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  One of the current hot topics in e-learning is curation. But what exactly is curation?

Interpretation is the key word here. These institutions have substantial collections of objects and artefacts – way too much usually to put on display – so the role of the curator is to create an exhibit that combines a variety of artefacts in order that they may be interpreted in some way by the visitors. Interpretation is largely about telling stories. And not surprisingly it’s about learning so in that respect a curator is a sort of teacher.

So in the simplest terms curation is about organising, displaying and interpreting stuff. More tellingly it’s about organising, displaying and interpreting other people’s stuff.

Curation on the Web

In this post I really want to focus on curation as it applies to learning (and specifically online learning) but before we do that it’s worth exploring the current trend for digital curation on the web.

Curation is big on the web driven largely by a raft of new platforms such as Storify, and Pinterest that make it easy to collect, organise and display the articles, photos, and videos we come across while trawling the Internet.

Curation with these tools appears to be primarily about aggregation and many curators place freshness above anything else so many curated collections end up looking like the front page of newspapers. Indeed many of the platforms are purposely designed to look like magazine pages. A scoop beats old ideas hands down in the attention economy.

Learning is different to news. The important stuff is persistent. It has a long shelf-life. If you are new to e-learning then reading an article on ‘Social Learning’ isn’t going to be the best place to start your learning journey even if it is the hottest new topic. Curation applied to learning is going to be much more dependent on interpretation rather than organisation. Before our new e-learner reads about ‘Social Learning’ they should understand what an instructional designer does and why we need LMS’.

But we are all creators not curators?


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