By Chris Frederick Willis, CEO, Media 1
In my previous article, Your New Role: Learning Content Curator, I underscored the need for corporate learning professionals to begin to let go of content creation and start nurturing a content curation mindset. According to global marketing strategy guru Rohit Bhargava, a content curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes, and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online. As content curators for corporate learning, we are tasked with providing context and filters for learning content that not only guide learners to the appropriate formal learning opportunities, but also furnish timely informal assets their peers and managers develop and publish.
By donning the content curator hat on top of a strong foundation in instructional design and performance consulting, we open doors to a new incarnation of interactive online learning. We begin to break through the traditional boundaries previously imposed on learning content. Content curation requires that we move away from delivering corporate learning as a loose collection of independent e-learning courses. It requires new learning strategies and technologies. But if cramming a corporate LMS full of new courses isn’t the path to the future of learning, where do we start?
You’re Probably Already Curating Content
If you actively use social media, you likely already have participated in content curation. Any time you share a link to content you have not created, you are a content curator. You are providing a filter, directing your readers to a specific target in a sea of information clutter. You also are providing context—that is, the understanding of why the link may be meaningful to your audience at that particular point in time, especially if you add a few words of explanation. Curation makes information mining much more efficient than unguided search and allows readers to focus on digesting the provided content under the assumption it already has been vetted as worthy of their time and attention. This is no more or less true if you are sending a link to an article by an industry guru or a fresh service bulletin to your internal business team…or forwarding that video of a cute Jack Russell Terrier to your fellow dog-loving Facebook friends.
If you have ever developed learning content, you are wired for content curation. Consider the types of links you have shared in the past. You may recognize that curation skills are similar to those we have used for years in supporting traditional classroom or online learning content:
These activities all exercise similar content curation muscles:
Content Curation in Corporate Learning
Now you’re ready to put content curation into practice at your workplace. Where do you start? Here are a few content curation strategies we’ve implemented at Media 1 to give you inspiration:
A simple solution that can offer high value: Offer a curated Resource Page containing links to additional reading at the end of your next e-learning course, along with a few descriptive lines to provide context. If you are concerned about maintaining links within a course, provide a single link to a resource page on your intranet for easier updates. Be sure to consider internal or external blogs or podcasts that you know consistently provide helpful content, and while you have their attention, don’t forget printable job aids or worksheets.
Course as a Portal
Blackboard or Moodle users, consider setting up a “course” that is a reference portal to organized, curated resource links for a department or job function. In essence, use the framework as a content management system for your curated content.
To avoid unruly “data dump” portals, enlist SharePoint logic and workflows to help further filter large amounts of curated content by subject or relevance. For example:
Moderated Learning Community
Develop a moderated Community of Practice, enlisting dedicated mentors or guides to curate content in their area of expertise. Consider the model of the moderated learning community Mahlo.com:
Mahalois the world’s first human-powered search engine powered by an enthusiastic and energetic group of Guides. Our Guides spend their days searching, filtering out spam, and hand-crafting the best search results possible. If they haven’t yet built a search result, you can request that search result. You also can suggest links for any of our search results.
As a bonus, offer moderated discussion boards to encourage learners to share ideas around curated content. Or, scale back and set up a series of moderated wikis for a simplified approach.
Educate your blogging managers and subject matter experts (SMEs) on the art and value of high- quality content curation around a theme that is meaningful to them and valuable to the continuous growth of your learners. Targeted curation eases the burden of always having to work through completely new ideas and allows busy writers to scaffold on the foundational ideas set forth by others. At the same time, it builds organizational knowledge by personally directing learners to relevant content that is already available but may otherwise be overlooked.
Throughout each of these strategies, the running theme is to enlist yourself and other knowledgeable and passionate SMEs to filter and provide context to the resource materials that they value the most—trusting that your knowledge also will provide value to others interested in the same subject. Over time, through competent content curation, the communities and portals we develop and support will become sought out as trusted sources of sustainable learning and performance in their own right—despite the learning content not being delivered as a formal course.
Chris Frederick Willis is CEO of Media 1, a consultancy specializing in integrating people, technology, and performance to drive Human Capital Improvement (HCI). Willis is passionate about melding the best practices of multiple disciplines and the power of SharePoint technology to support integrated learning and talent management—developing innovative solutions for onboarding, sales, and leadership. She has led dozens of corporate learning projects from conception to delivery, and speaks and writes about the power of social media and collaborative technology to shape the future of learning.