One of my favorite reference books is the J. I. Rodale’s The Synonym Finder. I am forever fascinated by shades of meaning of words. Tonight, as I sit down to begin revisiting all the courses I shall be teaching a month from now —in a different time frame (70 minutes, three days a week) rather than as I have taught them the past 34 years (50 minutes, 4 days a week), I am distracted by the word curator. Among the synonyms tendered by Rodale are guardian, custodian, concierge, protector, preserver, steward, and manager.
To what degree is a professor a curator? Without doubt one role I play as a university professor is sifting through vast amounts of content, ideas, and ways of knowing and of learning about specific topics (e.g. my area of expertise, social psychology) and attempting to share with others in a coherent way what I have learned. There are myriad tools available to discover and manage digital content. I’ve recently focused on the utility of two such content curation tools identified and explained in Jane Hart’s marvelous A Practical Guide to the Top 100 tools for Learning.
Paper.li allows one to create a daily newspaper consisting of stories shared by persons followed on Facebook and Twitter and other online news sources. Therein lies both its strength and its weakness—one must carefully curate and be wary of the credibility of the sources. Still, just for fun I created a daily newspaper to follow events in Lithuania.
Scoop.it allows one to create an online magazine and discover others’ curated online magazines. To experiment with it I created an online magazine of Technology Tools for Learning. The challenge would be maintaining it (updating and adding value through thoughtful comments). Another use I made of it for my own purposes was to gather together information on Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo in preparation for his September 4 Opening Convocation talk. I’ll not share my results here before our new freshmen have a chance to read the book!