L&D need to get on the curation bandwagon. Here’s why..

I’ve been meaning to follow-up on my first post on curation for a while now, but it wasn’t until I read Nigel Paine’s article on Training Zone that I felt compelled to get this post together. The bit I really liked was Nigel’s mantra “curate first, create second” which I could not agree with more.

Embracing curation as a part of your learning strategy makes sense for many reasons. For starters as I said in the previous article it’s a “gateway drug” to becoming what Bob Mosher and Con Gottfredson call “dynamic learners” and we all need more of those.

It can also save you money. If you have a third-party content library you may be better off curating instead. If you don’t have a library of general learning resources, curation means you can create one for free.

  • Curation lets you grab the best content from the best online authors. A lot of content libraries are staid, dull and out of date.
  • With Curation you control the meta data, this means you can give each article the tags that make sense to your employees.
  • You can link articles to your company’s goals and make them relevant for your audience.

Remember good curation is about understanding what your audience needs and cares about.

Most companies spend thousands of pounds each year on basic Microsoft IT skills training. Not only does this cost a lot in cash, it usually means going on a whole day course out of the office, when what you really need is performance support. The right resource for the right person at the right time – at the moment of application.

If you search You Tube for Excel tutorials you will find a plethora of resources. Some will be better than others of course, but that’s where your skills as a learning professional come in to evaluate how effective they are likely to be for your audience. You could quite conceivably use a tool like Pinterest, Scoop.it or Learnfizz to create a collection of tagged resources covering all the main functions of MS Office and it wouldn’t cost you a penny. Yes it will take you time to collect and review and yes you may not have access to YouTube at work, but perhaps this is the clear business case you need to change all that?

I thought twice about calling curation a bandwagon in the title of this post as it’s clearly a pejorative term. However, the rapidly expanding number of tools in this sector means it is a bubble that surely cannot be sustained. This doesn’t mean it’s going to disappear, but it does mean that you need to choose your platform carefully if you want to be sure of using the same one this time next year. And while most options are free to use, it’s worth considering a paid option, as it generally brings security and peace of mind. Developers who get paid tend to provide a better service.

You might not want to limit yourself to just one tool. They all have slightly different strengths, Scoop.it is a great all-rounder with fantastic search engines, Pinterest is visually appealing, Pearl Trees is great for exploring related topics and making serendipitous discoveries and Learnfizz focuses on learning.

If you are going to use a variety of tools you want to be able to pull them together into some sort of portal, perhaps on your intranet or blog, to make it easy for your audience to access. So part of your selection should involve asking ” how can I extract the content?”. Scoop.it has RSS feeds for each of your topics so people can get them straight to their inbox or feed reader. It even gives you the code to export an iframe with a dynamic slider showing your latest topics. Wouldn’t that look good on your intranet?

Once you’ve chosen a tool and topic, you need to figure out how you are going to cultivate the skills and habits of a good curator. It’s really important to figure out how you can integrate curating into your daily routine. If you don’t do this you won’t find the content you need. Curation requires passion and discipline. Here are some tips:

  • Identify the times in your average day that you could spend curating. Perhaps during your commute if you take the bus or train, or maybe during your lunch break.
  • Aim for about 30 minutes a day and put in your calendar.
  • Eat the elephant one bite at a time – you don’t need to create a comprehensive library in the first week.
  • Get your team involved – many hands make light work (just make sure they are as clued up as you)
  • If you get several people involved you can focus on quality – even three or four articles a week each will build into a quality resource quite quickly.

Don’t just focus on the quality of the content, focus on the quality of your own curation. Remember you add value when you add context. Two or three well positioned articles that clearly link to issues your organisation is facing, will resonate more strongly with your audience than hundreds of generic articles. You also add value when you make the user experience simpler so always take time to add metadata to organise the collection.

That’s the difference between aggregation and curation.

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7 thoughts on “L&D need to get on the curation bandwagon. Here’s why..

  1. mikecollins007 says:

    Thanks for sharing this Sam and as the person who introduced me to Scoop.it and to the art of curation, I have to once again say thank-you. Curation is something I’ve really enjoyed doing and after selecting two topics I was interested in and thought would add value to others I set off searching and Scooping. It does take time and effort and you’re right it’s quality over quantity every time and the skill (and enjoyment) is finding content that is relevant, interesting and hasn’t been tweeted 100 times already. The search engine on Scoop.it is very good and I’m still only scratching the surface I’m sure.

    I’ve seen and been part of a couple of interesting discussions on curation and if the skills can / should be transferable and ultimately everyone should be able to curate or that curating is very similar to and will follow the same principle as the 90/9/1 rule? What do you think?

    • Burrough says:

      Realistically you’re probably right, it will be a small minority of people who take the time to curate. I’ve no idea what the ratio will be and really it’s too early to say especially with all of the hype. But a curated web is a much more useful and user-friendly web, so the odds are most people will just be consumers. Does that mean curation is negative because these people won’t be motivated to seek out the content themselves? I don’t think so, I think that these people would probably never have bothered in the first place. The sheer volume of content makes the signal to noise ratio pretty unpleasant, curation tips the balance back the other way and it’s a more realistic way to get the masses (for want of a better term) to be more digitally literate.

  2. Ben Duffy says:

    Curation can be an easy win with clients who express a need that can be filled with some of the content out there on YouTube and other places. I’ve curated a few resource pages for platform launches (Google Apps, and Microsoft Office ’07) and spent some additional time creating a change message vignette with Camtasia to help people understand, the why and when of change.

  3. Dave Havis says:

    Two things:
    1) Learnfizz looks very promising. Good old Happy Henry. I’ve looked at Curatr before, from the note on their site it looks like they’re upgrading right now with something to be released tomorrow in fact. I’m awaiting that with interest.

    2) This is actually a great way to add value for the “extended enterprise” per the webinar we attended. http://www.certpointsystems.com/resources/presentations/526-certpoint-webinar-getting-learning-infrastructure-right-for-the-extended-enterprise.html . One of the key perceived barriers was information risk which is overcome if what you’re doing is curating other people’s content – the platforms to do this are out there right now, outside the business!

    • Burrough says:

      Thanks Dave – I agree on both points. I haven’t spent as much time on LearnFizz as I’d like to be honest – sucked in by Scoop.it. I will try and fix that over the next few weeks.
      Totally agree with the extended enterprise point, it’s a case of the thin or blurry line between marketing, comms, and training. The three are so fundamentally interconnected it’s a surprise we don’t all work together more often. In many ways we belong there more than HR perhaps?

  4. […] Why not start a Scoop.it Magazine, there is a fantastic article here on curation by @burrough on why L&D need to get on the curation bandwagon . The point is be creative, be brave and invite your colleagues to groups or circles or harass them […]

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