ISTE standard 7 for coaches Knowledge Constructor

Guiding students through the journey of digital curation

A key role for teachers is providing opportunities for students to reflect on their learning process in order to improve learning outcomes (ISTE standard for students 1a). With this in mind, I investigated the criteria that should be included in the creation of a rubric that will help students evaluate their skills and progress related to critically curating resources, constructing knowledge, producing creative artifacts and making meaningful learning experiences (ISTE standard for students 3c). As a teacher and student, I have found rubrics extremely helpful because they provide clear definitions of the learning targets, while showing a path to reaching one’s goals. Rubrics help teachers teach, but most importantly they help students learn, and evaluate their learning and progress. 

Teach searching skills first

Surfing Blind: a study into the effects of exposing young adolescents to explicit search engine skills is an Action Research that examines “the extent to which exposing young adolescents to explicit skills for using search engines affected their online searching” (p. 9). One finding from this study is that teachers are not always teaching skills on internet searching. Morrison explains that his study is one in many that suggests that while proficiency in online searching benefits students educationally and socially, yet a great number of students do not benefit because they lack effective searching skills. Morrison quotes Ladbrook & Probert who found “that teachers are rarely explicitly covering these skills in the classroom” (p. 16).  It concludes that we should not underestimate the importance of explicitly teaching such skills. Because searching the web is fundamentally necessary for the collection of resources to be curated, teachers need to make sure this step is taught thoroughly and carefully. Google Search Help is one quick reference resource students can access. Some of Google’s tips and tricks range from basic to expert search tips, including amongst others: using your voice, choosing words, finding quick answers, search operators, filtering and advanced searches. Nevertheless, searches should not be limited to only Google search engines. Students can also learn from the list included in the study, where Morrison asked students to self-report on the following searching behaviors:

Reflect on the connections between strategic searches and quality of resources

Strategic searches can help students find good quality resources. Searching strategies can be modeled as well as included as a checklist for students to reference while they conduct their searches. Teachers can also provide a checklist of indicators they should keep in mind as they gather resources. Then as a class, students can reflect on the kind of searches that rendered best quality resources. 

What is curation?

Before guiding students through the journey of digital curation, explain the importance of resource curation. The video What is content curation and why is it important? John Spencer explains in general terms and in less than three minutes, what curation is, what curators do and why curation is important. While the target audience for this video are teachers, this video can also be appealing to the 21st century learners who like clear and simple visual information.

Learn curating techniques from marketing professionals

The following recommendations come from the site, which is a site that provides weekly marketing insights. Although the content was not intended for students, the vocabulary and examples are simple and clear. They also provide an understanding of the present professional context adding relevance to the need in improving curation skills.

How to curate the correct way (from

Hand-pick content, cluster around specific topics and add your thoughts.

  1. Brainstorm topics you want to investigate.
  2. Narrow your list and select a specific topic.
  3. Determine where you are going to store and organize your resources
  4. Determine how you will share your final curated content
  5. Search for material reading thoroughly to make sure your selections are of good quality.
  6. Hand-pick by selecting the most appropriate and relevant material.
  7. Cluster the material in subtopics.
  8. Include a brief description for each selected material.
  9. Give proper credit to the author by including citations, tags and links to the original work.
  10. Include your own evaluation of the selected material.

Curation dos and don’ts (from

DoDo not
Add context: Include a brief explanation why you are sharing each particular content.Do not share too much or too many pieces of content, or provide content that is too general.
Give proper credit to the author by including citations, tags and links to the original work.Do not plagiarize by leaving content uncited or not giving proper accreditation to the author.
Use caution by thoroughly reading and checking that what you want to share is aligned with your values and views. Also check that your links work.Do not over share outside content. Balance the amount of content from outside sources with your own evaluation.
Experiment by sharing a variety of content types from different formats, such as video, guides, social media posts, articles, books, journals, newsletters, etc.Do not stray from the topic.

