The redefinition of list-making: what does it mean to teachers?

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Why do we make lists? Jillian Steinhauer  in a 2012 blog post  says “We are a society of listers.” In other words, we could all be called “glazomaniacs” according to which defines “glazomania” as a passion for list-making.

We seem to enjoy lists: to-do lists, grocery lists, best-sellers lists, new year resolution lists and blog posts such as “10 BYOD apps for ELT”. But why? Umberto Eco in a very interesting interview to Der Spiegel talks about the place of lists in society. He says: “The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order.” He goes on to say that as human beings we try to understand and organize infinity through lists, catalogs, collections and dictionaries.

His explanation of lists as a means to organize infinity reminds me of the internet and its myriad of information. How can we make sense of all the information we have available in order to build knowledge? Searching, collecting, analyzing and creating content is done by most of us on a daily basis. This is what many people have been calling as the curation of digital content.

Although lists have been around us forever, the internet and curation tools have redefined the practice of list-making. In the past, I would jot down on a piece of paper a list of items which were relevant to me. It was an individual practice. Now, as Bhatt (2014) points out, “Digital curation is not just about finding relevant material, but is also about creating a specific and unique experience by utilising the resulting materials which then become contextualised within a new space.” Moreover, curating can now be a collaborative activity, where different people from around the world can join efforts in order to  “bring order to the chaos” and benefit not only one person but others who can contextualize the materials within their spaces.

As an example, I’ll share my own experience. When I started integrating cell phone activities to my classes, I asked myself: what kind of cross-platform apps could I use with my EFL students? Some of them had androids and other idevices. I was looking for a list of free apps which were device neutral and appropriate for English Language Teaching. Considering the fact that I couldn’t find such a list, I decided to start one myself. But I was just starting this search and imagined it would take a very long time to put this list together on my own. So, why not invite other teachers to join me? Maybe this list would be useful to other EFL/ ESL teachers.

Among several digital curation tools such as Diigo, Pinterest, Learnist, Pearltrees and many others, I opted for LIST.LY. And why? Well, first as a glazomaniac myself, I love the linear aspect of the lists produced there. Second, the list can be collaborative, so I would be able to build the list with other teachers’ help. Third, I like the fact that each suggested item has a visual element (a thumbnail image), a link which can easily take you to the website or app you’d like to try, a description and a space for comments. And a  plus is the possibility for anyone viewing the list to vote for each item.

The result of this collaborative work has made my life so much easier and why not say richer. This is not MY list anymore, it’s OUR LIST. List-making for me or curating content doesn’t need to be a solitary experience any longer.

If you would like to join our list of BYOD apps for ELT, feel free to add your contribution. If not, you can also just explore the several items suggested by each one of us.

Hope you find our list useful and worth exploring.


BHATT (2014) Curation as Digital Literacy Practice. Retreived from:

Der Spiegel interview with Umberto Eco (2009)

STEINHAUER (2012) 127 Reasons why we are fascinated by lists. Retrieved from:

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Ana Maria Menezes

Ana Maria Menezes is an EFL teacher, technology coordinator at Cultura Inglesa Uberlândia, online moderator, researcher and teacher developer in Brazil. She holds an M.A. in Linguistic Studies with special interest in teacher development in online environments. She blogs at, where she writes about educational technologies.

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