collectionsCURATE, when used as a verb, implies action: “To take charge of (a museum) or organize (an art exhibit). To pull together, sift through, and select for presentation, as music or website content…”  Considering the origin, the term “curate” dates back to 1300-50 from Middle English. The act of curating as well as the term, obviously, are quite dated. However, this process of curation is still a main focus of the K-12 school library media specialist in providing resources and teaching good information literacy skills to students today.

As I ponder the tools available for CURATING information (especially considering the P-12 community), I stand amazed at the sheer number in existence! A recent perusal of my daily technology emailings revealed one source that included well over 70 sample FREE tools for curation of information. With such a whirlwind of resources available, how can one be certain they are using the best, most appropriate tool with students and faculty? The best answer is, you can’t! The solution to the overload dilemma for free web 2.0 tools is to first examine what you need to cover in your collecting and why, explore tools that are out there, then simply jump in and find a tool that works well for your needs.

EVERNOTE.  For example, if a tool is needed for simply gathering relevant information about a topic, a great resource is EVERNOTE. It retrieves info from anywhere using any device, including the cell phone. It is probably one of the most versatile and useful tools for curating information from websites to pictures to voice recordings to ANYTHING on the web. It is searchable, even words contained in pictures are searchable in Evernote.

PINTEREST.  If the need for gathering information is to simply pull main ideas and collect simple pieces of data, PINTEREST is a great tool.  I surveyed media specialists on the Georgia School Library Media listserv about curation tools that are most useful and Pinterest was recommended for quick ideas for book fair themes, bulletin board ideas, iPad app suggestions, lesson ideas, and a basic search portal. It’s an easy-to-use tool and provides short, succinct ideas for projects and lessons.

PEARLTREES.  This is another resource that is quickly developed and opens the door for easy sharing among groups of students or faculty members. It curates web pages, files, photos, notes, etc., and allows for collaboration and sharing of “pearls” and collections of pearls among users.

REBELMOUSE.  If the need or goal is to allow for multiple social networks to be collected into one space, REBELMOUSE is recommended. This is a resource I have not used much, but in exploring the possibilities, one powerful piece is that is can basically share information from social networks with others who do not use those networks. It can function automatically to retrieve data or manually when directed to curate.

SCOOP.IT.  This is a great way to share topic-based content with teachers, students, administrators, board members, any group. Selected websites can easily be “scooped” and shared with selected viewers with a goal to inform, and perhaps enlighten, others to your perspective on specific issues and happenings in the school, community, country, or world!

SYMBALOO.  What an amazing tool! One of the most impressive uses I have seen of SYMBALOO was from a 5th grade student. This student set up a symbaloo with all of the necessary websites/applications linked on the main page, then gathered resources using each of the sites. The final product was most impressive: youtubes, timelines, pdf files, word documents, homemade videos, sound clips, and the list goes on and on. The beauty of this was that everything was logically connected to the course objective being studied. It was a seamless transition from one piece of data to the next, all pointing to the learning outcome required for the work. This was an example of good pedagogy at it’s finest!!

CAPZLES.  Finally, if the need for gathering data involves a timeline or sequencing. Actual photos can be included, as well as audio and documents. Details for each capzle can be included for each item, and they can be shared through a variety of social media or embed code. There is a capzles iPhone app that is convenient for sharing capzles on the fly.

These are just a few curation tools that are free and quite useful in gathering a myriad of resources for future use, sharing, boasting, or just your own personal gallimaufry. They can certainly enhance the information-gathering practices of kids in school, as well as the world’s greatest curators!

Happy curating!!