Curatr: Create a social learning experience

Curatr is a tool that allows you to assemble learning objects to create a social learning environment. You can use the platform to create a social learning game.

The technology (or what are my powers?)

Curatr comes in free and less free versions which have more features. You can read more about the features of Curatr here.

What motivates you?
Curatr is built on the idea that intrinsic motivation is a vital part of learning experiences  (despite the fact that the site itself often refers to extrinsic motivators like level markers and points). Intrinsic motivation is the idea that you will engage in an activity because you want to do it (in game speak, because it’s fun). Perceptions of autonomy, competence, and relatedness (social interactions) are important drivers when it comes to engaging in activities that are more complex than simple behaviors, i.e., most of the activities you probably want your learner to engage in.

The platform is set up to allow learners to:

  • dive into content according to their personal preferences
  • explore level challenges
  • demonstrate mastery and
  • interact with other learners

For an overview of what Curatr looks like to a learner, view the video below. (Part 1 provides a general discussion of important concepts relating to motivation.)

Leveling up
You get started with Curatr by creating a “museum” of learning objects organized into levels. Despite this name, your mission in creating a museum is not to develop a passive user experience, but one in which students can pull content from a variety of sources as suits their interests and needs.

Levels can be developed around learning objectives (I’m using the term interchangeably with performance objectives, because I think the two are intertwined). You can set challenges for your learners to complete in order to progress to a second level. Challenges can include a multiple choice quiz or a social challenge, i.e., a question that actually requires thought. In the latter case, the learner can view answers of his/her peers and vote answers up or down.

To get an overview of creating Curatr levels, watch the video below.

Creating learning objects
As mentioned, levels include learning objects. These objects can include web pages, text files, pdfs, videos, etc. You can also add text directly using the text entry option. There’s also a bulk import option that allows you to import objects from a spreadsheet. Whenever you add a learning object, you can add a description. You can use this field to provide context for the object, create some scaffolding, suggest problem-solving activities that the learner can engage in after interacting with the object, and/or pose questions for reflection.

Making it social
You can invite selected users via email as shown in the video below.

As learners join in and participate, they  also can add their own learning objects to a levels. Thus, learners can learn from museum curators and from each other.

Instructional strategies

As you might imagine, Curatr gives you a tool to create versatile learning experiences. An important point made in this video by Ben Betts, Creative Director of Curatr,  is that merely providing optional access to a social platform via an elearning tool  won’t make learners interact with each other in any meaningful way; the social platform has to be an integral part of the tool, created with the learners’ experiences and needs in mind.

A note about the game-like aspect of Curatr
While Curatr allows learners to obtain rewards for mastery of levels and to view and rate other members’ participation, this by itself won’t turn your Curatr museum into a game. That’s all about the content and the interactions you bring into Curatr as you create your museum. Still, the tool provides tremendous opportunities to get creative in crafting a playground for your learners. Just don’t fall into the trap of using Curatr as a standard testing and reporting tool. As noted in this “Tips and Tricks” post on the Curatr site, start with a plan, identify goals, craft objectives that reflect real learning needs, and invite test users to kick the tires of your learning museum and find out what brings out the creative side of your learners.  And of course, have some fun with it.

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