Similar to the curator of a gallery who selects relevant artwork for visitors to see, a content curator selects meaningful resources to engage and educate a specific audience. Due to the abundance of online information on so many varied topics, learning professionals now have the opportunity to curate learning experiences from content that already exists.
Through content curation, you can select from the wealth of information online, organize it and find ways to make it more valuable. As a curator and course creator, you provide structure to this open-ended stream of information in order to satisfy the learning needs of a target population.
Audience members may be able to contribute to the learning experience too, which helps to create camaraderie and a community of learning.
How often do employees in your organization require training in an area that is well-researched and presented in various online media? In many cases, the morass of online resources and formats require a learning professional, along with a subject matter expert (if needed), to find and select the most relevant content in these areas to make it meaningful. I think that this will increasingly become an important role of the learning professional.
Below are just a few examples of content that flourishes online and could be organized into a structured course or an informal collection for exploration.
- Business Etiquette
- Digital literacy
- Diversity in the Workplace
- Project Management
- Software Applications
Pros and Cons of Curating Content for Learning
There are definite benefits to building eLearning from curated content. These include:
- Cost savings: no need for a large team
- Time savings: takes less time to develop
- Naturally blended approach: many topics are covered in diverse formats, such as slides, videos, podcasts, articles and visuals
- Content may include varied perspectives: repurposing content created by different experts naturally provides different viewpoints and strategies
- More refined than search results: search results are often fraught with poor findings, whereas curation is knowledge filtered by a human
- Changing information: allows employees to update knowledge and skills
- Builds community: content curation can be a shared task, which can increase engagement and build community
Naturally, there are disadvantages too:
- Not customized: content will not be fully customized for the organization
- Lack of alignment: content may not be aligned with organizational practices
- Lack of ownership: organization does not “own” the content, though ownership is now being replaced with knowledge sharing
- May not meet regulatory standards: curated content may not be appropriate for compliance training unless it meets regulations
A Process for Creating Curated Courses
Here is one approach to building a course from curated content, ideally with the help of a subject matter expert. Use a web page, content management system or curation tool to organize the content links and their annotations.
- Determine Learning Objectives. Write learning objectives and organize them in an appropriate sequence as you would for any course.
- Identify Sources. Identify sources of trustworthy and relevant content that will fulfill the learning objectives. Go beyond search engines by seeking resources through social media. For example, search Twitter using hashtags and scan social bookmarking sites. Look for presentations on SlideShare and follow the speakers to their blogs. Search for published papers and journal articles that are freely available (often on author websites).
- Select Content. Select content in varied formats that will fulfill the learning objectives.
- Filter. Filter out unessential content. Place related but not essential content in a resources collection. Remove questionable content that does not come from a credible source.
- Organize. Align the content with the learning objectives and sequence it appropriately.
- Fill Gaps. Find ways to fill content gaps. For example, conduct written or audio interviews with experts. Invite an expert to do a virtual lecture.
- Annotate. Introduce the content. Note why it was selected. Provide reflective questions as appropriate. Credit all the sources. Tag the content for various uses in the future.
- Follow-up. Provide opportunities for follow-up and performance support. Consider on-the-job coaching, online discussions or job aids as strategies for continued support.
- Evaluate and Revise. Note how people are engaging with the content. Use evaluation tools (on-the-job observation, focus groups, interviews) to assess the course. Revise as needed.
- Monitor. Monitor the content on a regular schedule. Check that links are still working and attend to content that needs updating.
Listen to an interview with curation expert, Robin Good. Or you can download the transcript.
Examples of Curated Courses
- Mobile Learning 101 (this example does not have the variety of multimedia formats you may want)
- Learn Camp 2015 (scroll down to see how this digital literacy course was set up)
- Good, R. Real-Time News Curation, Newsmastering And Newsradars – The Complete Guide
- Rheingold, H. NetSmart: How to Thrive Online. MIT Press, 2014.
Do you know of online examples of courses built from curated content? Please share these below in the Comments section.