Content curation really took off in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic as learning teams went all out to gather and share the resources and tools that employees needed. And on the whole, it worked.
It helped employees navigate rapidly changing work environments, stay abreast of change and make sense of the tsunami of information that was coming at them, all the time.
Now that the dust is settling, it’s time for L&D teams and business leaders to look anew at content curation. So what is a curated learning platform? How do you create one? What’s working? And how do you make a curated learning platform work for your employees and your organisation?
Curation versus aggregation
Firstly, let’s make the distinction between curated content and aggregated content; although different, the two concepts are often conflated. We’ll start with aggregation. There are a lot of vendors out there talking about automated curated experiences. The reality is that most of them are using artificial intelligence to aggregate topic and keyword driven content and resources. Think of Google, Safari, YouTube, Bing... Search engines are AI aggregated content at a basic level, and who doesn’t love search engines? They are very useful and they are ubiquitous, but they are not curation.
So, what is curation? It helps to go back to the word’s roots. Curation is from cura, the Latin word meaning ‘to care’. This leads us to curate and curator. The archetypal image of a curator is a museum curator, someone who gathers information, artefacts, images, videos, etc around a certain topic and turns them into an exhibition for people to see, experience, learn from and enjoy. Ideally, those resources are the most interesting, informative, relevant and up-to-date ones available.
That’s what you want from a curated learning platform – the most interesting, informative, relevant and up-to-date content and resources for people to see, experience, share, learn from and enjoy, all pulled together in one place where it can be easily accessed. It’s not about creating new content but selecting existing content and resources that are of interest to your audience. You want to encourage continuous learning , knowledge sharing and communication through this shared resource.
We are all curators, to a certain degree – Twitter lists, photo albums, playlists, Instagram accounts, etc. That’s us collecting and sharing information that we think other people might be interested in.
Playlists are a classic example of curation and not just in the musical sense. Playlists have become increasingly popular in the learning space . Many 5App customers have embraced the playlist approach, using the Hub’s playlists to great effect. We call it having a ‘powerful playlist’ – organising resources through playlists to guide people to what is most useful and relevant to them.
A new learning culture
When Greystar, global leader in real estate management and development, came on board with us, we realised it needed a new learning culture, one that empowered and encouraged people to learn. Playlists were a key part of this. A year later, engagement, performance, productivity and retention levels had shot up, with 89% of the workforce accessing the learning platform. Another customer, oil and gas challenger brand Spirit Energy, has also embraced playlists as part of its new learning culture.
For curated learning to land – and this is another important differentiation between curation and aggregation - sense-making has to be a core part of the process. Sense-making is absolutely key to curation and (at the moment) this involves humans. It requires L&D, or managers or leaders or whoever else is curating the content, sifting through content to ensure it’s relevant and of interest to the intended audience. And then signposting people to the content and explaining why it’s worth their while. There is a lot of noise out there, as we all know, which is why it is useful to think of curated learning as ‘turning noise into signal’.
So what is a curated learning platform?
Having read this far, you hopefully already have a pretty good idea of what a curated learning platform is, but in case not, here’s a very brief explanation. It’s a platform that facilitates curated learning in an organisation. That’s it, in a nutshell. And it’s something we happen to be very good at, here at 5App.
How to create an effective curated learning platform
Creating an effective curated learning platform requires you to ensure certain important elements are in place.
- Know your audience and understand their needs
This may look like stating the blindingly obvious (and it is, but you would be surprised how often the blindingly obvious is overlooked) but you have to know your audience. You have to know their pain points. What are their information needs? What challenges are they facing now? What challenges are they likely to face tomorrow? What changes are happening in their marketplace that they need to know about? Sometimes it helps to segment your audience so that the resources you create are really personalised and targeted.
Talk to your audience. Find out what content and resources work for them. What have they found useful in the past? Why? What would they like to see more of? The purpose of workplace learning is to help people do their jobs better. If you know what it is that employees need in order to work more effectively - more collaborative working tools, more knowledge sharing, better IT resources, leadership training, for example – you are more likely to curate the right resources. Whatever it is, you need to know what the needs are and how to answer them.
- Understand how to share resources and when to share them
This ties in to knowing your audience – you need to understand how to share resources so that the learning lands. Clear communication is essential here. If employees are to engage with the resources you curate, they need to know why the resources are useful to them and where to find them. Accessibility and ease of use are really important.
Curation helps with reducing information load, but make sure you keep your curated learning succinct and on target. And signpost to it at times that will generate the most engagement. You should have data on when and how employees like to access content. If not, it’s time to get that data.
- Analyse your data
Data is your friend. Or it should be. Use it to understand where learning is having impact, which resources are popular and which aren’t performing so well. The 5App Hub collects all these kinds of valuable insights and we share them freely with customers in order to improve engagement with learning.
- Start small, then scale up
Try out new things, talk to employees about the kind of learning they would like and then implement the ideas that you think would work. Evaluate how initiatives are doing, tweak them where necessary and then scale up if they are having the desired effect.
- The right technology – the key to effective curated learning
So much hinges on the technology that you use and the working relationship with your provider. At 5App, we take a partnership approach. Hemsley Fraser, for example, a company that delivers and manages learning experiences, has been our business partner for several years now and our relationship keeps evolving. In that time, Hemsley Fraser has transformed the way its workforce works, communicates, collaborates and learns and the Hub is central to that.
Now that curation has been accepted by the L&D and wider business community, it’s time to take it to the next level and really embed it in organisations. And, as with everything, curated learning will keep evolving, so watch this space!
Choose a learning platform that supports new ways of working. The 5App Hub can help to support your L&D strategy, create a learning culture and align learning with the business needs and objectives.