While it has gained a lot of attention in recent years, curation has always been an important part of an effective learning and development practitioners toolkit. If you think about it, aren’t courses just another form of searching, organizing, and sharing information?

Good instructional designers, trainers, teachers, facilitators, and public speakers are curators by nature. Personally, it seems there is always more valuable resources on a topic than I can ever present in a given time frame without overwhelming the audience.

That’s why for a long time now, I’ve turned to social bookmarking for saving, organizing and sharing the “extra” resources. Yes, there are a plethora of ways you can do this and here are a few of the criteria that I use when choosing from among the sea of options.

1. Publish and point

Over time you find more, better resources. How can you make those available to the cohort you trained last year or even yesterday? Ideally, you’ve given them one place they can follow to stay up on changes to your resources. I often use the phrase “publish and point” for the idea of maintaining a single, up-to-date location for housing links, resources, and additional supporting materials.

This can be done with simple tools like a Google Doc, Evernote, OneNote, etc. etc. Just share the link and when you update the resources that link never changes — therefore ‘publish and point’.

2. Make it easy to follow

While simple options like a Google Doc meet the ‘publish and point’ criteria, they place the burden on your audience because they don’t have any way of knowing when updates are made without periodically remembering to go back and manually check it. While the knowledge your sharing is valuable it will quickly be forgotten.

Fortunately, there are more ‘social’ options that address this challenge. Social bookmarking tools like Diigo, Pinterest and others allow your audience to follow the topics they’re most interested in and get notifications of new additions without requiring them to remember anything. (You can supercharge this idea by plugging these into an RSS reader like Feedly.)

For example, if you want to keep an eye on the things I’m finding about elearning, you can easily follow everything I apply the #elearning tag to in my Diigo account. (Plug it into your RSS reader and voila! Instant notifications delivered directly to you.)

If you have a lot of additional resources like I do, people can discover other, related resources by browsing the tags associated with each resource. In this case, you might branch off into the #Storyline tag from something in the #elearning resources.

3. Tap the wisdom the crowd

If you’ve ever done any teaching or training you probably know what a rich resource of learning the people in your classes and audiences are. I don’t think I’ve ever taught anything where I haven’t learned something new myself. To that end, there is a huge benefit from other people being able to contribute to your collection. And it is even better if they have the option to do it anonymously.

This video from Kevin Jones is one of the best I’ve ever found that illustrates the idea of including others so everyone can save time and work smarter!

If you’ve given open editing access to people in a Google Doc, anyone can add to it. The counterpoint to this type of open access is it could potentially devolve into chaos if your contributors are not quite as thoughtful of their contributions as you’d like.

Zeef for the win!

I’ve been curating things for a loooong time. Way back in the dark ages it began with a combination of email and a Lotus Notes database. Since then, I’ve been on a quest for a really good way to handle the management of links and resources around a particular topic. Over the course of the past couple years, I’ve come to really love the approach that Zeef has taken. It meets my big three criteria discussed above and then some.

Let me start off our tour of Zeef with how it handles my top 3 requirements:

Publish and point

This is the easiest bar to clear and Zeef does this really well. When you create a page you’ll get a URL that looks something like yourtopic.zeef.com. The thing I like best about how Zeef presents the links is the ability to organize likes into subtopics. (Zeef calls them blocks.) You can also add descriptions and image headers for each block. Compare the display of this Zeef page to a similar collection of Diigo bookmarks.

Easy to follow

All Zeef pages have a Follow button that will let you get an email notification anytime new items are added to the page. No need to make any wasted visits looking for new stuff! Here’s what a notification looks like in your inbox.

The wisdom of the crowd

Similar to the follow button, every Zeef page also has a Suggest button that allows anyone to make contributions to your pages. A nice thing about this is that they can submit thinks anonymously if they like. It also helps out by automatically pulling in a title and description of the link and lets contributors indicate which block it fits with or if it should be in a new block of its own (optional).

Pretty nice, right!? Well, there are still more Zeef features any curator would love. Let’s check them out…

  • Highlights new links:
    If you only want the newest additions look for the links in green. Those are the most recently added ones.
  • Avoiding link rot:
    One of the challenges with curated collections is that over time some of your resources vanish from the web leaving you with dead links. Zeef keeps an eye on your links and notifies you if any of them go bad.On your page look for any links that have turned red.

  • Responsive Design:
    Zeef pages are built with a responsive design making them easy to use on smartphones and other mobile devices.
  • Easy sharing options:
    You’ll find built-in social media sharing buttons on every page.
  • Contact Information: Gives you the ability to include your own contact info and social media accounts
  • Embed blocks: Want to post your resources on your website or intranet page? Use the embed code and whenever your Zeef page is udated, so is the site where you embedded your block.
  • Analytics: There are some basic analytics that can give you some useful insights like where your page visitors are coming from, what links they are clicking on, etc.
    ZEEFstats.png

 

See Zeef In Action

Check out these pages to see ZEEF in action.

How are you doing this?

If you’re a trainer, teacher, facilitator, speaker or anyone else who ever needs to share links and resources you’ve likely give this some thought.  I’m always super curious to hear what is working for others. Are you doing anything like this? Do you have similar criteria or others? What are you using and how it is working?