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 🙂

10 steps to create a digital story for learning

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A digital story for learning needs to be more than just entertainment. It needs to have a learning purpose and link to learning outcomes. Here are 10 steps to use when planning a digital story to ensure it keeps it’s learning purpose:

1. Decide why you’re using a digital story

Are you using a story to emphasise why this topic is relevant for your audience? Are you using the story as a motivator to pull them into the other activities in the course? Do you want your audience to learn from other people’s experience, through their mistakes or success stories?

2.  Match the story solution to learning objectives

Does your story cover some or all of your learning objectives? Choosing the learning objectives the story relate to will help keep the direction and purpose of your story.

3. Plan the key messages or themes

What are the one or two things you want your audience to remember from the story? Is there a moral in your story?

4. Decide how learners will interact with the content

Will they be able to influence the outcome and path of the story (branching scenarios)? Will they apply the key messages from the story to a practice activity or job task? Will they be asked questions to reflect on the content?

5. Make a template for gathering content from your Subject Matter Expert (SME)

What characters will your story have e.g. customer, staff members? What environments does the story take place in? Use the 5W and H questions (who, what, where, when, why, how) at the different points in time to construct a template to gather content.

5. Write the script

Consider the tone and type of language used.  If writing a script seems overwhelming, you can break the story into separate scenes and write a script for each scene.

6. Decide what graphic style you’ll use

Will you use photos or illustrations? Design a consistent theme for your story. Consider how much time you have available to develop graphics and then choose a style that’s achievable in the timeframe.

7. Prototype a scene of the animations and graphics that will be used

It is much easier to show your SMEs what the story will look like rather than explaining how it will look. Share a scene prototype with your SMEs to get agreement before developing the rest of the story.

8. Develop the story in the tools

Once you’ve got agreement from your SMEs on the script and graphic style continue and develop the rest of the story scene by scene.

9. Review the story

Check with your SMEs that the content is accurate and the intended key messages of the story come across.

10. Include what’s next…

Usually a digital story is just part of a learning solution. Tell your learners what’s coming next. Are they going to apply principles from the story to another practice activity or job task? What else will they do that’s relevant to the story?

Following these 10 steps will help keep your digital story focused and adding value to your topic. What else do you find useful for planning a digital story?

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy these related posts:

Using digital stories in elearning

Why storytelling should be part of your elearning toolkit

Using digital stories in elearning

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Digital stories are a quick meaningful way to get a message across. They are stories told using technology that include a combination of images and audio to tell a tale.

Digital stories have advantages in that you can get a consistent message across to many people, the story can be viewed at anytime and at any location. You can also get very creative with your story and key messages by using images and audio to engage your audience and draw them into your story.

Digital stories are a great way to get difficult concepts across, they are excellent for showing how different parts of an organisation or job task work together. They are also a great way to learn from other’s experiences without having to make the same mistakes.

So what does a good digital story look like?

Well first of all you can access the story on your computer but after that it can look like anything. Digital stories could have images and photos or they can contain movement, animations and videos or any combination of these. Good digital stories are focussed on a purpose and getting a message across.  They also use the same style through the whole story.

You can build a digital story on a variety of different platforms depending on how sophisticated you want to get. For example you could use Powerpoint, Slideshare, rapid elearning tools, or specialised animation tools such as FlipbooksVideoscribe and Goanimate.

Before writing a digital story I often search the web to find inspiring examples. When I view good digital stories I ask myself, ‘what they are doing that makes the story successful’ and then ‘how can I incorporate these elements into elearning that I’m developing?’.

Here are a few digital stories that I’ve found inspiring, you can click on the links to view them. Please feel free to share in the comments below any other digital stories you have found inspiring.

Where good ideas come from

good ideas

Credit crisis

credit crisis

Han Rosling’s 20o countries, 200 years 4 minutes – the Joy of Stats

stats story

Why storytelling should be part of your elearning toolkit

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Do you want to engage your audience and help them to emotionally connect with content? Do you want to find a way to get a difficult concept across? Here are some reasons why storytelling needs to be part of your elearning toolkit:

Research tells us storytelling is a powerful way to teach

As well as providing entertainment, stories are often used to teach deeper lessons. Parents have used stories for thousands of years to teach children life skills, beliefs and values. Stories have been used over history to teach religious belief. Advertisers use stories to sell their products. Storytelling as a technique for teaching is not new, it has been used throughout history to embed learning and change behaviour.

Research consistently tells us that stories are much more effective for learning and changing behaviour than giving facts or telling people what to do. This article from the Elearning Guild cites research evidence that found storytelling to be a more effective way of learning.

Stories are everywhere

We are used to stories – they surround us everyday. Whether they are stories from friends and colleagues, reading stories to children, watching a movie, TV (even some of the adverts), listening to songs, or reading a fictional novel. Our brains are conditioned to hear stories and they are an enjoyable way to digest information.

They work well as a motivator – grabbing attention!

A well designed story at the beginning of a training or elearning course can pull the learner in to complete the rest of the course. Stories as an attention grabber are motivating for the audience – they show why the topic is relevant to them.

They give context and meaning

By providing characters, settings and a flow of information or events stories give context and meaning to a lesson. Through a story we can learn from other people’s mistakes or challenges without having to go through the same experience ourselves. Stories can organise complicated seemly unrelated data into connected and meaningful patterns. They are excellent for conveying complicated concepts in a digestible meaningful way.

Connect with the audience at an emotional level

Well designed stories connect with the audience on an emotional level. They use characters that the audience can easily relate to, humour and have a tension point. Here is an example of an advert in New Zealand that had a well designed story to get the message across that it’s good to ‘stop your friends from drink driving’:

Legend

The “Ghost Chips” humour from this story became mainstream and gave youths a non-confrontational way to stop their mates from drink driving.

Want to read more, here are a few articles on storytelling that I’ve enjoyed:

Once upon a keyboard: Designing stories into E-learning

Why you need to use storytelling for elearning

Using stories for learning: Answers to 5 key questions