Are you the education technology curator for your organisation? #curation

@hansdezwart and @catspyjamasnzIn December I had the pleasure of visiting the The Hague headquarters of Shell, courtesy of @hansdezwart, their Innovation Manager for Global Learning Technologies. After a long Twitter “courtship”, we finally met IRL at Online Educa in Berlin (#oeb11) and found we indeed had lots of shared interests. One of the things I wanted to know more about was his use of Yammer to improve team connections and collaborations. I was lucky enough to have a personal demonstration and discussion, but you can read all about his Narrating Your Work project on Hans’ blog.

As we were talking, we hit upon an activity we both do, that is not strictly part of our job but seems to have evolved naturally. We both work in roles that connect us to many different colleagues, within our teams, across our organisation, and in similar positions in other organisations. We also both have a widespread personal learning network (PLN), that is,  we are connected to many education technology experts and information sources, outside our organisation through various social media tools. The Conversation Prism diagram below created by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas demonstrates how some of those social media tools are used to ‘listen and share’.
The Conversation Prism - 1900px

In our discussion, Hans described how he used to send people links he had found through his PLN via email. He had now started sharing those links via Yammer, tagging all of them with a #share tag. And that triggered something for me. I’d been doing the same at EIT in my 5 years there as e-learning advisor. Monitoring my Personal Learning Network which has a heavy education technology focus, and then sharing useful, pertinent and timely resources I found through various channels. Many, many an email to a teacher was sent at 11.30pm as I hit upon a gem shared through Twitter by a colleague from Europe who was just getting to the office, along the lines of “Hey so-and-so, I think this link on yadayada might be of interest to you as we work on your blahblah course”.

All sorts of ed tech info
And it didn’t just stop with course specific information. I’d also share links on pedagogical strategies with teachers and on how higher education organisations use social media with our Marketing department. If I found an edtech link on higher management decision making for education technology, I would send it to one of our deans, or our Director of Academic & Student Services. If I found a resource on iPads in the library, I’d send it to our inestimable library manager, Diane Friis. And so on. The sharing I was doing was topic specific (education technology) but not limited to my role, or level in the organisation.

Other sharing channels
In some cases, larger projects, I was working on I would try other sharing channels and also getting the other project team members (teachers, administrative support and their managers) to contribute. For example, I’d create a Delicious tag and /or a workspace for all of us to use and share resources in. Typically this workspace would be a Moodle course for all teachers collaborating on the programme design, including a forum for sharing, or with ability for every one to add links to the course page. I wish I could say that these other sharing channels had been tremendously successful, but they weren’t. I can hypothesise several reasons:

  1. these Moodle workspaces and Delicious tags just aren’t part of most teachers and academic managers’ work/life streams, and that is because
  2. ‘Surfing the web’ for resources, tips and ideas is still seen as time wasting rather than time saving in most educational organisations.
  3. As a consequence, most teachers and academic managers don’t have many or substantial incoming information streams, so they just don’t find that many treasures to share in turn. As a result traffic in a Moodle forum/workspace is low and so it becomes an easy stream or avenue to forget.

So I continued being a lone sharer and sharing in the stream most people do check: their email.

This is digital curation
The activity I’ve just described, that Hans and I were engaged in for our organisations, is digital curation. Us education technologists have probably been acting as digital curators for our organisations around the e-learning and education technology topics for longer than we realise. If you’re an edtech who recognises this, I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts.

  • What tools have you used?
  • How long have you been doing this? How long have you consciously been doing this?
  • What processes have you used?
  • How efficient would you say this was?
  • Are your digital curation activities and results warmly received or less appreciated?
  • And should this curation activity be seen as part of our role? And of other roles in the organisation?
  • What would happen to your organisation if that was the case?


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11 thoughts on “Are you the education technology curator for your organisation? #curation

  1. Yes! My PLN is almost solely Twitter based and I did as you and would post links on Twitter that I found interesting, relevant and timely. The trouble was that as far as my colleagues at school were concerned they couldn’t hear me because they weren’t on Twitter. About a year ago I decided to include them as much as possible. If they weren’t on Twitter how could I get to them? Easy. Facebook. About 80% of my colleagues had Facebook accounts and were on my friends list. I started cross posting elearning, pedagogy, goverment policy and other educational resources to Facebook. It’s still overwhelmingly a one way conversation, but occasionally a colleague will ‘like’ a link that I’ve posted or even say face to face at school how they appreciated a particular link or article.

    Chip, chip, chip… It’s a big wall to break through.

  2. This post clearly resonates with what I’ve been doing since, say, 2004. As then-coordinator for HS online courses, I had discovered the power of digital tools and systems that sharply brought me to question my thoughts on learning. Wanting to share links, posts, etc. on ed tech issues with colleagues, teachers and others, I took up blogging (which I still consider being a centerpiece in my digital curation adventure). This remained a ‘marginal’ part of my professional activities. Blogging (except for a few loyal readers who read my posts) was mainly a way for me to organize my thoughts, a reflective process. With Bloglines, I could count on a great flow of RSS feeds, helping me as much as possible to stay current in ed tech, notably.

    Then came social media. I hesitantly signed up to Twitter in 2008, but over the next months, its ‘organic’ attribute permitted me to develop an interesting PLN. Never looked back since. By the same token, Delicious (then Diigo in 2009) enabled me to save, organize (I use ‘lists’ a lot) and share good links. For video, Vodpod has been an excellent curation tool. In 2011, web curation just got bigger for me as I started a couple of topics.

    But who was listening? How did IRL colleagues react, if they did? The simple answer is : an audience developed once social media was more mainstream. Since 2010, people from my education community here in NB (Canada) have been signing up; I’ve been invited to give workshops to teachers, admin and students but each time, I walk out ‘impressed’ by how most of them (including students) do not see more value to social media than the typical chit-chat, ‘likes’, posting pics,etc. that characterizes Facebook, where most are now. Digital footprint and personal e-reputation are very popular topics (and that’s a good thing, right?). Educators are just starting to see and realize the true pedagogical value of digital for learning, and not just for a distance learning setting, but F2F also). Over the last 6 months (where I’ve moved on to other edu fields, now with Community colleges), there is an increasing curiosity and demand for ways to integrate digital in lesson plans, in other ways for PD, etc. We haven’t reached a tipping point but, as Michael said, we are chipping away at the wall.

    Personally, I see digital curation as a moving beacon. The key is to keep rowing towards it. Rowing together makes us all move faster in the right direction.

    Thank you for a great post!

  3. […] post by Joyce Seitzinger (@catspyjamasnz), entitled “Are you the education technology curator for your organization? #curation“, clearly resonates with what I’ve been doing since, say, 2004.  As then-coordinator […]

  4. Prabhas says:

    Thanks for giving a name to the work I give my time disproporsonate of the audience I get. I am a new educational technology curator. I use facebook as most of my readers are there only.

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  7. Caitlin Crowley says:

    I too have been sharing interesting articles, research and information with my colleagues via email. I set up a professional development area on the staff portal and posted links there but other educators didn’t seem to visit it regularly and wanted the information sent to them directly – they would often read information if I posted it as an announcement on the staff portal so it was on their front page. I am thinking of actually pulling all this information together and packaging it up in moodle as a professional development session. For example for the tourism/hospitality/events department drawing together information (articles, research, stats, video etc) about emerging trends in the industry and putting it into a 3 hour session with a shared wiki for sharing information and an online assignment where educators can reflect on how this information can be linked and used in specific training units. It can then count towards their professional development hours and they can immerse themselves in all this information without it being seen as “wasting time surfing the web”. If anyone is already doing this I would be keen to hear how it’s going.

  8. Amir Elion says:

    Hi Joyce,
    First of all, thank you for this well-written post which summarizes and highlights important changes in learning professionals’ work and questions which we should be asking ourselves.
    I have also had the fortune of knowing Hans (only virtually so far). I participated in an eye-opening experience he initiated where 20 people had a digital book reading group, on the Learning in 3d book, sharing insights, links, ideas while using tools such as twitter, blogging, delicious tagging, weekly conference call and even a group game at Quake. I love what Hans is doing, his innovative thinking and his sharing.
    I do believe curation should indeed be a part of not just a learning professional’s job but actually of all in the workplace – “experts” and “novices” alike. However I agree that not all people are used or prepared for such sharing – not in their mindset nor in some basic skills on use of the tools.
    I have been using various tools for similar things – twitter (including a monthly Hebrew twitter chat on learning similar to #lrnchat I am trying to establish as a tradition), LinkedIn groups, Facebook, my wordpress blog and more.
    As for Moodle (and Totara – the moodle distribution feared for organizations) I did have a few chances to see it used well for curation. As a training manager at Motorola, we had some good resources shared on it. Now, at Kineo Israel, I see and help our clients do similar things. Useful tools are not just forums but also the very powerful Database activity, glossary – both can be set up to allowing content sharing and curation.
    There are ways to support the success and promote participation in these. The first would be having information there which is relevant to support their work (that indeed requires quality curation). One good approach is to enlist experts and champions to lead and contribute content in a specific area of their interest.
    The choice of the right tool that is also comfortable for people to use is also important. In the initial stages I found that people need some explanations and help overcoming technical and psychological barriers until they feel comfortable with the tool. Make sure you provide that help in form of post, short screencasts, tips, etc.
    I have recently posted on my blog (in Hebrew on the 70:20:10 learning model and how you can use various tools (on moodle and totara) to implement it. Curation is a significant part of that.

  9. […] Are you the education technology curator for your organisation? #curation » Cat’s Pyjamas […]

  10. Penny says:

    Ha! Yes, I’ve been doing this too.

    What tools have you used?
    To share with others? a mix of email, sharing to Ning and latterly Yammer. Most people still only check email.
    How long have you been doing this? How long have you consciously been doing this?
    Probably since I started back at work after maternity leave before I was in the role I’m in now. Consciously? Dunno, maybe the last 12 months.
    What processes have you used?
    Mainly just picking up on things I’ve read from PLN on twitter and blogs
    How efficient would you say this was?
    not very!
    Are your digital curation activities and results warmly received or less appreciated?
    for the most part yes.
    And should this curation activity be seen as part of our role? And of other roles in the organisation?
    Initially I would have said no, but my current role does actually have an element of “upskilling other people” so I’d say now it is.
    What would happen to your organisation if that was the case?
    We might see more people with better knowledge – at least I’d hope that would be the case.

  11. Connie says:

    Hello There!
    I totally appreciate your blog on Are you the education technology curator for your organisation? #curation

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