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I'm an online instructor at the University of Oklahoma, happily teaching courses in Mythology & Folklore (#OU3043) and Indian Epics (#OU4993).

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Laura Gibbs

Top 3 Curation Tools for Reading

5 min read

Since I have been running a curation experiment here at Known this semester, I thought I would use this space to prep for the upcoming chat. I'll do two posts today, one about curation tools I use for READING (incoming) and the other about curation tools for SHARING (outgoing). [Update: Here is the post about sharing.]

... but here's the thing: the tools I use for reading ARE tools for sharing also! That is why I like these tools — Inoreader, Google+, Twitter — so much. In this post, I will focus on how I use these tools for reading, and in the other post I will flip the perspective and talk about how I use these tools for sharing.

Reading at INOREADER. I subscribe to lots of blogs and news feeds with Inoreader. I have a "must read education blogs" folder and a "higher education news" folder (Inside Higher Ed, Chronicle blogs, etc.) that I read religiously, along with an "OU feeds" folder for the (rare) blog post from my school. In addition to RSS standard feeds, Inoreader also allows you to subscribe to other social media: Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Since I am active at Twitter and Google+, I don't really read that content in Inoreader (although that feature is still very useful to me for purposes of sharing; more on that in another post), but I really value using Inoreader to collect Facebook feeds for my favorite Indian musicians.

Most days, that is all I have time to read, but that's plenty for me to feel like I am keeping up. If I ever felt like I needed more content to come into those folders, I'm sure I could go look for additional must-read blogs and education news feeds. But I think I've struck the right balance, especially since my reading is supplemented by the two sources below. I read Inoreader every day so I rarely get behind, but Inoreader is also very patient: because it uses a read/unread system (much like email), it's not a problem if I fall behind. It's very easy to get caught up.

 

Reading at GOOGLE+. This is my main personal network online (my G+ page), and I have a core circle of streams that I follow here. I don't always get to Google+ reader every day, and I don't always read everything in that core circle on the days I do find time, but that's okay. I just know that if I can find a half hour or, even better, an hour to spend at Google+, I will be the better for it!

Google+ is also a place for conversations, though, and that's why I sometimes miss out on Google+ on a given day: if I know that I am distracted and won't really have time to engage in some conversations as well as reading, I will skip Google+ for a day or two and then get back into it when I do have the time. I rarely go more than one or two days without a good Google+ romp, though (except for when I am out of town and totally offline).

Despite the search engine, Google+ is pretty useless for searching (the search options are bizarrely primitive: what's up with that, Google?). As time goes by, content becomes less and less easy to retrieve and access, so I really do miss lots of posts. But that's okay: I treat Google+ as a more ephemeral space for conversations, kind of like a giant cafe where people are hanging out online. I don't want or need to read everything, and I adjust my "must-read" circle so that I always can find something new but don't feel totally overwhelmed by the incoming posts in the stream.

 

Reading at TWITTER. I am latecomer to Twitter but it is now part of my everyday routine also. I have two Twitter accounts which I use for very different purposes: I have a "personal" account (OnlineCrsLady) which I use to follow people and programs at my school, and which I also use for Twitter chats and for participating in cMOOCs (I was much more active at Twitter when I was participating in ConnectedCourses for example). Then I also have a "class" account (OnlineMythIndia) which I use to follow content streams that are relevant to the classes I teach, and I am really amazed and delighted by the content I have found on Twitter this way.  More details:

OnlineCrsLady: I have devoted a lot of time and attention to building up the two University of Oklahoma lists that I follow pretty religiously: OU faculty/staff and OU programs. I rarely have time to do more than follow those two lists, but when I get a chance I follow the  hashtag. Since I find Twitter conversations so difficult, I don't really read much from people at Twitter aside from people at my school, even though many educators whom I really admire use Twitter very actively. For that kind of interaction, though, I prefer Google+ where conversations (at least for me) come much more easily.

OnlineMythIndia: Especially for the India class, Twitter has been an amazing resource. Through the great author William Dalrymple, I hooked up with a circle of people who share beautiful Indian art every day. Then I found other Indian authors at Twitter like Chitra Divakaruni, Samhita Arni, and Devdutt Pattanaik. That is really thrilling! I also follow some great content sources like the Smithsonian, OpenCulture, New York Public Library, Atlas Obscura, and on and on. Again, the "must-read" list I keep for this account is an ongoing balancing act, making sure I have plenty to read whenever I want but without feeling overwhelmed. I know that if I wanted to find more content out there to follow, I could!