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.


New tool no. 1 – Alltop


This is the first of a series of posts to complete the activity from Module 2.3.

When I first read that I had to “identify six (6) digital tools that are: (a) new to you, i.e., they were not already part of your PLN before you began this subject; and (b) of particular interest to you in developing your PLN, or introducing knowledge networking into the curriculum” in order to “record the process of selecting, testing/trialling and evaluating of each tool as entries on your blog throughout the session” I was a little worried. I’m a serial signer-upper – pretty much everything that had been mentioned I’d already signed up for, tried out and either continued with or rejected and moved on. This was going to require a bit more digging. I’ve come up with three that I already knew a bit about (and had accounts for) but really had done nothing with – Quora, Pearltrees and Tumblr – posts on these will appear soon. Then, on my daily Medium email, I saw an article about Meerkat, a new live-streaming app for Twitter – yay! a new tool to try. I’m still looking for number 6 – all suggestions gratefully received – but luckily I chanced upon Alltop from Guy Kawasaki’s LinkedIn Behind the Scenes post on how he posts on social media. So here we go, new tool no. 1:


Alltop is not new, apparently it’s been around since 2008 but one way and another I hadn’t come across it until recently.

Alltop describes itself as providing “aggregation without aggravation”. The creators of Alltop have set about providing an answer to “What’s happening” in a topic by providing links to the five most recent articles from selected websites, blogs and other RSS feeds (such as searches). You can search for topics, browse from categories on the header or browse alphabetically. On a topicIf you see a headline that interests you, hovering over it displays the first paragraph. If you want to read more simply click the link to be taken to the site.

Alltop Digital Media News

Aggregated sites are selected by people, not algorithms, and they are open to suggestions.

You can create your own page of links from selected sites and interests. For this you need to create an account and log in. Now, next to each feeds header you will see a plus sign which is clicked to add that feed to your own page.

Once you’ve curated your own collection you can share it with others – it will have a URL similar to Alltop has gathered together My Alltop pages of “famous/cool friends“. I didn’t recognise many but was interested to see Rohit Bhargava who I referenced in my digital essay on curation last year.

Alltop has a free iPad app as well as the website. The app includes images for the five Hot Topics from any topic page and an annoying banner advertisement at the bottom (Adblock Plus Chrome extension takes care of the ads for me on my computer). Entering your username allows you to see your My Alltop on the app but you can’t add new content to it there.

Signing up

There is no option to sign in with Google, Facebook or other open ID. Simply select a username (lucky for me my favourite, hbailie, was available), enter a password and your email for verification purposes.


Alltop is a very clean looking way to view recent content on a broad range of topics. The capacity to select what you want to see on you own page is useful. I particularly like the way that hovering on a link gives the first paragraph, it makes it very easy to decide whether to view the full story or not and allows me to look over a lot of content in a short time.

Alltop would be very useful for people who have never used an RSS reader before as it makes the process of finding and adding content very simple.

Not being able to edit your content on the iPad app makes it less useful to me as I’m most likely to use it on my iPad on my daily commute.

Not all topics I’m interested in have their own page and some of the search results seem a bit random. A search for “teachers” found “Christian Church” (!); Education; English Language Teaching”; Gambling” (!?!); “Homeschooling”; “India” (?), and “Inspiration”. Hmmm.

Will I keep using it?

Probably, a bit. I have My Alltop paged linked on my Chrome bookmark bar and the app on my iPad. When I have an idle moment I might well open them up. But it won’t be every day.

Blog task 4: The three R’s: Resources, Research and Reflection

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

Since the dust has settled on the scholarly book review I have thought of little else beyond my digital essay but don’t think for a moment that that means my thinking, reading and engaging have narrowed – far from it.

My topic for the digital essay is “Curation as a tool for teaching and learning”. Starting with the resources in the module I have been gradually extending my horizons and have been rewarded with a wealth of resources. What started as something I thought a neat and contained topic, well suited to the 1800 words or so we are allowed, has broadened and deepened and I’m starting to be concerned about giving all the important stuff the attention it deserves. Just today I learned about metaliteracy, a term that I don’t think has been used in the modules (but I’m happy to stand corrected on that if I’m wrong).

Accessing information can still have its challenges. I had an interesting time getting to that particular article – it’s a nice example of the research process I’ve been following.

