by Lisa Shustack, EdD, MSN, RN
Do you remember your first days in nursing education when you decided to take on teaching a new course for the first time? Being inexperienced, nervous, and probably a little insecure wondering if you would be able to structure and lead an interesting and engaging lesson plan. There is a good chance you inherited the previously used collection of handouts, lesson plans, and resources from the previous faculty to sort through, organize and use in developing your own course. Although you were feeling overwhelmed, you sigh some relief knowing that you had a starting point.
Although it may seem antiquated, nurse educators are still photocopying, printing, and sharing hard copies of handouts, resources, and digital pages to other faculty and students. Organizing this content into a digital format can be an arduous task making the process of organizing your digital academic life seemed like additional work. As nurse educators, we’ve all been to stimulating education conferences where we learn about exciting new online tools that we can use in our classrooms. During the conference we write them all down on our conference notepad, take it back to campus, share verbally what we learned with our fellow faculty, and file the paper away in our desk drawer. If we are lucky, we may remember one or two of those tools and implement them in our lesson plans. What if there was a way make the process of finding, saving and sharing quality online education resources simple and unobtrusive? It is time for nurse educators to not only be environmentally conscious in our academic practices but also time to jump into the paperless technology world and reap the rewards of your efforts. Similar to having a textbook library, the value of acquiring new online education resources lies in your collection.
Just as there are curators for art galleries, nurse educators need to be curators for nursing education. Curation for nursing education means that you find or identify content relevant to nursing education from a variety of sources, organize it for yourself, and share it strategically with other nurse educators. Curating nursing education online content not only helps you find resources valuable to your specific needs, but it also allows you to pay it forward, helping other nurse educators who are engaging in similar searches find those resources. By doing so, you are creating an online community where explorers looking for creative, engaging and effective teaching tools are welcome.
Creating an online curation of resources goes far beyond the simple copying and pasting of links to a word document. The vast amount of curation tools online allows nurse educators to create simple platforms where favorite websites can be used as a dashboard for your everyday use or to organize a bulletin board of ideas to share with faculty colleagues. Curation tools can also be used with students who need to compile and organize their online research or used to aggregate a list of applicable videos for a specific teaching topic. Consider how you are organizing these types of online resources currently within your practice. Curation tools, when used properly, can help to simplify, organize, and share these online resources without picking up a pen.
The following are a list, not ranked by preference or performance, of curation tools to collect online resources and share them with colleagues or students depending on your specific needs.
Google keep is a web-based application that allows you to create and share notes, lists, and reminders. The ability to add images, voice notes, and drawings that are assembled into an online sticky note. The sticky notes can be customized and shared with whomever would benefit from the content. Everyone who has access to the note can collaborate and share additional ideas. Google Keep works on your phone, android wearables, tablet and computer. Long gone are the days of having twenty yellow sticky notes slapped onto your computer screen frame or on your physical desktop. Consider the time saved by using Google Keep for brainstorming a problem, issue or idea with faculty prior to the one hour scheduled faculty meeting. The abilities of Google Keep are endless for nurse educators as you can tag notes to find them easily in your collection or drag and drop the note into a presentation or document as a side bar for discussion.
Diigo is a social bookmarking tool that not only allows you to save your bookmarks to the cloud so you can access them from home or your office, but you can also tag, create groups, and annotate on web pages. It is also a fantastic tool to curate research articles. Nurse educators are able to highlight, comment, and add notes to the content being bookmarked. The networking and sharing features of Diigo is invaluable. Many of us use several computers or devices throughout our day as well as smartphones and tablets. Diigo allows you to have a central repository of those bookmarks. By creating groups within Diigo for colleagues or students you can share bookmarks, add a tag for description, and highlight or comment on important areas or share thoughts and ideas. Diigo organizes that content and maintains a chronological list of things saved to that particular group.
Scoop.it is a curation tool that can be used to share your favorite resources on a custom page. Scoop.it collates information from online publications, including social media articles, and using many familiar elements of social media tools, creates a publication in an online magazine format. The mobile app makes this perfect for quickly sharing information with others or for students to use during group work. The ability to use Scoop.it in the classroom are limitless. Consider replacing paragraph text-based discussion boards with student created mini articles which add content plus visual appeal.
To that end, this list should not be considered all-inclusive and is meant to be a starting point for nurse educators to jump into the world of online content curation. Based on your own needs you may find a better fit outside this list, however, by investigating these sites you’ll gain a strong understanding of the types of curation sites that are out there and the unique features of each. At the end of the day, it all comes down to determining what digital information you want to save and how or whom you want to share it with.
Explore on nurse educators, explore on!