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Content curation brings value to students

Content curation for education – Case Study

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This case study describes how content curation brings value to instructors and students, and ways to use Cronycle for content curation for education, in a university context.

The challenge of the forgetful adult

I have been an independent lecturer and mentor for an innovation master program in a major business school in France, for six years. For the last two years, I also coordinated the design strategy course, which involves six lecturers.

I have noticed a few pain points related to delivering value to students. The main issues, not surprisingly, is forgetfulness. Indeed, the brain does not retain memory if the learned knowledge is not consciously reviewed again and again (read about the forgetting curve). This is why so much learning is based on repetition. But facing the same information is perceived as boring by adults (unlike small kids – and that’s part of their incredible capacity to learn). So as soon as I repeat, the students switch off (or rather switch to social media).

Value of content curation

So, as instructors, we need a way to repeat without them noticing. I’ve included three ways to do that in my design strategy program:

  • Apply learnings through assignments and mini-projects.
  • Have an overlap between the scope of the different instructors, as we all have a different way to explain and frame knowledge, based on our own experiences.
  • Deliver curated content on a regular basis to bring in even more diversity of knowledge and delivery.

Helping students find content, make sense of it, and share it onwards is a great way for them to revisit the course messages, open up to more perspectives, and continue exploring. This is what Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Management is about – seek, sense, and share information. Curated content also remains accessible for later on, when it becomes highly needed – such as during internships.

Most instructors use the hands-on approach with assignments and projects, but content curation for education is under-utilized.

Ways to curate content for a university course

Over the last two years, I have tested two ways of doing content curation for education, which I describe here. After that, I conclude with the benefits of each approach. Both are using Cronycle – the content curation platform dedicated to help people grow knowledge, expertise and authority.

Participative content curation

Last year, I added all the students and instructors to a Cronycle Workspace, so that exchange of information could go both ways. Lecturers added references and course material on two distinct boards. Most references had a little summary to introduce the reference within the context of the course. A tag corresponding to the lecture number was also added to help filter. We occasionally used comments to dig deeper within lecturers. Both boards were then published within the workspace as curated feeds (the predecessor of subscription boards, discontinued since) so the students could access it.

Content curation for education using Cronycle boards
Board with items for the first lecture

On their side, students could propose further reading and deliver homework. The benefits for the active students were fresh and relevant content easily available, and the capacity to add value to the group. For the lecturers (who like me are independent lecturers), most of the information exchange could go through one platform which was easy to get access to – one only need an invitation by email and adding a password.

Direct delivery of curated content

This year, I wanted to deliver the references directly by email, to engage more with the less motivated students. Lecturers continue to work on the course references board like last year. But this year, after each lecture, they assemble the relevant content as a newsletter.

Content curation for education using newsletters for course references
Extract of newsletter sent to students

For example, my last lecture was on Tuesday. I prepared and sent the references in a newsletter issue on the Sunday after. The effort needed from students is lower as the content gets delivered to them directly, and they can concentrate on reading the content.

In parallel, I keep a curated feed available so they can decide whether or not to follow it in Cronycle, or come back whenever they want.

Comparison between these options to curate content for education

In retrospect, the first option (students on boards) is by far the richer experience, as students also propose relevant content. Information flows both ways. Next time, I’ll look at combining the two, with students both on boards and receiving content as digests or newsletters so they get reminded about ways to revise their knowledge and adding more to the benefit of the whole class.

Feature image from Freepik

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