Curate Your ‘Self’

badge for curator moduleI’ve written about curation before in The Web We Weave – Curation in Action and Curation – a call to action – I’ll return to these blog posts, as suggested by Alan Levine in Blog Posts As Old Concrete Slabs or Alive in the Cracks In Between?, to curate my notions of curation. I’ve been awarded the Curator badge from eCampus Ontario Extend for my collection of reflections for the curator module. My self curated list – Curator Completion – is an extension of my curating.

As I prepare this post for the Extend West cohort of Ontario Extend participants, I realize that reviewing and analyzing is a process of curating my ‘self’. What are the benefits of curation for our ‘selves’, as teachers, educators, leaders and learners? What are the benefits of curating for our students?

The etymology of the verb ‘to curate’ comes from the root word ‘cure’ and means ‘to be in charge, manage’ the care of others. In terms of digital and physical resources, such as libraries or museums, it takes on the weight of responsibility for managing and guarding that which needs to be overseen. Within teaching and learning spaces, curation comes to mean that we, as teachers and learners need to “take charge of or organize, to pull together, sift through, select for presentation, to heal and to preserve” (Mihailidis & Cohen, 2013). How can we contribute to our subjects of interest through the acts and actions of curating our ‘selves’? How can students take responsibility for their ‘self’ through the act of curation?

As we venture into digital spaces and places, it’s wise to apply curation tools to build a ‘spotlight’ on your own work, your repositories of course materials, and your work in the open. Mihailidis & Cohen describe curation as an organizational tool, as value-added, and as a means for critical thinking and problem solving. As a curator of your ‘self’, you become better organized, more valuable in your work as a teacher and learner, and can model a critical, problem solving stance for your students. Asking students to curate, as part of their course work, can enhance their ‘selves’ in digitally connected, global conversations around your subject specific content.

Curation as an organizational tool

Every curator needs a set of tried and true organizational tools. What are yours? Knowing that some digital curation tools can and do ‘die’ (see Alan Levine’s alternative to using Storify), it’s critical to have a variety of curation devices. Purpose and audience can help you determine which tools to apply to specific teaching and learning contexts. A few of the curation tools I currently use include Diigo,, Pinterest, and Zotero. Each is used for specific purposes in my professional and teaching work. What tools do you currently use and which curation tools do you hope to apply to your teaching?

Do you bookmark? How you manage, search and share your bookmark organization for your subject matter can be informative to your students. Exporting a course related bookmark file or a collection of links for a specific topic can enhance your course reading materials in open collaboration with your students. With bookmarking as part of a course regime, you’ll always have a current and vetted curation of resources.

In Chrome, open the Bookmark Manager under the Bookmarks tab, select the three ••• in the right hand corner, select Export. In Safari, select the Show Bookmarks under the Bookmarks tab, then go to the File tab and select Export. You will have a full list of all your bookmarks as a document on your computer’s desktop, from which you can copy/paste selected lists as a topic or course specific resource.  You can merge links from your preferred Internet browsers to create a curated list from these curated lists.

Do you tag? On your blog posts, get into the habit of using categories and tags to make your content searchable and curate-able.  Including your name as one of those tags can make your ‘self’ and your work more recognizable when conducting open web searches. With other social media, such as Twitter or Instagram, you can use hashtags to select and identify audience, purpose, and content. Use a course specific hashtag to curate conversations for course related topics. More than two or three hashtags can become confusing, so stick to memorable ones. Do a search of possible tags before you decide on which hashtags to use for course related use. Search for a ‘clean tag’ – one that does not have any history.

Curation as value-added

Curation can add value to your ‘self’ in terms of digital presence. Having students curate resources and links for course content can add value to your course AND their digital presence. Within Twitter, you can use lists to capture participants from a course, event or topic. Using Moments in Twitter can curate tweets from a course or event.

Do you YouTube? Curating video resources by using channels and subscriptions for a course or topic can extend your ‘self’ for personal or professional curation. Having a link to a curated set of videos can ensure students can readily find, review and revisit course related content. One link can rule them all.

Curation as problem solving and critical thinking

Adding value to the web, while engaging in critical discourse with others, can be done using This enables collaborative annotation of web resources and pdf files. Not only can this engage teachers and students into deeper analysis of course readings, but  it can also leave a legacy of insights for other web wanderers to find (if the settings are left open).

