I keep hearing how curation is a skill for the modern learning professional. I rarely see effective guidance as to how to go about it. It’s a new skill; borne in the digital age, we now have the ability to access more information than we ever have before. This creates new disciplines, like curation, and a new skill set that the learning function needs to adopt. I’ve mentioned curation a few times on here and realised that I’ve not expanded on 3 skills which I mentioned in the linked blog post:
I review what I think is of interest to me on a daily basis and tweet about it regularly. I aggregate, sift and filter content which I find value in daily and send the content back out to the gracious network of people who follow and connect with me via Twitter, Linkedin and Yammer. Yet rarely do people ask me why I share particular content. Similarly, I assume a certain motivation behind the shares of others.
Aggregation isn’t just collecting everything. Try it yourself now, I’ll wait. Pick a topic which you might be asked about and Google it – there are most likely many millions of results available to you. Would you simply re-publish the top 20 results? How many of them beyond the front page of Google do you ever look at? Collecting the right sources of information, the right feeds, the most effective lines of data is a skill we don’t have yet – it takes practice. This is where the effective curator will use their Subject Matter Experts, peers, colleagues and teams to work out where they should be looking first.
Sifting is the act of identifying which content is valid for me. I do this by keeping a suite of Evernote notebooks (Google docs can work just as well). These stacks of bookmarked links, pdf and text are an instantly searchable and taggable store of information which I can access for projects I’m working on. For example, I have a stack called How 2. This stack has notebooks within it called Chrome, Android, Excel, Office, and Email. These notebooks have several hundred notes in that I can call on to assemble support by keywords on specific topics. As a result, the effective curator will have an iceberg of content – the top 10% is what people see and use, the remainder filling notebooks, file stores and directories ready to be used when required.
Filtering is about establishing the value of content and re-shaping it based on the needs of the people using it. This is the QA process of curation; people highlight the especially effective content, advice, and material and the act of amending or highlighting the resource as appropriate is filtering. This is essential to record the effectiveness of the material and to regularly refresh the material. It’s rare that once built, curated content doesn’t need to be revised. The effective curator knows when to refresh the offer to avoid it being perceived as stale or tired. It encourages the population to be critical and revisit the content regularly.
What about you? How do you curate? Let me know in the comments.