Educators as Curators

I’ve been referring to this slide deck on for years! It’s Re-envisioning Modern Pedagogy: Educators as Curators by Weisgerber & Butler.

Many of us preparing for the first semester amid the uncertainty of the pandemic. Maybe you’re asking, what should I put in that shiny new learning management system? Aim for triple alignment of your learning outcomes, assessment and teaching/learning activities. I gave a webinar for microbiologists recently, and the pictures below come from my slide deck here.

Though I hardly remember my microbiology (gasp!), I tried my hand at the basic syllabus. One topic was about microscopes.

I assumed that the students will not be able to go to the lab yet. So I searched for a YouTube video that matched the learning outcomes. For students with poor internet access, the same information would be available as a handout.
Instead of passively watching the YouTube video or reading the handout, I included filling up this table as formative assessment. I also wanted to gamify it a bit. Perhaps like a treasure hunt online to find sample images of the same microorganism under a light vs electron microscope.

Well, do you know what this is? Acid fast bacilli means ... Mycobacterium tuberculosis!

When I went on YouTube, there were many videos about microscopes! I had to choose one. Just like a museum curator decides what goes on display, an educator curator does the same. Weisgerber and Butler enumerates 8 steps.

  1. FIND. You could go looking yourself or you could set up a personal learning network. Mine is on Twitter. I follow other educators who share relevant content, which I can then use in class. At times, I’ve had students months or years after they’ve been in my class, tagging me on material I can use too. Our students often go online to look for supplementary resources when they want to know more or need to better understand a concept we introduced to them in class. I don’t think Google will ever replace the teacher though. Because when our students run a Google search, thousands of links appear. They may not necessarily have the expertise to choose which is best, which brings us to number 2.
  2. SELECT. Weisgerber and Butler says we might consider the following: quality, relevance and originality. I’d like to point out that if we are unable for example to find or select a video that is useful for our course, then we’d have to make our own. With not much time before the first semester, I’d recommend using EdPuzzle (quick demo here) to insert questions and notes into YouTube videos. You can also try structuring a TedEd lesson around a YouTube video. A short tutorial is embedded in this post.
  3. EDITORIALIZE. By this, Weisgerber and Butler means to contextualize content, introduce or summarize, and to add one’s perspective. The last is especially important as what may be applicable elsewhere does not necessarily apply to the Philippines. In the screenshot below, I attempt to editorialize by giving the context of how old I was when the Alma-Ata declaration was signed. Yep, that’s how long ago it was that the world declared “Health for All.” Adding that one sentence also sort of differentiates the learning management system from being just a glorified Google drive.

4. ARRANGE. And again, this may be a differentiating factor for a learning management system vs a Google drive. We can arrange our resources in a certain way, as if to suggest a learning path to the student, look at this then this. In the above example, I put the YouTube video first before the pdf reading. It is then followed by the rubric for the assignment before the assignment itself.

And this is a favorite slide from this Weisgerber and Butler slide deck! I love the idea that as an educator-curator, I'm creating info molecules! 

5. CREATE. Where will our info molecules reside? We can create modules on our learning management system, lay it all out on a blog or create a tweetorial on Twitter. We can make pdfs or interactive ebooks.

6. SHARE. We can share our course only to our students inside the learning management sytem or we can put it online as an open educational resource. The slide deck below is my 155th slide deck on All my slide decks are under a Creative Commons license.

7. ENGAGE. If we put our course on a learning management system (LMS), we also need to ensure that our students engage with the content. Within the LMS, I’ve tried engaging students in an asynchronous discussion via the forum. As synchronous meetings online are difficult because of the variable quality of internet access of our students, these can be reserved for those who want consultation hours with the teacher. I’ve also tried Flipgrid. Check out an overview of this free platform here. The exchange of short videos between me and my students was an enjoyable experience!

8. TRACK. The LMS allows the teacher to track the students’ participation. I know which content hasn’t been clicked on (of course, a click doesn’t mean it got read). I once made more quiz questions from the unpopular content! The LMS can even send me emails as to which student hasn’t been logging on and who might need my help. I once told a class of 160 students, that only 60 of them had watched my lecture video. Their excuse? Their class liaison officer posted the link on their Facebook group and so those who viewed it there weren’t counted.

The semester begins late this year, September instead of August. We’ve got enough time (I think!) to create our info molecules!

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