As you curate, you will analyze and make judgements about the value of internet resources for your particular purposes.

  • Does this particular resource or link require a deeper look? Then bookmark it for later.
  • Does this web site provide value to students? Then include it as a class task using
  • Does this material add value to your thinking? Then add it to Diigo with a comment or explanation.

Mihailidis & Cohen state that curation of “information to tell a story creates a sense of responsibility for the curator” so let’s work toward students as ‘self’ curators. When students “access content, analyze and evaluate the messages, create presentations, reflect on findings, and work together in collaborative environments” they move beyond the mundane learning tasks and apply “critical skills to combat passivity, groupthink, and the spiral of silence”. Isn’t that worthy of any curation task in any course?

“Students, as curators themselves, can struggle with assessing content, perspective, platforms, agendas, and frames as they sift, sort, and organize information from the depths of the Internet. Through student-driven, creation-driven, collective and integrated teaching approaches to curation, the framework aims to build towards savvy media consumption and production, critical evaluation and analysis, and participation in local, national and global dialog.”  (Mihaidlidis & Cohen, 2013)

Let’s curate our ‘selves’ as a fully engaged, digitally literate teachers and learners. Let’s model for our students what it means to be a curated ‘self’. Let’s collaborate on curations for the benefits of all open educators and learners. It’s a call to action – Curate your ‘self’!


The online etymology dictionary 

Mihailidis, P. & Cohen, J.N., (2013). Exploring Curation as a core competency in digital and media literacy education . Journal of Interactive Media in Education . 2013 ( 1 ) , p . Art. 2 . DOI:

Image attribution: Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash (this image has been edited and remixed to suit this blog post)

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8 Responses to Curate Your ‘Self’

  1. lisamnoble says:

    Thank you so much for this. You crystallize a lot of my thinking around curation here. I would add that I often use Flipboard to curate “textbooks” for my students (and currently, to collate our course readings for my classmates in my library AQ) . Thanks to you and Julie Balen, I am now thoroughly convinced that I need to dig in to I also use Pocket – particularly for things like’s short original fiction, that I can happily access without the need for internet connectivity. (A stash of fantasy/sci-fi short fiction that I can read anywhere? Yes, please)

    One thing I really appreciate here is your list of questions. Knowing why I want to save the resource helps me figure out which of my tools I might want to use for it. I’m also really starting to think about how often I need to weed my collection, and what that process might look like.

    I will be popping your blog into my resources on curation, and remembering to tag my blog posts and other work with my name. That’s a big takeaway for me. Thanks so much!

    • HJ.DeWaard says:

      Thanks for this response Lisa. I’ve tried Pocket and will have to check out the link. I’ve recently transferred my reading records to GoodReads since it lets me track categories, tags, reviews and ‘want to read’ books. Would love to see what’s on your list/stash of fantasy/sci-fi reads! I’m open to new options in that genre.

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  4. Demitri Jaatinen says:

    Hello Ms. DeWaard,

    I learned so much from this blog post on curating yourself, it allowed me to reflect on and comprehend the concept.  Specifically, the section on curation as an organization tool has given me motivation along with ideas when playing the role of a curator within the classroom. I agree with you about the importance of having a variety of curation devices available, due to the impact it can have on your teaching abilities along with creating a better student experience. When reflecting on my teaching experience I have never really focused on using any curation devices.  That being said, I am a frequent user of Pinterest and have been exploring all of the teacher/educator pins.   I think that now that I have looked at one curation device and seen how helpful it can be I will look at other ones in order to expand my variety. Overall, I hope to gather a few sources like you’ve done so that I can utilize different platforms.

    Thanks for sharing!


    • HJ.DeWaard says:

      I’m happy to see this post has prompted some thinking about how you can begin the curation process. This will probably look very different as new technologies emerge, but Pinterest is a big one for many educators. Blog sites and web sites are how I now manage the curation of resources, but I’ve also used Cube for Teachers pretty extensively []. This is a free resource collection tool used by educators for educators. Hope you’ll find and share unique curations in any way you can. Keep curating! Helen

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