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Week 2: Responsibilities as Educators

Here are some optional questions to help us focus on this area of interest. Please share your thoughts about all or any of these questions :  

Option 1
Thinking about your role as a parent, guardian and/or teacher working with young people what kind of obligations do you believe you have to to help them curate and create and digital identity?

Option 2
If you work with adult learners what kind of obligations do you think you have to help them curate their digital identity?

Option 3
How do you go about ensuring that learners develop curation competencies? Do you have any resources that you could share with other participants? Has anyone developed a rubic for this area?

Task Discussion

  • Tellio   July 15, 2012, 1:07 p.m.

    Option 1
    Thinking about your role as teacher working with young people what kind of obligations do you believe you have to to help them curate and create and digital identity?

    I had my first opportunity to do this on a 1-to-1 basis this past spring as I worked with an intern teaching her how to blog using our department's English Majors' Weblog.  Her job was to create an identity for the blog beyond that of silo.  Silos are fine as far as the go, but we decided together that was not far enough. I helped her understand the nuts and bolts of using a WordPress blog and gave her some tools for helping gather info, then I stood back to allow her room to create the blog's identity and her own identity as its 'owner'.

    I responded to questions on a daily basis.  We set realistic goals together, and within two weeks she decided that the role she wanted was that of 'hub' to the many 'spokes' that represent what it means to be an English major.  The curation tools needed to do that included the standard ones you might imagine: email listservs, email distribution lists, personal connections to others who know what you are trying to do. She created other spokes like a Facebook page which she connected to our Creative Writing Department's Facebook page.  She connected us to Twitter and then figured out how to add widgets to our weblog that would  automate both FB and Twitter to show on that page. I showed her how to use Google Analytics on our weblog so that she had ways to begin to see how her 'curations' affected audience.

    She created a new identity for the weblog and she did it mostly herself with some very hands off suggestions as to what other tools she might use and where she might find more ideas. It was a grand semester, that it was.  

    That obligation extends to my emphasis in the classroom for appropriate tools gathering information (Diigo and Zotero), making sense (writing texts, talking about texts, close reading together using ExplainEverything, collaborative work with Google Forms) and sharing (Presentation styles like pechakucha, instructables, and ignite as well as YouTube, Prezi and lots of others that I model for them during the semester).

    There is the danger at every step of avoiding a feedback loop. Venkatesh Rao puts it very succintly, "Sometimes acquiring a skill can make you see things you didn’t see before. When you have a hammer in your hand, everything looks like a nail. On the other hand, if you can’t see nails, all you see is opportunities to make better hammers."

    We want our learners to be able to both see nails and use hammers.  Often when tools afford new ways, we get obsessed with the design of the hammers. We have a duty to help our students see the nails and to grow the mastery that enables them to hammer the bastards down without bending too many of them over.

  • Chad Sansing   July 15, 2012, 8:35 a.m.

    I think less about "teaching" my kids to curate and more about learning how my kids already curate. I try to suggest additions to their learning an curating sets - I'm not sure any kid arrives needing me to tell him or her how to organize his or her life better. (That sounds ridiculous on the surface, I know, but I find it difficult to impose teaching humanely - in a lasting way - on those who do not want it.) I find curation to be personal, idiosyncratic, and developing over time in the curator and between the curator and audience. It's better, in my mind, to answer a kid's question about how to find or record something than it is to curate tools for curation and to teach them. I like to wait for kids to bring inquiry and meaning to curating conversations, but I do worry about kids who short-circuit their learning - kids who don't trust themselves to find and learn a lot about novel things that interest them. There might be an obligation or opportunity there to teach some curating codes the same way some argue that we should teach rigid academic-looking writing codes to kids who struggle to pass writing tests.

  • Tellio   July 15, 2012, 12:18 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Chad Sansing   July 15, 2012, 8:35 a.m.

     I agree that our students come to us with a unique identity.  The combination of ways they seek answers, the ways they seek meaning, and the ways they share with others is also unique.  But there are 'moves' we can show them when they are ready.  Many of them are very old and accepted while others are novel even iconoclastic and subversive.  We can help them best within the context of the questions that  mean the most to them. 

