Creating a personal learning environment

What is digital curation?

It is the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets (1). Once you have curated the digital content you might want to share with others. There are different ways of sharing this content:
  • Sending out the link
  • Retweeting on Twitter
  • “Like” on Facebook
  • “1+” on Google+
  • Many others
You might also want to share your reflection of digital content. This is where this guide might help you. A personalized learning network or environment (PLN or PLE) is created when you have curated digital information and shared your reflection with others.  You are collaborating when you interact with other people's posts, podcasts, or images.

Pick a topic or resource, such as an online blog, podcast, tweet, image, post on Facebook or Google+ that interests you. The source needs to be reputable and up to date. (Five criteria for evaluating Web pages).

Find an outlet. This is where you are going to write your reflection. These outlets may be set up as public (others can see your content) or private (only those with granted access can see your content). Some of these outlets may be set up where others can submit their comments for discussion. This feature may also be disabled if it is not desired. Here are a few social media outlets:
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Websites
  • Google Documents
  • Twitter
  • Storify
What’s your reflection?
  • What do you know about the subject (topic)?
  • What do they present in the online material?
  • What does the primary literature say?
  • How does it compare/contrast to you current knowledge?
  • How will this change your current knowledge?
  • Can this be applied to a different scenario?
  • Do you see any future controversies?
The point is to gather information to enrich your background knowledge, write your reflection, and have a discussion with others about it. A perfect example of a Personalized Learning Network in action is by a medical student, Lauren Westafer (@LWestafer) from her blog "The Short Coat".

Become a content curator in three steps (2):
  • Do it on a specific topic, so that you are seen as a trusted source or expert on that topic.
  • Share only the best stuff.
  • Do it continuously so that you are continuously providing up-to-date content.
Here's an excellent 4-minute video on the concept of Personalized Learning Network by Will Richardson(3):

Some educators might be a bit skeptical about the use of technology in education due to their unfamiliarity with this integration. These are 5 tips to help educators see how useful these tools can be. 

Five Things Every Teacher Should Know (4

1. Technology integration is about more than TOOLS

  • Use technology to create a community  
2. Tech tools come and go, so focus on mastering the FUNCTIONALITY to support 21st century learning goals: the 4Cs.
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity and innovation
3. CYCLE: Search, save, share
  • If you don’t know, know how to find it.  
4. Technology integration requires you to embrace LEARNING
  • Be a sponge, don’t let the “expert” label throw you off.  
5. Roll with it
  • Be flexible when using technology
Explore, gather some information, compare it to what you know, and share your experience with others. 

Some examples of digital curators in emergency medicine:
  • - “...Dedicated to providing online emergency medicine and critical care insights and education for everyone, everywhere...”
  • - An EM/critical care doctor who via a podcast explores ways to improve patient care.
  • - A doctor from Australia who discusses the improvement of prehospital medicine via a podcast by expressing his opinions on podcasts, blogs, scientific literature.
  • - “Musings on publications and studies relevant to emergency medicine.” A blog run by an emergency physician who explores and gives his opinion on primary literature.
  • - A website run by Mount Sinai Emergency Medicine Residency, they explore and give their impression on online content.
  • - “A link directory to for all things emergency medicine on the web”
  • The short coat a blog by a medical student who explores online information and writes her reflections online.
Javier Benítez, MD

2.Content Curation for Online Education
3. Personal Learning Environments And Personal Learning Networks Symposium
4. Five Things Every Teacher Should Know

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