3 things to understand about curation in learning

Part 2: What makes a good digital curator?

Posted on Oct 02, 2017

Learning strategies

In the first of part of this series on digital curation, I looked back at the origins and context for digital curation. In part two, I’m focusing on the role of the digital curator and the skills needed for the job.

What does a digital curator do?

Behind any good digital curation site or service  is a curator.  A curator uses their own subject knowledge and expertise to filter the best quality content from the information deluge and augments that content so that its relevance is clearly signposted, helping others to find and engage with useful information, knowing the quality and source of the information has been checked and the content assessed and valued.

Robert Scoble describes a digital curator as an “information chemist” who mixes atoms of web-based data and other content together in a way that constructs an information molecule. This “information chemist” adds value to that molecule of information by adding something of their own, often their perspective or opinion.

A curator also groups relevant pieces of information together, ordering and reordering the content, distributing it,  and may also supply editorial comment on collections of content.  If you think about a modern museum today, museum curators do just this with the artefacts that they display and explain to their visitors, hence lots of people link the word curation to curated collections or displays in museums.

There are now AI (Artificial Intelligence) curator services, too, such as Scredible that can offer a personalised filtering service based on the profile you give it.  However, tools like this cannot interpret and comment on the sources found, or filter the quality, or group the findings based on expertise.  Only a human curator can do that (at the moment!)

How do you recognise a good curator?

A good curator is curious and passionate about particular topic(s).  They are knowledgeable about their topic and can recognise good quality content and add value to it. 

A good curator needs to be familiar with the audience that will benefit from the content they curate, so they can keep the content collected relevant to that audience. Curation is good for copyright, in that curation encourages full transparency of source material. 

It’s perfectly possible for a curator to become increasingly knowledgeable on a subject through active curation, in the same way that you might develop knowledge by reading a lot of books on a subject.  For this reason, it is a skill well-worth developing, whatever your job role. 

In part three of this series, I’ll be explaining how digital curation works for learning and what makes for good curation.

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