do you have dozens or hundreds of bookmarks on your bookmarks bar?
- Do you find yourself searching for the same online resources because you forgot how and where you saved it the first time?
- Do you save useful resources, perhaps using them once or twice, only to forget them later?
- Would you like an easy way to share resources with your colleagues other than emailing links to one another?
- When a colleague sends you a link, would you like an easy way to file it away for the future?
If you answered in the affirmative to any of the above questions, you need to consider the problem of curation. Digital curation is the preservation and maintenance of digital assets. There are lots of ways to curate your digital resources, and each person will find a system that works best for them. But you must find a system if you want to make the most of all that the Internet has to offer. The earlier you adopt such a system the better, since you will have less of a backlog to organize and curate.
As I said, everyone will prefer some form of curation over another. I know a lot of people like to use Scoop.it to “scoop” online content, but I prefer Diigo. Diigo, currently still in its beta phase, is an online curation system. You can bookmark resources, highlight digital resources, and add sticky notes to those resources. When you return to the webpage, your highlights and sticky notes remain. In addition, you can tag and make lists of your bookmarks to make for easy searching. You can share some or all of your resources with others, making it easy for groups of educators to create their own PLNs (personal learning networks). Because your bookmarks are saved to the cloud, you can access your bookmarks and annotations from any computer, an improvement over your computer’s bookmarking bar. Oh, and, there is an app for your iPhone and iPad as well. Whatever you save on your iPad using Diigo will appear on your computer. Did I mention that the basic version is FREE?
So take a look at Diigo, and see if it makes sense for you. If not, find some other curating system that does. And once you have a system, teach your students about organizing their own online content.