The role of the curator: managing collections of learning materials and the need for a storyteller.

I’ve got a great book on the history of the Ordnance Survey. Essentially a definitive history, with some beautiful illustrations and descriptions of the early pioneering work. It pulls together various earlier histories and tells an epic story of adventure and discovery. But i can’t find it. I mean, i know it’s here somewhere, but buried under a pile of other books on polar travel, learning to garden or popular psychology. Or maybe i lent it to a friend. It should be on the shelf near to the other books on maps and travel, but somehow it got lost.

Having access to information is one thing, but being able to find it again is quite another. Google, and it’s stablemates, are great tools for finding information, but they don’t (as yet) curate it.

The role of the curator is to bring together collections of artefacts and to interpret them for the viewer or reader. It’s as relevant to businesses as it is to museums, because both organisations have a desire to help people learn key things and to tell coherent stories. And storytelling is what it’s all about.

Social media tools like are geared up to help with this. It’s a tool that lets you curate web links, to build your own ‘magazine’ of content. For example, here’s a collection about building personal learning networks in education:

You can build your collection over time, creating an expanding resource list and interacting with other authors and curators. And there’s nothing to stop it being used by businesses to curate their own collections for learners (although it’s an open platform, so only suitable for freely available content). Not suitable for everything, but certainly fine for soft skills training or coaching articles.

There is a deeper, underlying point here as well: that in the information age, we still need a storyteller. There is a need for someone to take on the role of the guide, not just with, but with any learning site or programme. It’s not enough to throw material out at people, we need to curate it, to help shape it into a coherent story.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
This entry was posted in Journalism, Knowledge, Learning, Social Media, Storytelling and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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