Information curation (and new tool no. 2)

flickr photo shared by verbeeldingskr8 under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) licence

Even though I wrote my digital essay for INF530 on curation I don’t see myself as an expert. The material in module 4 has covered some familiar ground, but there was still plenty that was new for me. The official title of the essay was “Curation as a tool for teaching and learning” so I do have some fairly well-formed ideas about where curation can be effective in education.

  • For teacher librarians curation is something that we’ve always done it’s just that previously we called it “selection” and “collection management”. The resources that we make available in our libraries are carefully curated content for our users. That today we should be curating digital resources using platforms like Pinterest,, Diigo and many others; adding context; providing access, and promoting them to our teachers and students is a no-brainer.
  • Creating curated textbooks: rather than rely on a single textbook (whether print or e-book) clever teachers are taking advantage of the wealth of information sources that are high quality and free (Khan academy, Google Cultural Institute, OER Commons, TEDEd to mention just a few) to curate quality, uniquely tailored and personalised resources for their students.
  • Using a curation platform like Storify to link multimedia content interspersed with original text is an excellent way for students to demonstrate their media literacy skills in analysis, evaluation and creation.
  • Students can collaborate to construct shared meaning by curating resources for a wiki or blog or through social bookmarking such as a Diigo group.

Knowingly or not I have been curating online for nearly ten years, starting with a school Delicious account for curriculum-based web links “bundled” into learning areas. This has evolved into a Diigo account where all new saved links are tweeted and collated on a weekly blog post (and also links with a specific tag to a school resource blog), to topics and Pinterest boards where new items are also shared on Twitter.

New tool no. 2 – Pearltrees (and a bit about an old one)

If memory serves me correctly I first came across Pearltrees at the same time as I discovered at a workshop run by Steve Hargadon at the State Library Victoria in 2011. grabbed my attention for its visual, magazine-style display while Pearltrees seemed trickier to make sense of so the former “won” at the time. Over the years, has become less appealing, most particularly for the greater and greater restrictions imposed on free/edu accounts. I quickly set up 6 or 7 topics while experimenting with the sorts of content that could be added. One was for the novel Of Mice and Men, being studied by our year 10 students; another charted the highs and lows of Victoria’s ill-fated learning management system the Ultranet (documented in my case report for INF536), while others were set up as resources for workshops I held at my school (Apps for productivity in education, Web 2.0 in the classroom). I had a couple more but deleted them when the maximum of five boards rule came in (and I realised that devoting a topic to a single novel wasn’t a great idea). When I worked at Red Cross in 2013 I set up another one for Disaster Resilience Education but transferred ownership of it when the project ended, thinking I’d get another board…but no, the rule now is just two topics on a free account. So I guess the point of this paragraph is that I’m less enthralled with than I once was and what a pleasant surprise Pearltrees is. So what is it?…

Pearltrees is a collaborative curation tool where you can save “pearls” – weblinks, your own photos, files and notes – and drag and drop them to organise into collections. An individual collection can have editorial text added at the top, its own background image, and the pearls can be organised into categories within the collection. Collections are public by default (private collections are only available to premium subscribers) and are automatically linked to the collections of others when they have common elements. It is visually appealing, more similar to Pinterest than

Knowledge Networks, by hbailie

Like other curation platforms, new items can be shared on various social media platforms but what I really like is that you can set up a link between Twitter and Pearltrees so that anything you tweet with a link is automatically added to Pearltrees – that is a winning feature for me. (I haven’t set up to automatically tweet new pearls yet though, because I’m worried about starting some sort of “hall of mirrors” effect where the tweet of a new pearl gets automatically added back to Pearltrees, then tweeted and added to Pearltrees ad infinitum…it wouldn’t, would it?

Other things I like:

As seen above, you can embed a collection into other platforms. This is very appealing for me as I embark on setting up Libguides for my school. Embedding Pearltrees collections looks like an easy way of adding visually appealing content to guides, certainly much more attractive than what you get from Diigo.

There doesn’t appear to be any limit to the number of collections you can have in a free account – take that,! And so far I haven’t seen any advertising, but that just might Adblock Pro at work.

Pearltrees is definitely a tool I am going to keep using, thank you INF532 for making me give it another look.


Social bookmarking

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by langwitches

I’ve been a social bookmarker since early 2007 when I set up a Delicious account. The following year I was participating in a blogging challenge and when requested to “Find a new toy” I joined Diigo but maintained my Delicious account by auto-saving from Diigo (which seems to have mysteriously stopped happening about six months ago, lucky I wasn’t relying on it).

Quite apart from the convenience of having your bookmarks accessible from any internet connected device, social bookmarking develops a range of skills as shown in the illustration above.

What I do with Diigo:

  • Save bookmarks for me. I use the Chrome browser extension on desktop/laptop computers and the Diigo app on my iPad and phone.
  • Use tags as effectively as I can. The librarian in me endeavours to be consistent with tagging. I don’t hold back with how many I use but I like to keep to a consistent format. eg putting multi-word tags in quote marks rather than use hyphens or underscores to prevent each word being treated as an individual tag. I try not to use capital letters except for proper names.
  • Auto-tweet new public bookmarks (via IFTTT) as a means to share and also to acknowledge that I’ve seen something someone I know has published.
  • Save bookmarks to share with groups. I’ve joined the group for this subject, as well as various other educational groups, and I’ve created groups. I get daily or weekly update emails from the groups I belong to which is a great way of keeping up. I’ve often thought that the ability to have a discussion about a bookmark within a group should be very useful but I haven’t been able to engage the members of the groups I’ve created in this way and I’ve only infrequently seen it used effectively in other groups.
  • Save bookmarks to auto-post to two different blogs. One is a resource for teachers at my school – anything tagged KDSBytes gets posted daily as “Worth a read [date]”; while those tagged KDSiPad post as “iPad news and views [date]”. Everything I bookmark (except those marked private) get posted as “New and interesting links (weekly)” on my personal blog.
  • Use lists. I used bundles extensively with Delicious until they disappeared (although it seems they’re back), lately I’ve started trying to make lists work for me in the same way.
  • I’ve recently set up a Diigo account at my new school although it is still very much a work in progress – I’m looking forward to having LibGuides next year so we have an online presence from where we can provide access. I will be using lists to organise the bookmarks into curriculum areas.
  • Occasionally use the highlighting feature.
  • I have registered as an educator which gives some premium features for free – well worth doing!
  • I haven’t explored using Diigo with students although I’ve read about it being successfully used. I think social bookmarking is part of being digitally literate.