LIS 635 Digital Tools for Children

Tech Tasks – Digital Curation, unit 1

I decided to choose dinosaur information resources and digital collections for elementary school students as my topic for digital curation. At the library I work at, kids are constantly asking me to for juvenile nonfiction books about dinosaurs, so I thought it would be beneficial to further investigate digital tools that help kids explore dinosaurs in different ways.

Pinterest has always been one of my favorite digital curation tools. Every time you type words in the search bar, Pinterest automatically turns them into tagged metadata terms that link to items from other people’s boards that are tagged with similar search terms. For instance, when I search “dinosaurs for kids,” I find tons of images of crafts, games, and activities related to learning about dinosaurs tagged on other people’s boards.

I particularly like how a link to the website or blog appears beneath each pinned image to let the viewer know where the image came from. For instance, when you click on this image about making a dinosaur replica out of toilet paper tubes, the link below the image takes you to a woman’s blog, which gives step-by-step directions about how to do this at home.

dino pinterest

Scoop.it doesn’t provide the same level of metadata word searching as Pinterest, but it does allow you to find well researched, recent articles about your topic pulled from news sources and magazine articles as well as lighter blogs and meme-type images. It automatically identifies “topics” that contain your search terms and that contain scooped articles related to these terms. For instance, searching “dinosaur” revealed 27 dinosaur “topics” (see below).  However, the more specific your search terms get, the less likely you’ll be to find something about your topics; I tried typing in “dinosaurs” and “elementary school” or “juvenile” and it yielded no results.

scoop it

Much like Pinterst, you can opt to follow a topic, which interests you, so that was helpful as well for curating similar information. You can also comment on articles you scoop and like them, much like Facebook. Tracking the users, much like Pinterest, is also an option, so you can follow people who like the same topics you do.

Listly is a lot like Pinterest and Scoop.it, but it’s really focused on tracking the rankings or the social media metrics of how much you share your lists and how popular your lists are. Much like the other two, you search for a topic and people’s previously tagged lists about the topics show up. For instance, there was a list of the best dinosaur costumes for kids, which included a picture and brief blurb about each. As the website says, today’s web culture is all about consuming small bits of content quickly and lists are a great way to do it. You can display your lists in different ways – magazine style with pictures, slideshow where you have to click each image, or minimal without any pictures, etc. And you can order the list based on crowd ranked, newest, curated and other options to view the lists in different orders and get a better idea of “what’s hot.” For instance, the screenshot below is a list of the Top Ten Dangerous Herbivore Dinosaurs displayed as a gallery and listed based on a crowd ranked arrangement. You can also search by item where you can find individual items from lists that you can then “relist” and add to your own list.

listly

Learnist focuses on “expertly curated web, print, and video content,” ranging from academic topics, such as politics, history, and archeology, to more general lifestyles/entertainment type topics. Unlike the other digital curation tools I’ve explored so far, Learnist allows you to browse by pre-suggested topics, such as education, crafts, and health & fitness. Some of the premium or higher quality posts you have to pay for, which is kind of sad, but all of the other content allows you to “add to your reading list,” which gives the site a more dignified feel that allows you to comment on the information as well. Like Listly, there are all sorts of social media indicators that let you know how many times each item has been Tweeted, Facebooked, pinned, etc.

Here’s an example of a pretty well curated board about paleo diets that I got to from searching dinosaurs under the “food and drinks” category.
learnist

Paper.li really did remind me of what a lot of 21st newspapers are making their websites look like these days. I typed in “dinosaurs” and in a few minutes, the site generated all sorts of information about dinosaurs and grouped this information into different categories that you saw as you scrolled down the page, including headline articles at the top, followed by videos, then photos, and finally social media and article links to dinosaur-related science, arts and entertainment, and leisure topics. Check it out! https://paper.li/f-1440549209#

Some of the items it includes are kind of a stretch as far as accurately relating to the topic you chose to feature, but fortunately, it gives you the option to delete anything you don’t want. For instance, some items were super cheesy, like a hedgehog eating a fake plastic dinosaur, while others were pop culture items selected merely to populate the page. So while it’s a cool presentation of ideas and such, I think what the site generates really demands a lot of self-editing and importing content from your own social media networks and other social media sites like Facebook or Pinterest, which it does allow you to do.

So I never knew there was a social media tool for curating strictly youtube videos, but there is. It also looks like you can upload your own videos as well as Flickr images and images from Google to flesh out your collection and then embellish the layout with different templates, colors and comment options. Blendspace is pretty quick and easy for people who are really into the visual side of learning. You just drag and drop your content into these pre-designed templates and it’s all right there. From the student perspective, this definitely seems to be a way to make learning fun. However, unlike Learnist or Paper.li, I question the level of educational value and the amount of informative learning content that a student derives from something like this. Students can record themselves through a video, as is the case with the text image in the top right corner of this screen shot, where the student wrote a paper about dinosaurs and then voice recorded over it. But beyond that, the content seems like a lot of fluff!

blendspace

So Storify seems like Paper.li in the sense that you’re curating your own news of sorts; however, it takes it to a much more professional level by allowing you to curate from a lot of social meida sites and then heavily annotate each source you compile and build the news yourself instead of allowing the computer to generate news on a specific topic for you. You can Storify something from virtually anywhere on the web and then share your content with others so that the “breaking news” you’ve curated spreads more quickly. Typing in dinosaurs resulted in mix of serious world news articles to not-so-serious videos. In a way, it’s like re-writing the news as you can just drag and drop videos and articles into a document and then give it its own headline and description. So like a lot of the digital curation sites, you really have to critically assess the information in the storify pages that you follow to make sure that the content you’re reading is not the Storify creator’s commentary on the original news piece.  Here’s what I mean – see my very not realistic headline!

storify

Symbaloo I kind of just breezed through as it looks merely like the app list on your smartphone in that it groups all of your favorite websites together as icons on one page and allows you to continually bookmark new favorites to add to the page. This eliminates the need for typing web addresses, which saves time and (in my opinion) kills brain cells.

Pearltrees is really targeted for the more elementary age user, which might be perfect with my demographic. It’s all about helping the user showcase their interests through both original content – photos, notes, etc. – and through searchable content, including everything from Wikipedia articles to National Geographic articles. So as far as authority of the content, you really don’t know what you’re getting! Like Pinterest, it does curate different boards of interests that you can then share with others, which is handy. Overall though, I wasn’t too impressed.

So aside from Pinterest, which I already knew about, I think of these digital curation tools, I valued Learnist the most for allowing the user to curate relevant, seemingly trustworthy information, which was both entertaining, yet informative, and appropriate for an elementary school/academic student demographic to use. I’ve created a Learnist board below to showcase relevant digital tools elementary school students could pull together to help them learn more about dinosaurs!

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