Ever thought about using curation tools as an aid to enhancing your students' literacy skills?
I've recently commenced using Scoop.it, an online curation tool, to archive information from numerous sources about topics that are of interest to me. It's a web-based platform which means sharing content with like-minded readers is very simple. It's also possible to offer your own insights and engage with others in debate, which makes it very much a participatory tool for those wishing to take advantage of the tool's affordances.
I've embedded the Scoop.it widget in the left hand column of this blog, which when clicked on, guides you to articles about information and communication technologies; Skype teaching; pedagogical approaches; massive open online courses (MOOCs); open educational resources (OERs), resources for English language students etc, that I've already filtered from various sources. If you take the journey remember to explore the Scoop. it search box as there are some fantastic pages relevant to language learning, teaching and educational technology. That's my purpose for using it out of the way, so what about language students?
As a Skype teacher who gives primarily English lessons on a one- to- one basis, I am going to use Scoop.it with my own language students and hence, have just created the topic 'Resources for Language Students' , which provides reading material and links to numerous websites both British and American, that contain videos, podcasts, practice papers and information about exams, interactive games and quizzes etc. The advantage of creating this topic here, is that it's a central place to archive material which can be reused for the future and be accessed at any time from various devices (there is also an iPhone and Android App available) by my students and other learners of mixed-levels.
The layout enables a clear overview which eliminates digging around in your pdfs and docs for extra material for your students and also saves on storage space. It can be used and curated collaboratively and articles can be shared further through other social media tools with the simple click of a button.
Possible uses for my language students and yours:
- provide extra reading material for mixed language levels
- encourage students to provide links to articles that they would like to explore and curate the topics for them. (Having said that, it is possible to have several curators at once. Scoop.it has a special offer for educational purposes whereby 20 topics per month can be curated, by up to 30 people per topic. That's an enormous amount of curating. I'd recommend commencing with a free plan initially and see how often you are using it with students and whether it is of any assistance or not, before digging into your pockets for funds. I use a free plan.)
- practice skimming, scanning, deduction skills and reading skills in general. The layout of Scoop. it, is particularly conducive to this.
- have students rewrite or expand on articles thereby encouraging creativity and practicing writing skills. They can share these worked texts in class. (My students share written work via Google Drive or mail.)
- use the articles or just the titles to generate conversation. What they deduce from a title may not necessarily match what is written.
This could lead to some interesting and entertaining revelations.
- use the images in a similar manner. Ask the students to write a short article using the image as a prompt and then compare it with the curated text.
- upload their own articles or blog posts for peer analysis and further discussion. It is possible to add comments and engage in asynchronous communication via this tool.
- analyse the different genres and the purpose of them. Write a similar article in another genre and compare the differences e.g. what effect it has on the reader; for what audience it would be most suitable and in which situation would it be most appropriate.
- analyse the construction of texts i.e. how is it organized, what cohesion strategies are used, whether the range of language register and format are appropriate etc. Then ask the students what changes they would recommend and why.
In summary, with my teaching context in mind and any educators in a similar situation, I'm thinking about using this tool more for creative and analytical type activities where higher order thinking skills are required. This is only a short list of possible suggestions and I'm sure many of them are tasks that you engage in with non-digital texts with your own students. I envisage a curation tool like this being utilized as a means of enhancing literacy skills relevant to language learning e.g. reading, writing, speaking and listening and of course improving digital literacy skills during the process, without the tasks being mundane and passive. I'm also hoping that my students will be motivated to dip into the site and make use of the extra resources without me having to prompt them.
As I stated earlier, I use this tool to share articles with, and rescoop from like-minded people, as well as filtering articles from the Web. I add my own texts and insights if I feel I have a viewpoint or another perspective that I'd like to share. Each time an article is scooped it can be shared via social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google +, Tumbir and Worpress, but this is optional. I often share via Twitter with specific communities of people who I know or feel may be interested in something I have stored on my pages. In this respect, it can also be used with groups of teachers within your own community to share and collaborate on topics that are either of relevance to students, the teaching community or perhaps even interested parents.
As with any material that you use or share on the web whether it's a text, video, music or images etc, do be aware of copyright issues and discuss this with your students, particularly when embedding material in blogs or changing original content in any manner and posting it, this includes adding music to a video. Always give credit to the original source and check if there is a creative commons license attached and which license it is. There can be restrictions so take the time to familiarise yourself with them. Ask for permission if you are unsure and desperately want to use something for educational purposes.
When using Scoop.it, make use of the Scoop.it bookmarklet and rescoop button and then you won't have to worry about crediting sources, as this is done automatically for you. The same applies when sharing articles through other social media from this curation tool. Tick the boxes provided and the deserving sources will be credited.
Russell Stannard has created a series of teacher training videos concerning Scoop.it which is worth delving into if you've never used anything like this before.
DiTesco has written a blog post which discusses content curation and lists several free tools which you may want to explore before making any decisions about curating your own topics.