More on content curation for learning

Considering the current interest in content curation, as mentioned in posts including the GOSH event report, it was great to see a Learning Solutions article attempt to clarify what this means for instructional design.

I personally have a real interest in curation as my background (in terms of my MA and MSc at least) straddles the value of information (re)sources and learning design.  Indeed if you look at it from a HE perspective, content curation is not really new, it is about the valuable resources which support and enhance any learning from colleagues and/or experts.  The article points out that designers already do sift through source materials in other contexts too.

Therefore, why is ‘curation’ now becoming such a big issue in workplace learning and development?  I would suggest it comes from a number of factors, including:

  1. L&D departments realizing they can not ‘do it all’ – this is a response to the information revolution and a delayed response to the ‘1990 challenge’ outlined at that GOSH event.
  2. A late realization of the capabilities of Learning Management Systems to deliver resources and support communication/collaboration, not just SCORM-packages.  This change being partly fueled by the move of LMS systems for ‘training’ beginning to use/include the features previously more common in ‘education’.  Most noticeably, Moodle has spread into the in-house training sector (either vanilla or as Totara – partly helped by the cloud) as well as a realization of the possibilities via the functionality of SharePoint and other tools.  The Learning Solution article correctly identifies this as moving away from the ‘single-learning-event’ training model.
  3. Democratization of digital production.  Unfortunately, training providers got hung up on the ‘rapid’ development of SCORM packages a few years back rather than looking at the wider ecosystem.  This has in many cases, I would argue, led to a loss of control over related issues such as tacit knowledge management and social learning as well as some misconceptions.  Unfortunately, the Learning Solutions article echoes one of these misconceptions by arguing that ‘lower production values’ means low quality of learning.  It clearly does not, and if your learners argue they can not learn from something because it does not look nice then you are failing to sell them the learning’s purpose.

Bar my criticism in the above point 3, I would say the article highlights a useful way forward for many training providers in 2014 – the key message being to learn to consider a joined-up curriculum rather than silos of those ‘single-learning-events’.  What else could be done?  Below are some tactics which I have not seen much comment about:

  1. Leverage the sources of content curation directly from the SMEs – browser bookmarks, links currently hidden away on team sites, books in their offices, etc.
  2. Leverage the sources of current awareness – aggregate lists of recommended reading (email subscriptions, RSS reader exports) from SMEs and the training’s audience.

And if we consider what is happening in HE and elsewhere I might suggest three other bits of work for L&D in 2014:

  1. L&D professionals as the organizational ‘guinea pigs’ – spend time test driving MOOCs and other resources prior to recommending to their audiences.
  2. Audio/visual solutions – iTunesU type in-house solutions, Mediacore, etc.  I know a lot of organizations will have this already but I doubt many fully allow for upload/download flexibility across device and with appropriate curation tools (commenting, ratings, categories, etc).
  3. Data and semantics – many of the opportunities of ‘curation’ emerged from Web 2 (wikis, social media, etc).  This video does a good job of summarizing that data, analytics, semantics, etc will bring the next set of opportunities.

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