Curating content for students: The guide on the side

Yesterday Alan Cann tweeted a link to a post about that he’d written back in June. Like many others I’ve been trying out to curate content.  I’ve only only got one topic on the go at the minute pulling together snippets on elearning and medical education, but I’m starting to think about whether we should be trying out to curate content for our students.  Recently I’ve been bookmarking sites with Diigo and pulling the feeds from lists into some of our medblog sites. The idea behind using social bookmarking was to create a faux-repository for students of open online resources that have been recommeded by our clinial teachers. The SHEEN project collated resources on employability using Diigo and pulled RSS feeds from Diigo and other sources into Netvibes. The key thing missing from this faux-repository was support for social interaction.  Alan Cann also highlights the social sharing deficienices of Delicious in his post and hence why he likes

Last week at AMEE, an international medical education conference, whilst I was in a symposium on student engagement I was following the tweets from a short communications session on social media and was disappointed to see the digital natives myth was still being peddled. One of my twitter meded circle mentioned that in another session there was a question from someone with concerns about the open nature of the web and the resources students were using on the web and whether they were good or reliable.  The speaker’s response was to highlight that one of the roles of teachers is to be a ‘guide on the side’ and that they could play a role in quality assuring stuff on the web.  At the end of the week I was at a much smaller medical education meeting and had a conversation with a colleague about the wealth of great medical education resources available online.  My colleague suggested there must be a way to collate these and include some sort of star rating to give an indication of how good a resource is and share with medical students across the UK.

This has got me thinking about whether teachers should actively be curating content supporting their role as the guide on the side.  Lecturers do recommended reading lists and links to useful websites posted in VLEs or listed in paper study guides, but tools like allow ongoing curation of content and could, like social bookmarking tools, help build up a quality assured faux-repository to support learning. Students can react to content and share it to others via Twitter and other social platforms. is pretty easy to use, though like Alan I wish you could add tags when you scoop the content rather then having to remember to add tags once you’ve published it. The other thing about is that you can suggest an item to another topic, which would allow students to share content with their lecturers for review who in turn can go on to curate and share with other students.  Another option might be to curate content on a wordpress site that could serve as a repository and include a star ratings plugin so that students could rate how good the resource was in supporting their learning as well as leaving comments.

Is anyone actively curating content for their students in medicine or other subject areas?  I’m going to see if I can find one of our clinical teachers to give a go.  If I get a volunteer I’ll hopefully get round to posting an update of how we get on.


  1. The concept of curation is something which has been very much on my mind since discovering a few months ago. Specifically, a “curation layer” on top of disparate web resources. I have had complaints about the extra click through that curating resources on generates, but for me, that cost is far outweighed by the increased uptake of the resources (clickthoughs) I see via

    1. I don’t mind the additional layer that creates to get to the resources. That additional layer can bring added value if people are commenting or saying they like the resource linked to, or if students say what it’s particularly helpful for. I think it has quite a bit of potential to support curating content for learning and the few students I’ve shown it to seem to like it. I’m hoping that one of our students might have a go at curating content relating to ethics. It will be interesting to see how develops once it moves out of beta.

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