Curation (noun): "the selection and presentation of items from among a large number of possibilities for other people to consume and enjoy; used especially in relation to digital material." (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/curation)
A significant, treasured, and respected responsibility of a librarian is curator. Through open educational resources (OER) curation we extend our library collection to include digital resources supporting curriculum, standards, activities, clubs, and personal and community interests. Historical research shows us that patrons, no matter their age or level of education, tend to go to their preferred search engine and trust the first results page, the first handful of hits, even those labeled with the paid hierarchy of "sponsored." Sometimes, the searcher will give up without success. On an average day, a person may be in such a hurry for information, they will waive value for expediency when what should really matter is locating the most accurate, valuable, valid, up-to-date, and relevant resources, tools, and information.
This is where a librarian parlays a valuable skill into much needed resources as we are experienced and well-trained for quality, topical curation. Curating OER pathfinders is a nonlinear and ongoing process. Library OER curation is a blend of traditional pathfinder and toolkit curated and distributed through technology.
Be very specific about where to begin. Prioritize and select the topics you curate for OER. Which are most important, of critical need, and value added for your community? Stay focused on the core need and don't get distracted by the glow of related or peripheral thoughts. Pick a subject that matters based on the standards, curriculum, interviews, surveys, and/or professional discussions and meetings. For example, after evaluating the curriculum map, standards, and recent department meetings, I knew I needed to develop a pathfinder for descriptive writing. After working with the robotics team and the art teacher and attending professional development meetings with social studies, I knew I needed to create one for digital graphics that included design tools, copyright compliance, and royalty free resources.
This is the phase I consider due diligence. Research the topic, including it's progression through time forward to current trends based on advancements in research, technology, and knowledge. Collect related brick-and-mortar and digital information and resources that are worthy of consideration.
While the research phase is fun, and it can be entertaining to collect (or hoard) anything and everything, not all of the resources will be worth keeping. It is necessary to verify each for quality, purpose, value, content, accessibility, format, and bias. Weed those you consider unworthy or not a good fit when aligning to your quality criteria such as your defined need or patrons' skill/age.
Sort and organize OER in a logical manner for the subject matter and content. Always include a link to the resources available within the walls of the library. Group resources within the pathfinder based on the ease for the end user. It may not be conducive to the user to place all videos in a group or to group all podcasts together. Instead it may be more logical for the user, if you group resources by concept or place tools in one section, training in another area, and history and research in a third location. You might for example place OER on public domain, royalty free images in one section and editing tools and apps in another section of your "Stop Motion Video" pathfinder.
A pathfinder has value when used. For an OER pathfinder to be effective, it needs to be shared and promoted. The intended audience needs to be able to access it with ease. There are many free resource collection and bookmarking tools out there to use, with more being published regularly. Select the one that best fits the needs for your age group, graphical preferences, ease of use, and audience appeal, as well as being easy for you to learn and maintain (and what you think is easy may be different from another OER curator), and still will allow graphical organization and grouping of resources on one webpage.
OER is an ongoing process. Once your digital OER pathfinder page is established, it requires ongoing review and collection development diligence. Current content should be re-evaluated with some periodically discarded. New content should be considered on an ongoing basis as new digital connections emerge.
The librarian's role as OER curator is serious business in our world where information and misinformation and one-click downloads/uploads and threats to cybersafety are always close at hand via compact and powerfully connected technology like smartphones and tablets. As our field continues to adapt, it is our professional responsibility to be actively engaged in OER. It is a new phase, an advancement, in collection development. As you develop and incorporate OER pathfinders into your collection, OER curation should be added to the school or school district collection development policy or handbook.