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The Art of Curation: Best Practices for Using Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Eileen Horn (University of Wisconsin Extension, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 9:15am
Open, Global, Mobile
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Asia 3
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 5

OERs can help create a well-designed, meaningful course. This session goes beyond finding OERs and provides practical tips for evaluating and curating them.

Extended Abstract

Description of Problem

In developing a new online program, faculty were asked to curate Open Educational Resources (OERs) to serve as the primary learning resources for students whenever possible. The UW Flexible Option is a competency-based education program that is designed to provide adults and other nontraditional students the ability to earn degrees by demonstrating mastery of skills, abilities, and knowledge as opposed to time in class. As in other competency-based programs, the emphasis is on what the students know, not how they learned it. With the focus on assessment of mastery, the program offers an opportunity for significant cost savings to students, in terms of time and money spent on tuition and learning materials. Using OERs contributes to this economy. Based on individual needs, each student has flexibility in the way he or she chooses to use and interact with those learning resources.

During the development of the UW Flexible Option program, instructional designers at CEOEL employed a continuous improvement approach to identify areas in need of improvement. We gathered feedback from faculty, students, and other instructional designers. As a result of this review process, one area of need identified is the curation of learning resources. There was often a struggle to determine which resources to use and how to incorporate them in the course in a strategic, well-thought-out way. To support student success, there was a need to avoid courses with simple lists of links, and focus instead on quality of materials, not just quantity.

In many cases finding the learning resources is the easy part. The challenge lies in selecting the best ones and curating them in a meaningful way. "Content curation is not about collecting links or being an information pack rat, it is more about putting them into a context with organization, annotation, and presentation. Content curators provide a customized, vetted selection of the best and most relevant resources on a very specific topic or theme" (Kanter, 2011). To address this challenge, we developed ways to help faculty and instructional designers become proficient in evaluating and curating the content.

Inspiration came from the similarities between the work of museum curators and the work faculty were being asked to do. The goal was to create tools that would help faculty become content curators as opposed to content aggregators. Well-curated materials can help tap into the prior knowledge students have and facilitate meaningful new learning connections and experiences. A well-thought-out course with annotated content placed appropriately in the course allows students to navigate on their own while gaining the information they need to be successful. Not unlike enabling a museum patron to guide himself through a well-crafted museum exhibit, the goal is the same: communicating the purpose with placement and context of materials.

Goal of Presentation

This presentation will share UW-Extension's guidelines for high-quality content curation, demonstrate the tools created, and explain how these are used by faculty and instructional designers to create powerful, organized, and meaningful courses.

The presentation will feature tools from a Learning Resources Kit that was developed in response to a clear need. The kit includes an overview of the process of finding, evaluating, and curating OERs, as well as supporting tools such as tip sheets, a learning resource evaluation checklist, an organizational and note-taking document, and examples of how to use these supplemental tools. The focus is on evaluating and curating content and the role Open Educational Resources can play in this process. Participants will leave with practical knowledge about using OERs that can be applied immediately.


Kanter, Beth. (2011, October 4) Re: Content Curation Primer [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.bethkanter.org/content-curation-101/

Lead Presenter

Eileen Horn is an instructional designer with the University of Wisconsin Extension, Continuing Education, Outreach, and E-Learning division. She works with faculty and other team members to design, develop, and deliver online courses. Eileen earned her Certificate in Distance Education from UW-Madison School of Education.
Selected Presentations:
2012. Course Tour: Creating teachable moments to engage students. 28th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning. Madison, WI: Continuing and Vocational Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
2012. Lessons learned from developing a case-based course. 28th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning. Madison, WI: Continuing and Vocational Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
2011. Collaborating with content experts: Lessons learned from successful and less-successful ventures. In Proceedings of the 27th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning. Madison, WI: Continuing and Vocational Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
2011. Practice Makes Perfect: Compressing a Decade into a Day Using Computer Gaming to Learn. Presented at the UW Madison 2011Teaching and Learning Symposium, University of Wisconsin.
2011. One Health/One Medicine: Collaborative Design and Dissemination of Learning. Presented in the Global Health Symposium, University of Wisconsin.
2006-2011. Learn2UW Info Sessions and Workshops. Conducted each semester for UW Madison School of Veterinary Medicine faculty.
2010. JD Consult: Immersion Learning and Expert Modeling. Presented in the Health Sciences Teaching Symposium, University of Wisconsin.
2005. An online program for all regions: Thinking globally-Implementing locally. In Proceedings of the 21st Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning. Madison, WI: Continuing and Vocational Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
2005. A national Johne's Disease veterinary certificate program program: Keys to success. In Proceedings of the 8th International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis. Copenhagen, Denmark: International Association for Paratuberculosis.