Let’s face it, you can never have enough learning content. Employees are looking for more resources to bolster their knowledge, and it can actually be a determining factor when looking for a new job or deciding whether or not to stay at their current job.1 While there will never be a substitute for learning materials created by and created for your specific employees, there are ways to supplement your current offerings. But it can be quite an effort to create enough learning content from scratch to satisfy these needs when you consider the expectations that people have these days regarding the availability of information.
"As you train, think of your employees as consumers. They are used to getting 500,000 results per search on Google, YouTube automatically playing related videos based on what they’ve just watched, and Netflix suggesting content matches based on viewing pattern algorithms. For the learning consumer, training clips on your YouTube channel, a classroom training session, a MOOC (massive online open course) or a post shared on Facebook Workplace are elements that can be turned into learning content."
Enter the addition of content curation. Content curation is the process of finding, sorting, ranking, aggregating and contextualizing available content that makes the most sense for your learners. Is it a guaranteed substitute for generating your own specific learning content? Absolutely not, however, it can be an effective means of engaging your learners in addition to your own generated learning.
Curation reduces development time for learning content. For most basic or supplemental subjects, it will be more efficient to source pre-existing learning material over creating each asset yourself. Partnering with a Learning Experience Platform (LXP) or a training solution that curates training content will also save you time and energy in citing and crediting sources, or re-writing content to avoid copyright infringement.
Curation keeps your learning material current. By nature, the process of curation keeps the learning material relevant but also updated from a technical standpoint. If done properly, the periodic checks that should be done on the material will ensure that the assets are still relevant to the job duties and company culture, but also that links to these assets are still active and pointed correctly.
Curation allows you to utilize your resources efficiently. There may be areas of training where pre-existing assets can teach your users as effectively as any material you could create in-house. We cannot be subject matter experts in every field, but we ARE subject matter experts in our PARTICULAR field. In this case, your learning and development resources can be used in ways to maximize their strengths and specialties. Use your resources to develop the assets and courses that require more Learning Design, Instructional Design, or SME insight to be tailored specifically to your users’ needs.
Curated content can enhance workplace engagement. Curation can create a level of personalization and socialization that may not exist in a company’s current training environment. Instead of only prescribed, formal learning, curated content can represent informal learning paths which can be more attractive for employees who want more control and flexibility over their learning. Platforms that curate effectively can offer recommendations for additional resources based on previous selection patterns, drawing the learner back even when the learning is not required. Many platforms that are dedicated to curation also include social learning aspects as well as gamification or recognition for the learners. Assets that get ranked because of colleague participation foster interest as well as promote a collaborative learning space. All of these encourage learning as an ongoing, organic process, rather than something that is only done when instructed.
There will always be a desire to customize. Every organization has specific ways that training is developed and delivered. Whether it is in the actual content as it relates to your organization’s guidelines or specifications, or in the “feel” of the content as it relates to your organization’s culture, there will always be ways that you wish you could tweak the content. Since these are outside resources, you cannot make changes.
It brings the “eh, close enough” effect into play. Relying too heavily on curated content can lead to concessions. If your only source for training material is outside resources, and you are not tailoring your content to the personalities and needs of your learners, it opens the door to learning assets that resemble the training that you want to provide, but don’t quite fit. You want the material to be relevant, and to be relevant it also needs to speak to the learner. From the learner’s point of view, learning is already a task. Now imagine trying to learn while also trying to figure out how a generalized asset makes sense within their working or learning environment. This adds to the cognitive load, but also can be a detractor from seeking out other learning opportunities.
Momentum needs to be maintained. While the enthusiasm for well-curated content can rapidly add to the learners’ experience and the learning culture of your organization, that momentum is something that needs to be up-kept. If the content or flow of content becomes stale, users can lose interest quickly. As with the use of other engagement tactics such as interactivity, each instance can either solidify or erode the trust that the user has with the content.
Have an established plan to sustain momentum. Whether this is a dedicated cadence to the review and evaluation of each asset, or a scheduled roll-out plan asset, your offerings are a relationship with the users. Make sure that each asset meets a goal, is useful, and has a purpose in your working or learning environment. Content curation needs to be part of the evaluation of your learning strategy as a whole.
Blend curated content with formal learning. Find ways to tie your formal, tailored learning to supplemental curated content, and vice versa. There should be a connection between the formal offerings and the opportunities for further learning. Set the stage for the learners to continue exploring related topics at their own pace. The self-exploration process can lead them right back to the formal assets in a refreshed way.
Anticipate changes in learning needs. Make plans for continuing enhancements to the offerings. The purpose of curated content is to add a level of dynamism. Don’t let your learning assets get stuck in a rut. Analyze where the needs of the learners will be in the near future and start gathering resources to meet those needs.