In these times of information overload, there's an appetite to keep up with the latest knowledge and resources, know what to curate, what models to follow and how to promote content. This is crucial in the world of learning and development and content curation remains at the centre of discussions within the L&D community.
Why content curation matters
With some degree of irony, there's an over-abundance of information about content curation to sift through online - thankfully, we’ve been working to separate the wheat from the chaff. Kineo believes that as learners, we’ve got a lot of questions and we want to stay smart. People are time poor but they want answers to their questions. So here are the answers to yours.
Let’s explore how we can tackle the content curation challenge, successfully tap into the vast amount of readily available content and filter it into our learning strategies.
How to tackle the content challenge
As Anders Pink's CEO Stephen Walsh highlighted in a webinar we recently hosted together, rapid change in all industries means that our skills have a shelf life and constant upskilling is essential. This is particularly evident in learning and development – if you wrote a course about artificial intelligence, it would be out of date by the time you’d finished it because of the speed of change in that sector.
A smart way to keep your skills fresh is 'micro-learning' ie. doing a little learning regularly and building strong habits around continuous learning. This learning is made more effective by collectively sharing knowledge as a team effort but the challenge is to achieve this while being faced with too much content and not enough time. We need to be tapping into the most relevant, up-to-date content which is why continuous learning and content curation are such tightly related concepts.
Which leads us to the business case. Effective content curation means saving time, reducing costs and helping organisations stay agile. Although all organisations would no doubt argue that they support continuous learning for staff, only 14% have a content curation strategy in place to help learners in a formal or structured way. This provides a huge opportunity for the learning and development industry to deliver curation properly, serve its audiences better and help clients find the most relevant content.
Filtering what’s available
As a starting point, there's always the option to curate content manually, which involves checking preferred websites and social media feeds, setting your Google Alerts for chosen topics and monitoring RSS feeds. You then manually select the best links you've found to put into your learning platform. The problem is that few of us have the time to repeat this process for every topic every day, especially when dealing with multiple clients and audiences - to do this daily would leave you with little time to do anything else.
To bring the essentials of effective content curation into focus try Harold Jarche's 'Seek, Sense, Share’ framework, which you can read about in more detail here. This is a useful starting point in the content curation journey and in the framework:
- seeking involves finding content or people that can help the individual develop knowledge or skills
- sensing means making sense of the information and putting into practice what's been learned
- sharing is about exchanging resources, ideas, and experiences with networks and collaborating with colleagues.
This model has provided the basis for our framework for content curation which involves five key steps: Search, Aggregate, Filter, Add value, and Promote.
Content curation in practice
A good example of the efficiency of Kineo's 'Search > Aggregate > Filter > Add Value > Promote' framework can be seen with the content curation service we provided for a global accountancy and business advisory firm. In this case:
- searching involved curating web content that mapped against organisation-wide competencies
- aggregating meant finding content from a variety of different sources which were mapped against 6 core competencies
- filtering meant categorising the resources for each competency into different levels of experience from admin to senior leadership and removing outdated or duplicated content
- adding value meant providing descriptions/context, resource type, estimate of time required, and adding other metadata
- promotion involved the curated material being made available on the LMS and its existence being communicated to the 3,500 learners it was aimed at.
Surprisingly, this seemingly complex task didn't require sophisticated technology to achieve its goal. We used a simple spreadsheet that captured all the aggregated content and our professional expertise then came into play when thinking through all the necessary filtering and adding the value that would make the content resonate with learners.
Through this process, 100 valuable learning resources were identified as useful resources, providing engaging content on topics such as dealing with change, continuous improvement and resilience in the workplace.
'Adding value' is vital to the content curation process but how can this be achieved in a meaningful way? Here are a few ways you can consider adding value:
- Empathy for the learner and putting yourself in their shoes - what's going to be useful?
- Clear criteria – agree how content will be mapped.
- Identify the most relevant and important content.
- Seeking permission - no-one likes to get sued!
- Apply context and meaning – make it relevant to the learner's job.
- Share with the right people, at the right time, in the best network for your users – pick your channels and your moment.
- Review, maintain and refresh content as appropriate.
How tools can help you
With manual content curation being so time-consuming, Artificial Intelligence and technology can be your friend – working in tandem with the human element and personal discernment to identify the best content to share.
This is where Anders Pink's free content curation tool comes in, providing automated filtering based on your rules: keywords, domains, Twitter influencers, RSS – hand-picked by you from automated streams or anywhere on the web.
When you start using the tool, the first step in filtering and aggregating content is to 'Create Briefing' (borrowing from the old newspaper terminology) which means creating a collection of articles on whatever you're interested in. Straight away, you can type in a topic, hit publish and a briefing will be created, displaying a list of relevant articles in a user-friendly list. The fact that the tool defaults to the most recent articles is fundamental to its effectiveness - if you're trying to curate content for a professional audience, an old Wikipedia page on a given topic won't cut the mustard! The tool also uses 'social traction', ensuring that it is also the most-read articles that appear in your briefing.
The tool is, however, much more sophisticated and you can start defining the most important parameters to determine your briefing so you're not just bringing in more content, you're bringing in the right content. These filters include:
- Keywords: words to include and exclude in the search pattern, eg. you may want to include 'trends' or 'tips' while excluding 'jobs'.
- Add Influencers: to help the search pattern you can include your favourite Twitter influencers to make sure that you see their content in your results and the tool also suggests useful influencers to add.
- Add Domains: again you can be specific, adding the most authoritative or thought-provoking websites that need to be included in your search.
- Add RSS feeds: an ability to include your favourite RSS feeds to enhance your results.
- Add Blocked Domains: a function that enables you to block websites that you don't want included in your search results.
- Furthermore, the tool allows you to ask for all results or just those relevant to key words when specifying parameters for influencers, domains and RSS feeds.
Having streamlined your content curation, you can also hand-pick the most relevant articles to a saved board and promote specific articles with your team or with your network/customers on social media, showing that you're curating for them and adding value to their knowledge.
Once you have your curated content, you can embed it directly into your LMS via the Anders Pink plugin. This enables you to present this content alongside your formal courses and incorporate it within the design, look and feel of the LMS. This way, learners won't go off to another platform and you'll be putting recent relevant content right in their line of sight.
Aside from learning platforms, the kind of content curation enabled by the tool has further uses when it comes to areas such as tips on new products and technology, competitor-tracking for sales teams and researching your customers.
The fact that a cursory Google search of 'content curation' brings up over 2.5 million results highlights the problem of seeing past the digital blizzard to get a core understanding of how to curate content effectively in learning and development. This is clearly being made much easier thanks to curation tools. But the key to using these tools successfully is surely 'adding value' to the curation process - bringing your expertise as an L&D professional to the table.