The first thing to do when planning your content curation strategy is to consider what content curation is, how it applies to your organisation and your learners and what you want it to achieve.
What is content curation?
Content curation is an approach to learning that enables L&D professionals to collate playlists of resources on important topics and share them with employees as and when they need them.
Those resources could be internal and/or external content such as blog posts, news stories, research links, a message from the CEO, a YouTube tutorial and so on that help create an active learning culture. Many organisations are now providing curated learning platforms and enjoying great success with them, including Greystar, a leader in real estate management and development .
It sounds simple, but there’s a lot more to content curation than just creating some playlists. Content curation requires sense-making and filtering. You need to know where to look to find good quality content and what to do with it. You don’t just hit send on everything you find. You have to identify the best, the most relevant and useful content for your audience and present it in a way that will work for them.
Why your business needs a content curation strategy
Back in 2018, Martin Couzins, learning expert and editor of LearnPatch, conducted a research to find out how well the L&D profession understood content curation. And the results showed that there was much confusion.
The good news is that today L&D professionals know much more about content curation than they did two years ago.
Content curation gained a lot of traction throughout 2020, as Covid-19 bit. People needed to know about the latest government and scientific announcements and what it meant to them on a professional and personal level. They needed to know about changing organisational policies and procedures, about how to make the transition to home working, and how to connect with colleagues. They needed all this information in real time, at their fingertips, with lots of signposting.
Maintain connections and knowledge share
Employees also needed to maintain connections with their virtual colleagues to share knowledge, insights and information. That need continues whether people are working remotely, from the office, or a mix of both. 5App’s Digital Hub facilitates communication, knowledge sharing and collaboration, on a small and a large scale.
Support new ways of working
Hemsley Fraser, an organisation that delivers and manages learning experiences, used the Hub to great effect to help it shift to digital operations during the pandemic. A 5App business partner, Hemsley Fraser had already been using the Hub for several years, but in 2020, it pushed forward with an ambitious transformation programme that brought it into the digital age. The company is now reporting higher levels of productivity, communications, collaboration and a greatly improved learning culture.
Developing a content curation strategy as an approach to learning design
Whether you’re curating learning, a Spotify playlist, a gallery space, exhibits in a museum you need to care about the end result and have your audience front of mind.
So what is the purpose of curated learning and how will it benefit your learners and your organisation? Your initial steps should focus on knowing your audience and your desired outcomes. Then you can develop your content curation strategy by mapping out how to get there and what your success markers look like.
Talk to your learners
But don’t be fixed. You should approach curation with an open and enquiring mindset. Encourage that mindset around the organisation too. Talk to your learners. Find out what their needs are. Encourage them to identify their own learning needs. It’s very easy for people, whether it’s L&D, a senior leader or an employee, to assume they know the answers to problems, a training solution that solves everything. And it’s very easy for everyone else to go along with that, without looking at key organisational challenges and the resources that need to be curated around those challenges.
One aspect of learning design is how you present your curated learning. Like museum creators providing information and context around their exhibitions in the form of audio guides, brochures, etc, L&D professionals need to provide supporting information, context and the meaning behind the learning messages. ‘This playlist will be useful because...’, for example. Consider all the little (but important) extras too: icons to highlight different media formats, links to further resources, a reading time and so on.
Content curation and personal knowledge management
This is about what you do with the content you find, how you acquire it and how you assess its worth and validity. We are all bombarded with content, all the time, at work and out of work. How do we make sense of all that noise? How do we sift through to find what we needand discard what’s not relevant? Couzins talks about his mantra of Find, Filter, Share. Another learning expert, Harold Jarche, talks about Seek, Sense and Share.
Whatever terminology you use, seek information of good quality, reliable, accurate and relevant. Then make sense of it and share it. It’s critical that you establish the provenance of information before sharing it. Why? Because there is so much content out there that is low quality, that doesn’t amount too much and is misleading. And, of course, there’s the problem of fake news and misinformation. So check, check, check. If necessary, triangulate content against other sources.
Remember that the content you curate and share reflects on you. You want to use reliable, authoritative, good sources of content. You don’t want to share stuff that people don’t find relevant or useful or interesting. Not only will the curated learning not land, it will also impact on your professional and personal reputation.
Content curation and organisational knowledge management
Once you’ve honed your curation skills, it’s time to share what you’ve learned with others and develop their curation skills. No one person or department has responsibility for curated learning. It’s something everybody could be doing and there will be many people in your organisation who would make great content curators. Your job is to help them. Find out who the subject experts and the influencers are in the organisation and get them on board. That way your curated learning strategy can be amplified and grow into something bigger and better.
Think about trialing it amongst yourselves in the L&D department first. Doing this enables you to establish how the process works for different people and what needs adjusting. You can also hone your communication piece about why this is important and how to approach it. L&D really needs to model the behaviours it wants the rest of the organisation to follow.
Technology is key to your content curation strategy
It’s almost impossible to talk about a content curation strategy without talking about technology and curated learning platforms. Technology is, of course, fundamental to curation. Without it, content curation wouldn't happen. Your technology has to enable connections to be made, resources to be shared and the right culture to flourish. And people have to know how to use it. Choosing the right technology, customising it to your organisation’s needs and ensuring employees know how to use it and want to use it are key aspect to consider when thinking about the best learning platform to use.
As this piece on content curation strategy demonstrates, there is more to curated learning than is immediately apparent. That’s why it’s essential that L&D takes a strategic approach to content curation, just as it should with any other type of learning intervention. Know your audience, filter content so you only share the best stuff, and then add some commentary so that people know what’s in it for them. Then, ask for feedback. Look at how people use the content and if they comment on it and come looking for more. Find out if it’s working for them. Then refine your content curation strategy and keep refining it.
Choose a learning platform that supports new ways of working. The 5App Hub can help to support your content curation strategy, create a learning culture and align learning with the business needs and objectives.