Writing Teams vs. Curation Teams

I did a little research because I didn’t want to assume… But, as far as I can tell, many school districts in Canada and in the United States call a group of educators writing together a “writing team.” They assemble writing teams to write curriculum resources for teachers, documents that promote best practices in assessment, instructional design, effective teaching, summaries of new research about educational practices, and so on. I’ve written on a few writing teams.

My question is this: When is a writing team appropriate and when is a curation team appropriate? By the way, I’m not sure any district has ever formally organized a curation team… I just made that term up. But, in any case, it would seem to me that, there will be contexts in which the best resources are the most current resources or newest resources.  If innovation is the goal, then a static resource might not cut it.

Some might argue that curation is often one component of what writing teams do. They review research and summarize what is most applicable to the educational practice being addressed. That might be but my idea is different. My idea is the idea that the team is committed to an ongoing project of specific knowledge curation, and not a big one time creation.

My point is that I think there should be careful thought put into the nature of the knowledge that is to be created. When is it more appropriate, or necessary, to have static knowledge created and when it is more appropriate for the creation of resources that are dynamic, that is, updated, edited, and improved on a regular basis? I would love to see three kinds of knowledge creation teams in action: writing teams, curation teams, and hybrid teams.

For example, the thoughtful review and presentation of careful, painstaking, peer-reviewed research into certain educational practices might be more suitable for writing teams. I think the Ontario Ministry of Education’s collection of monographs called the Capacity Building Series is an excellent example of a very useful (yet static) set of resources for educators.

Much of my own professional work in education involves technology and new innovations and new ideas are shared daily. Let’s say a school district wanted to assemble a writing team about using coding in the classroom to support learning and thinking. This might be a job for a curation team. Instead of meeting for several days or weeks to write a single resource, the team would meet regularly through the year for short periods of time and curate (review, select, annotate, organize, share) resources on an ongoing basis.

I think it’s harder to find dynamically created/curated resources because they don’t look like traditional knowledge. I think a wiki is the killer app for ongoing knowledge creation but I’m not sure about curation. There are lots of curation tools (for example, storify) but perhaps the choice of curation tool is bound to the context and purpose of the content.

I think there is great potential for a hybrid team to write/collect a solid core set of resources and then to be bound by an ongoing mandate to curate resources… to keep improving, adding to, culling, and annotating so that they are as useful, practical and as fresh as possible.


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