 The five Cs of Digital Curation

In the article The five Cs of Digital curation: Supporting 21st century teaching and learning (2015), Deschaine, and Sharma provide a theoretical framework for digital curation based on five processes: collection, categorization, critiquing, conceptualization, and circulation. This article explains the reasons behind each process, and provides examples for the implementation of each stage of the curation process. Although the suggestions from this article are intended for university professors, the steps are clear and can be taught to students and integrated as part of a project rubric.

InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching (p. 21)

A guide to digital curation

The following diagram includes examples of general, task-specific performance descriptors, and performance indicators as they would apply to ISTE standard for students Knowledge Constructor 3c, which teachers can use in the creation of rubrics for learning. While this diagram can serve as a starting point, teachers can include students in generating additional criteria and examples to define and describe desired qualities for their work. A link has been included for teachers to make a copy and modify the diagram as it is needed for the unique needs of their students. Additionally, students can use this resource to create a simple and more specific rubric that aligns with their learning goals.

Creating a rubric for learning

In the book How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading, Susan M. Brookhart explains the pros and cons of different types of rubrics, including analytic, holistic, general, and task-specific. She classifies these four kinds of assessment into two main groups, Holistic or Analytic and Description of Performance. Brookhart recommends that teachers use analytic rubrics in the classroom because “Focusing on the criteria one at a time is better for instruction and better for formative assessment because students can see what aspects of their work need what kind of attention.” She explains how holistic rubrics, while beneficial for simplifying the grading process, do not help students improve learning.

Rubrics should include coherent sets of appropriate criteria and well-written descriptions of levels of performance for specific criteria. While general rubrics include descriptions of performance in general terms so they can be reused with many different tasks and assignments that fit the performance, task-specific rubrics provide the specific description of work as it relates to a particular task.

According to Brookhart, “To write or select rubrics, teachers need to focus on the criteria by which learning will be assessed.” The following is a three level rubric that incorporates a specific performance component needed for digital curation. It explains the skill in general terms, and includes performance indicators that students can use as checkpoints to guide their learning. Students can also compare this rubric against samples provided by the teacher to make the connections between the criteria and examples. 


Teaching digital curation is a journey. It is important to remember that teachers serve as guides that help students continue their journey from where they are. Some students may have already mastered one skill, but may be lacking in others. Rubrics and performance indicators can help students determine their strengths and weaknesses and create their unique learning plan. Because of the extensive data against grading (read blog on Getting over Grading), I suggest that instead of using these rubrics for grading, teachers should use these rubrics to guide student learning.


Brookhart, S. M., (2013). How to create and use rubrics for formative assessment and grading. ASCD.

Deschaine, M., & Sharma, S., (2015). The five Cs of digital curation: Supporting twenty-first-century teaching and learning. InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 10, 10-24.

Gale, Y. (January 24, 2021) Getting over Grading.

Google Search Help. How to search on Google. Retrieved on February 7, 2021 from:

Morrison, R., (2016). Surfing Blind: a study into the effects of exposing young adolescents to explicit search engine skills, The Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference. Retrieved from (2021, February 5). Everything you need to know to curate content the right way.

Spencer, J. (February 6, 2021) What is content curation and why is it important for learning? [Video].

4 replies on “Guiding students through the journey of digital curation”

Hi Yanira, thank you for your thoughtful and practical post. I love how you open with addressing the most important skill – learning how to search more effectively. It is so interesting to note how this essential skill is often overlooked as something that needs to be taught to students.
Thank you also for the reminder that teachers should serve as learning guides for students and that rubrics are more effective when used to guide student learning rather than as a means for grading.

I noticed on a meta-level that you curated a variety of resources for the reader, including video, tables, links, templates, and more. A great way to demonstrate what you’re trying to help others do. I found the curation explainers particularly helpful as I’m trying to figure out how to create a positive internet presence – to build and add and help rather than to consume or break things.

As we curate online, do you think it’s better to focus on a particular social media site or blog, or do we need to be in multiple places these days? Thanks!

Reading your post was a great learning moment for me, as a teacher of students at a stage when they tend to dump data into their essays without adequate care or commentary. I frequently struggle with guiding and facilitating their management of sources and analysis. The concept of both curating sources and reflecting through rubrics seems like an ideal balance for helping them work toward being more considered in their writing and research.

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