As autodidacts drive a concept through their PLE, they engage in many activities: locating content and evaluating it for its usefulness in exploring/explaining some aspect of the concept, organizing it into a useful, accessible format, and then applying and remixing it to explore and present their findings. In sharing their knowledge, they connect with others interested in the concept, building their knowledge through the exchange of ideas and teaching others about the concept in ways a traditional learning experience can’t always accomplish.
One of the ways to accomplish this is through curation. Remember the first definition of curation I threw at you last week. An autodidact has to be able to take these different resources and remix them in the context of her current studies. You can even do it publicly through social media sites designed to let you bookmark and tag socially, effectively designing what have now been dubbed “learning playlists”. When you develop a learning playlist, you’re effectively curating material for yourself and then presenting that for comment and criticism from others who are similarly interested.
Curating is good not only for directing one’s learning and connecting with fellow learners and potential mentors. It can also help an autodidact show off her own knowledge and expertise in her chosen fields. By showing that you’re able to cull out the best and most useful information (or the most interesting little tidbits), you show that you truly understand the topic and the issues that surround it. When others see what you know, then they’ll look to you for the best updates on the topic because you so clearly have a handle on it.
Curation is a useful tool for everyone involved in the learning process because it allows for focused research, better understanding, and the ability to share that new knowledge with others.