Educators often see the Internet as a double-edged sword. While the Web provides nearly limitless information on any given topic, that information is often unfiltered, unedited and unfocused. That’s where Marc Rougier and his company, Scoop.it, come in. While their tools were originally created to help marketers and entrepreneurs increase their online visibility, the company quickly discovered that teachers and students found the curation tool invaluable.
“Since the explosion of Web 2.0,” Rougier says, “we live in a world of information overload: everyone has become a producer of information.” This abundance of information, according to Rougier, has generated a double problem: “If everyone can speak, to whom should I listen?” (a problem of qualification of information — extracting the signal from the noise), and “If everyone can speak, how can I get heard?” (a problem of acquiring visibility, reputation, and a voice).
Rougier and Scoop.it concluded that curation is the critical solution to these challenges. Says Rougier, “Curators use their expertise or passion for specific subjects to select and filter content. But also, by doing so, they express themselves: they write their own story, not by adding new content, but by organizing existing content – and they can subsequently acquire a voice as ‘passers’ of qualified information.”
Rougier’s company is now addressing the rapidly changing information management needs of both teachers and students, and working to understand how their tool can evolve for the education market. Today, Rougier shares what they’ve learned from educators so far, and what he believes educators must do to adapt to the pace and volume of information enabled by the Internet.
To start with, here is the video of his last speech at the TEDx PantheonSorbonne for our French speakers.
Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?
I’m not a professor. I’m an entrepreneur. We launched a product called Scoop.it, designed to help people edit magazines by means of curation. Curation is the act of searching, selecting, editing and sharing information.
Because information is a critical resource, any technology, trend or usage that contributes to organizing information – and therefore the way we discover and consume it – is important. Curation has become an important force in the web, which is otherwise organized by the more or less secret algorithms of search engines and the people-centric graphs of social media. Curation offers an alternative (or a complement): an organization by human beings, based on the meaning of content, and leading to the Interest Graph.
While Scoop.it was initially intended for individuals and businesses, we’re seeing a growing usage by educators and professors, with thousands of them now using it on a daily basis for all sort of educational missions, from personal coaching to group projects in college to research in universities. We’ve therefore engaged in a discussion with them to understand their motivations and their needs. Two major use cases emerged, both based on a clear statement: information management (find, qualify, contextualize, share) is a crucial challenge of our world and education needs to address it.
The first use case is the use of Scoop.it by professors to improve their own information management, especially with respect to “fast moving” information streams.
Scoop.it has become a tool of choice for capturing and leveraging “fast passing” information, which the web constantly feeds us with. In a structured academic environment, information is mainly organized according to long-term schemes, such as libraries. The web doesn’t fit in such schemes: information from the web is too abundant, and furthermore most of it is useless, redundant, or rapidly obsolete. However, the web is a magnificent source of real-time information – doubled with a vibrant social touch; and every now and then, a gem is offered to us. Trying to organize this fantastic source with tools such as Facebook or Twitter does not work: they are not topic-centric and they are not time-resilient (they are designed to speak and listen to people in real time, while professors want to speak and listen about topics and be able to capture, enrich, record and retrieve the best of them).
Scoop.it properly fits this space between the academic library (time resistant, well structured, but slow moving) and the social media (real time, “alive,” but not well organized and too fast passing). Professors therefore use Scoop.it to capture, organize, potentially enhance with their own context or perspective, and then distribute topic-centric information which they discover on the web – information which is too “fast moving” to be stored in a structured library but way too worthy to be dissolved in the foolish flow of time.
Here is an example of a great curation by Seth Dixon, Ph.D., on Geography Education:
Here is another example, curated by Felix Jacomino, on technology in Education:
And a “science magazine” curated by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald:
And about using the iPad in the classroom, by Jon Samuelson:
Many other examples can be found by searching “education” in www.scoop.it.
The second use case is the usage of Scoop.it by students themselves, under the supervision of their professors. Here, the mission is to get students aware of the importance of information management — to let them really touch, first hand, the challenge of qualification and organization of data – whatever their subject of study. We live in a world of information abundance and (almost) information democracy. Yet, if we are not prepared for it, we can be force-fed by a very small amount of data (a unique video seen a billion times…) and even by false information, and let a vast amount of valuable data be wasted. Students of all ages must be trained to search, select, qualify (and therefore disqualify), then enrich with their own thought, and then use and share information. Using Scoop.it, students can work in groups and collaborate on editing online magazines on their topics of choice. Their effort is spent researching and analyzing information and the result is a sharable collection of valuable data, in the form of an easy-to-read magazine. While this use case is effective for students of all ages, all countries and all majors, I was specifically touched by this super nice project by a college in Istanbul:
What has changed as a result of your efforts?
The usage of Scoop.it in education was a serendipitous, and happy, evolution. Since we realized it, we’ve worked to deliver an education-friendly version, which is used by more and more people and organizations around the world (education is now one of the top five major topics covered by our community!). We know that its usage has made information management easier for professors and has helped students to better understand how information management is critical. But let’s be humble about this: Scoop.it is just a facilitator here. The efforts are the professors’ efforts.
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
To state the obvious, education must embrace the Internet. Not blindly: education must embrace the Internet and smartly leverage it. But denying that information is now free and abundant would be a mistake. By leveraging the Internet and its associated technologies (social media, mobile devices, etc.) we can leap a giant step forward in the area of information access and collaboration. We can access any information, anytime from anywhere. And we can also connect with people all over the world and share ideas and efforts. This has tremendous value, of course. Education needs to leverage these fantastic enablers of knowledge. But education should also be ready for them: while it’s obviously good to be able to access information and people, one now needs to be better taught how to search, qualify and organize information. And one needs to be better taught how to work remotely – which is not only a “tool” challenge, but also a cultural challenge: we can now collaborate with people speaking different languages and thinking in different referentials. Instantaneous and nearly free access doesn’t mean that all barriers are gone!
What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?
I have the highest respect for professors, who carry out one of the most important tasks of humankind. Beyond Scoop.it, I’m also an occasional teacher in several universities where I teach entrepreneurship. Being smartly open to the Internet is advice that I need to reiterate. But my prime advice to anyone wanting to make a difference is to remember that when we face students, our mission is to help them be ready to build the future (theirs and ours, by the way) and not to force them to digest our beliefs, which, with all due respect for history (and I love history), are coming from the past. This subtle balance between yesterday and tomorrow is critical. A student who loves tomorrow will succeed.
About Marc Rougier
- Birthplace: Villemomble, France
- Current residence: Toulouse, France
- Education: Engineer
- Website I check every day: www.scoop.it
- Person who inspires me most: Beethoven: he decided to create his own music – hence to walk his own personal path – despite so many adverse conditions. And he eventually created ground-breaking masterpieces in the toughest of times. He never gave up on creation and humankind.
- Favorite book: Samarkand by Amin Maalouf. History, adventure, poetry, love… it has it all!
- Favorite music: Please not this question! So much music from Claudio Monterverdi to Rabih Abou Khalil.
- Your favorite quote or motto: “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein