9 Curating a Lesson

Bloom’s Levels:
Creating, Evaluating, Analyzing


The practice of ‘curating’ – the selective collecting of other people’s work – rather than creating content has become popular in a number of fields, including education. Although curation can be automated, based on tags or other metadata, it’s more common to add a human touch when curation is used in teaching. It actually takes a great deal of expertise to carefully choose, sequence and annotate resources in a way that makes the curated collection meaningful to learners.

For this assignment, students will design a lesson on a topic related to the course disciplinary topic (either included in the course content or one of their own choosing – it is up to the instructor to determine) by curating existing resources from the web. They will decide on a learning goal that they want their (imagined) audience to achieve and then, using a web-based curation tool or practice, create a curated collection from web-based resources that they select to support the goal of your lesson.

Ask students to imagine that they are trying to teach someone else about something – for example, the physical properties of sound or the Idle No More movement: what is essential that others know in order to understand the topic? Do they require other background information before being introduced to key ideas? What perspectives should be represented? How can a lesson provide answers to those questions using existing web-based resources?

As students are working through the assignment, instructors should recommend the approach below:

A note on curation tools

Students will use a curation tool (their call on which one, but a few options include Padlet, Wakelet, Diigo and Google Keep) to organize and display their lesson on the web. Next:

  • Choose a topic related to the course disciplinary area/content:
    • they should know enough about the topic to feel comfortable teaching it, but they don’t yet have to be an expert – trying to teach something is a great way to learn more about it
    • the topic shouldn’t be so specific or esoteric that it is difficult to find resources about it
    • they may want to use the same topic as you have chosen for other course assignments, as this will give them a good opportunity to find some useful resources for it.
  • Identify a learning goal for their lesson to achieve:
    • setting a specific learning goal for the lesson will help students to narrow the scope of their search for resources to a manageable size; compare what’s available for ‘Typography’ with ‘Learning how to create a hand-lettered font
    • consider their audience; for example, what level of learner are they planning their lesson for? What prior knowledge are they assuming their learners have? In most cases, they will likely be creating a lesson for beginners but if they have significant expertise in their topic, they can be more particular about who their learners might be.
  • Select web resources relevant to the learning goal:
    • start by collecting a larger number of web resources that they can whittle down according to how well they fit with their learning goal and in the overall collection (e.g. avoid duplicating information)
    • ‘web-based resources’ can include websites, videos, a game or simulation, a twitter list, a blog, a quiz, etc.
    • try to vary the types of resources included, ensure they are accessible, and that they are not all from the same source (e.g. a lesson on the history of NASA that only includes links to the NASA website)
    • engage with their critical appraisal strategies and use resources that are academically sound and credible. We encourage them to include at least one open access journal reference.
  • Decide how the resources should be sequenced in the collection.
    • draw from their own experience of learning the topic to think about sequencing – in what order should they present the resources to the learner? Are there certain resources that should precede others? Is the lesson a conversation between multiple viewpoints? Or a step-by-step manual?
  • Write an annotation for each of the resources:
    • annotations are short (1-2 lines maximum) descriptions or explanations of the resource
    • oftentimes, curated resources aren’t exactly made-to-measure for their purposes and they can use the annotation to direct the learner as to how they want learners to interact with the resource (“Focus on the section about…” or “Note that the video is describing an American context: how might it be different in Canada?”, etc.)
  • Add a brief statement that describes the purpose of the lesson and any additional elements that will make the lesson more coherent as a collection:
    • write an opening statement that will help orient the learner to the lesson you’ve created – it should be no longer than a paragraph
    • students can use graphics, metadata tags, speech-to-text audio, described video or other details and strategies to enhance the learning experience of the lesson

To sum up, to  successfully complete this assignment, students are required to:

  1. Purposefully select 8 to 10 resources
  2. Write annotations for the individual resources and a brief statement which contextualizes the collection as a whole
  3. Use a web-based curation tool as the ‘container’ for the collection


This assignment will be graded based on the following criteria: (max 5 points for each item for a total of 35 possible points)

  • relevance
    • is the learning goal meaningful, and clearly defined on the rationale form? Are the selected resources relevant to the learning goal?
  • sequencing
    • is the collection of resources sequenced in a logical way? Is there a sound reason given for the sequencing?
  • annotation
    • are the annotations useful in helping the learner determine what the purpose of the resource is? Can a general idea of what the resource is be determined by the annotation alone?
  • clarity
    • how readable are all of the written elements created for the collection (i.e. annotations and other descriptive text)? Are there spelling mistakes or grammar errors? Is the tone of the writing appropriate for the audience?
  • quality
    • is the collection of resources credible (think back to the CRAAP detection worksheet from Unit 2) and of good academic quality?
  • user experience
    • how user-friendly is the collection? Do all of the links work? Are there any accessibility barriers with using the collection? Has there been some consideration of the aesthetics of the collection’s presentation?
  • fulfillment of assignment requirements
    • does the assignment meet the requirements outlined above? Are there 8 to 10 curated resources in the collection, and are they presented through a web-based curation tool? Has the rationale form been completed?

Technology Used

To create: Up to the student but suggested platforms are Wakelet, Diigo, Padlet, and Google Keep as these are accessible curation platforms. If you do use a different curation tool, check it for accessibility.

To submit: Learning Management System, Email

Facilitation Tips

Example from course:

McMaster University: Digital Literacy for Learning (Devon Mordell & Joanne Kehoe, instructors)

  • present course content using visual, auditory (graphic, and verbal) formats:
  • comprehensive print and electronic syllabus specifying course requirements, course expectations, and due dates
  • use an organizer to highlight essential course concepts
  • ensure accessibility of course content and materials by using accessible documents and websites (today’s session):
  • provide captions for videos
  • select open educational resources/material that offer rich media options


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