The art and skill of content curation

Content curation is a smart way of using already existing resources, such as, images, animations, videos, websites, blogs, apps and artifacts, and blending them together in a new and creative way for a specific purpose.

Skill level in content curation will make the difference between completely missing your audience with parts that don’t make sense together or have no purpose, to creating a cohesive story that powerfully connects and makes your audience think beyond the resources that have been curated.

This curated video that gives an overview of the skill involved:

Here Welenia 2013 give a visual overview of  different processes to organise and sort the best and most relevant content:

Let’s look at the skills of content curation in a bit more detail:

Knowing where to find stuff

When curating on a topic it is important to know where you can find quality content fast.

Externally curating

You can curate content externally from the world wide web. Here are some excellent websites that have quality content that can be used for learning resources:

Ted Ed lessons worth sharing – this site consists of lessons built around curated videos both from Ted Talks and from Youtube

Ted Talks – hundreds of inspiration talks on a wide range of topics. Many talks given by thought leaders in their field of expertise.

Mindtools – online training materials for management, leadership, and personal effectiveness skills.

Depending on your purpose and topic you may  find relevant content in Youtube, blog posts, industry websites, and Twitter feeds. Finding out who the thought leaders are for your subject can be a good strategy, as their digital content may point you to relevant videos, images, infographics, websites or blogs.

Think outside of the box to illustrate a point. For example, a learning objective I recently had in body language resources was about ‘the importance of matching body language to what is being said to build trust and credibility’. A video of a child lying and a forum discussion activity surrounding this demonstrated the objective well and made it interactive. A video of the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal with a link to a web site that analysed his body language also supported this learning objective well.

Internally curating

You can also content curate from staff in your organisation by inviting them to share expertise and resources on a topic. How about having a list of staff expertise so others can find the right person to ask?

Internal curation may include processes, job aids, information on the company intranet such as policies, useful information for use within teams.

What ways could you curate content internally?

Mass content curation

Why not invite others to content curate for their learning or invite staff to share resources and content they’ve found useful on the topic you’re curating.

Everything has a purpose

Make sure everything has a purpose and your learning objectives and performance outcomes are well defined. All the curated resources and content should be linked to the learning objectives and performance outcomes.

Be brutal here, if the content doesn’t link back to your objectives and outcomes leave it out. Don’t get distracted with using a cool animation you found in Youtube that has bling and looks beautiful, but lacks in message.

Be selective, prioritise resources that support your purpose the best. If you have found a large amount of resources on your topic don’t include everything, include the best ones only.

It’s also important to know when to stop when you can’t find a resource to illustrate your point. Once I spent an hour looking for the perfect image to illustrate my point, which unfortunately didn’t seem to exist, only to find that I could create my own in 30 minutes.

Storytelling and flow

Storytelling and flow is really important for curated learning resources.

Museums are a great example of this. Check out some reputable museums in your area. Each exhibition will have a flow of curated resources to tell a story – the flow could be based on a timeline or by type of content (for us it could be grouped under learning objectives). Look at how museums tell stories and see what you could apply to digital content curation.

Here’s some examples from my local museum Te Papa (Wellington, New Zealand). An exhibition about immigration in New Zealand uses creative ways to make the history into stories. In the photos, see the time line on the floor of when different immigrants arrived in New Zealand, and the table where you can view videos of people sharing their immigration stories.

Extremely powerful and it was all from existing information. Believe me I spent a couple of hours in just this one exhibition!

For learning we too can get creative with our presentation of curated content, look for inspiration everywhere.

Make it interactive and continuous

Curated content for learning should be interactive and make people think about their situation and beyond. Design questions, social interaction, and activities to support the curated content. Why not show staff how they can practice these skills in different ways in the workplace. Go beyond event based learning and into continuous and self-directed learning.

In short, curation is a smart way of using already existing resources. To do content curation well though, still requires skill, insight, and creativity.

How have you used content curation for learning? What are your thoughts are content curation – share and let’s curate together 🙂

Going beyond elearning for change

Change Management

Often in elearning and learning design we can get focused on making sure people learn the content but can easily forget about how we can motivate our audience to do something new as a result of their learning. Learning is only the first part of the puzzle, doing something different as result of that learning is where the difference is made. Not only is it important to help people learn it’s also important that they are motivated to then implement that new learning.

What sort of things do we need to consider to make sure change occurs as a result of our learning design?

1 Opportunity

Make sure there is the opportunity to put what was learnt into practice within a reasonable timeframe. This combats the forgetting curve and improves return on investment.

One time I was sent on a Microsoft Project course by a business (without requesting it) and although I appreciated the opportunity to learn about this software they might as well just have burnt the money. After the course I repeatedly queried when I would receive the software only to find out there was no budget to actually give me the software! It was a negative return on investment.