Last week I set up a Google Scholar alert for my topic. Yesterday an alert email came through with this link Teaching metaliteracy: a new paradigm in action.  It looked really interesting and relevant but there wasn’t any access to the full text there (and the fact it was labelled “EarlyCite” made me wonder if it was in fact published and available). Next I searched the article title and authors through Primo but didn’t have any luck. I then successfully searched for the journal title in Primo and was able, through the journal’s site, to navigate to a page where I could access the article in a PDF. As suspected this article is not officially published yet and the PDF lacks tables, illustrations and page numbers.

This same process has worked in other cases too and I’ve felt quite proud of myself when I’ve been successful in tracking down articles that at first try weren’t showing up. I guess the databases aren’t always up-to-date or complete.

I have been saving what I find to Evernote and highlighting and making notes for each article or site as I go. I was very excited to discover recently that the Table of Contents function is now available in Evernote for PC. My next step will be to start making sense of all the information I have by using table of contents notes to organise the information into sections and make linking annotations. The TOC function isn’t perfect – the links appear in the order they appear in the notebook and there’s no easy way to sort them differently – but the good thing is you can make them whenever you like, add text or delete links and rearrange everything manually.

As I’ve been researching and reading I’ve identified more and more links between my topic and other modules of Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age. In fact, as I flick back through the modules I’m viewing them differently to first time around. In particular topics like digital literacy; connected learning; information behaviour; thinking in networks; connectivism; open, social and participatory media; organising information, and narrative technology all demand another think when considered in relation to curation.

Some of the more interesting aspects of curation I’ve been reading about include: curation as a means of nurturing inclusiveness in online communities; teacher professional development through curation; how content curation is different to content marketing; the role of curation in developing digital literacy capacity, and teacher curated textbooks.

It’s a fascinating topic. I’m looking forward to learning even more over the next two weeks and I hope I can do it justice.


Witek, D. and Grettano, T. (2014) “Teaching metaliteracy: a new paradigm in action”, Reference Services Review, Vol. 42 Iss: 2

Digital essay proposal

Proposal topic

Curation as a tool for teaching and learning


As a teacher-librarian I have been curating information through the informed selection of resources for the collection since pre-digital times, although back then I would have called it “collection development” or simply “selection”. Fast forward to the development of the world wide web and the information explosion of web 2.0, and in an attempt to continue to use my selection skills to resource the curriculum I have switched my focus to the selection and sharing of online resources through a variety of curation platforms.

I’d like to develop my knowledge and understanding of the research around curation and it’s place in the development and embodiment of information and digital literacy. I want to explore how curation can be used as both a teaching tool and learning tool for students and teachers alike.

Proposed digital tools and/or spaces to be used

As this is an essay about curation I am very tempted by the aptness of using a curation platform such as or Storify to present this essay. I plan to prepare the content before making a final decision as I think the appropriate platform will become clear when I better understand what is to be presented. If a curation platform turns out to be unsuitable I will use Weebly to create a website.

250 word rationale for topic focus for the multi-modal essay

“The importance of the teacher librarian is intrinsically linked to effective and responsive information curation and dissemination in distributed environments within and beyond the school.” O’Connell (2011)

“Curation, as an approach to bringing digital and media literacy competencies into the classroom, can help build meaningful teaching and learning approaches for today’s participatory media landscape.” Mihailidis, P., & Cohen, J. N. (2013) p.15.

Moving beyond the library and the role of the teacher-librarian the essay will explore curation as a means of making sense of the information flow and how it is thus an important activity for all learners. It will explore curation in the context of information literacy, digital literacy, information fluency and open, social and participatory media, and examine activities such as peer critiquing, user-generated content, collective aggregation and community formation (Conole).

The essay will explore how curation tools and activities can be used to develop skills, competencies and dispositions outlined in documents such as The Open University Digital and Information Literacy Framework (n.d.), and examine their value for teachers and students alike. It will also examine a range of tools used for curation and compare features looking critically at their value in education.



Conole, G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media, Chapter 4. In G. Conole, Designing for learning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer.

Digital and Information Literacy Framework. (n.d.). Retrieved May 08, 2014, from

Mihailidis, P., & Cohen, J. N. (2013). Exploring curation as a core competency in digital and media literacy education. Journal of Interactive Media in Education. Retrieved 24 March 2014 from

O’Connell, J. (2011, October 27) Teacher librarians are important. [Web log post] Retrieved May 08, 2014, from