    It is as if there are two streams (let's just stipulate for the purposes here that there are only two, I know this is a simplification) of action in any young learner, one that strives for identity and separation from adult norms while connecting with peer norms and another that seeks admission into an adult world much of which they either have no clue about or which they are probably too well aware.   I think we can serve both.  We can respect their moves and we can show them others as well.  There are many institutional imperatives that make this at best an exercise in realpolitik, but we can make the effort.

    I would like to see someone do some research on how  curation is 'personal, idiosyncratic, and develops over time'.  What kindsof schema/models do they bring to us?  ITunes playlists? Tagging?  Forum moderating?  I teach university and I have never asked that question.  Maybe we have scrapbookers out there.  Maybe we have skateboarders who collect YouTube moves for n00bs?  I just don't know.  Anybody have any ideas?

  • KevinHodgson   July 15, 2012, 3:28 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Tellio   July 15, 2012, 12:18 p.m.

    "scrapbooking" connection - good one.

    I don't have answers to that last paragraph but now, in thinking of my own boys and my students, it's clear that the playlisting they do is what we are talking about.


  • Shaz   July 20, 2012, 4:55 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Tellio   July 15, 2012, 12:18 p.m.

    Maybe it's cause I'm replying in a big chuck, but I guess the first part of research is self-reflection. What has been our evolutions?

  • Joe Dillon   July 22, 2012, 4:46 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Tellio   July 15, 2012, 12:18 p.m.

    Students bring to us experiences on Facebook. The high school students I worked with last year were fascinated by Michael Wesch's video, The Machine is Us/ing Us. They took a great interest in the concept that we are "teaching" the web, but most couldn't give examples of how. They understood when I offered the example of photo tagging on Facebook, explaining that the social network doesn't employ anyone to go through and identify the people in photos. Users do that. 

    In Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out, an integration of 23 case studies of teens' digital lives, the researchers conclude that "geeking out" is a genre of participation online. Interest-driven learners "geek out" when they engage in specialized behaviors on platforms unique to the online communities to which they belong. I think the majority of students gain fluency on Facebook as a result of socially-driven behavior. YouTube is another platform students know, but typically most know the site only as consumers. I might demonstrate to students how their participation on Facebook leaves a footprint and then demonstrate how other platforms, more specific to their interest-driven purposes, provide an opportunity for them to curate meaningfully. 

  • KevinHodgson   July 15, 2012, 5:56 a.m.

    I strongly believe we have an obligation with our students to teach about, and discuss, and do inquiry work around digital identity. My students, and their parents, have expressed deep appreciation for the work we do on this topic. We cannot expect young people to know what identity means in a digital age, and many parents need help.

    As an aside, we use the CommonSense Media curriculum as one resource. While it is does slant in a negative direction, the materials there are valuable for students (the short videos, in particular, are great) and for parents. (see CommonSense Curriculum)

    My sixth graders did a project around "digital life" that was part of their inquiry work:

    I can't say that we talked about curation ... at all. But I can see that as a nice next step -- asking them to curate a list of resources or materials along a topic. And that would tie in nicely to research endeavors, too, right?


  • Tellio   July 15, 2012, 11:44 a.m.
    In Reply To:   KevinHodgson   July 15, 2012, 5:56 a.m.
    I can see a stealth curation teaching campaign shaping up. Don't call it curation. Call it Seek-Sense-Share to steal from Harold Jarche. Don't you think that identity might just be self-curation or am I a carpenter who thinks everything is a nail?
  • Shaz   July 18, 2012, 11:52 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Tellio   July 15, 2012, 11:44 a.m.

    Oooof now there's an interesting question. 

    Digital identity is definitely something that can be curated, if one cares about how they are presented online. I certainly do and I periodically google my name to see what pops up, and act accordingly. However, it is stretching the definition, I think.

  • Chad Sansing   July 20, 2012, 8:31 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Shaz   July 18, 2012, 11:52 a.m.

    I'm also thinking of how to talk with kids about the ways in which people might curate against them through their social media use.