2 Business support

Just because a request has come from the business doesn’t mean the desired change is actually supported by the business. Check if there is anything working against the learning and performance outcomes of the planned learning solution. Is there already leadership and manager buy-in, will they support the change? Are targets and measures aligned to the performance outcomes? Are there sufficient processes, tools, and structures in place?

If there are things in the business working against or conflicting with the training or learning it’s likely that the benefits will be short-lived as people return to business as usual.

3 Action plan

Ask for commitment from your learners on how they will implement their learning in the workplace. No learning is useful unless it is actually applied.

This may be as simple as asking your learners to jot down (or type into your elearning course) one thing they will start doing, one thing they will keep doing, and one thing they will stop doing and the timeframes for these. Even better if their goal setting is visible to their managers. After all, if staff are given time to complete an elearning or other learning solution wouldn’t it be better if they use what they learnt…

4 Time to practice

Learning is a journey and opportunities for trial and error are important. Check if your target audience will have time to practice their new skills or knowledge on the job. Perhaps they could even be given on-the-job tasks or assignments and their managers are involved in their learning and performance improvement (this one also links back to business support).

Elearning or any type of learning design is not a magic wand for change. For any learning solution to be truly successful must take into account what happens after the learning intervention and how progression and performance improvement continues.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, why not add a comment? How do you make change happen beyond elearning?

The game of learning design

Soccer strategy

The gamification term has become popular over the last few years. Professor Werbach from Pennsylvania University defines gamification as, “the use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts” (Gamification MOOC in Coursera 2015) . If you’re producing engaging elearning in my view it seems almost impossible not to be using at least some features of gamification.

I’m currently engaged in a gamification MOOC  in Coursera, although I’ve participated in other gamification MOOCs, this one in particular encouraged me to reflect about gamification in my learning/elearning design.

I have been using gamification features in teaching and instructional design long before the term became mainstream. The reason for this is that gamification and good quality learning share many of the same features and foundations.

Here is a taste of what gamification and good quality learning have in common:

A business goal and objectives

Both should start with a well defined business goal and then specific objectives for how to meet this business goal. Solutions are built to achieve the business goal and motivate certain behaviours of the target audience or players.

Engaging and fun

To make a difference in learning design or gamification it is critical that the experience is engaging, fun, and memorable. Game theory examines and breaks down what fun looks like and how solutions (both gamification and learning) can utilise the different features of fun to get results.

Motivation

Fun is important and makes life more enjoyable, but that’s not what it’s all about… it’s also about motivation. Both gamification and learning design address how the target audience (or players) can be motivated to continue the desired behaviour after the intervention has occurred. They both have strong foundations in motivational psychology to achieve better results for desired behaviour.

Practice, challenge and progression towards success

It’s not a single one off event but something more engaging. Having opportunities to practice and a sense of challenge and progression are valuable. How can you turn your learning design into an experience rather than an event?

 

Learning about gamification is a great way to refine learning design. So much scientific research has been done on motivation and how to engage people in games. Why not borrow these lessons learnt and apply them to learning design and/or other contexts.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about gamification and how it applies to learning design? Follow me to hear more.

Performing an elearning makeover

Before And After: Makeup

I’ve recently be given the task of refreshing an old online compliance training course. As with most elearning projects I get assigned it needs to be completed rapidly within a few weeks. Here’s how I do an elearning makeover: give the course a haircut, restyle and makeup!

Haircut

A good hairdresser assesses your face shape, and personal style before giving you a haircut. It’s the same theory for redesigning a course – first we need to assess what’s needed i.e. what are the learning objectives and do they need to change? Then we can cut out all the excess content that doesn’t directly relate to these learning objectives.

Restyle

Restyling is about finding those Instructional Design strategies that are the keepers from the old course. Then figuring out how to make them work in the spruced up course.

For example, I’ve looked at what works well in the current course and how can this be reused and adapted. The current course has a lot of question based scenarios of what would you do in a situation: a,b or c. Currently these are text heavy and look a little boring. Not to worry though nothing that a learner challenge, graphical additions, characters and conversation bubbles can’t deal with!!  The existing content is solid so no need to go back to the drawing board – phew that will save time! There are also great assessment questions that I can reuse.

Makeup 

This is where we get into the cosmetics of the course or the look and feel. Are the graphics and media still appealing, or is something new required to bring it up to date and looking good? As well as looking good, the graphics and media also need to add value to learning. That text based branching scenario could be easily turned into graphics by adding the people and environment. This will make it look more realistic and more memorable.

It’s amazing what a good haircut, restyle and makeup can do to a tired looking elearning course!

What do you do in your elearning makeovers?