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Digital Content Curation for Workplace Learning & Development

by | Nov 9, 2017

With Curation being one of the top buzzwords in workplace L&D currently, it can be easy to forget that it’s actually been around and in use for a number of years already.

Here at HT2 Labs, we’ve been talking about the power of curation for quite some time – I’ve even co-authored a book on the subject (Ready, Set, Curate – ATD Press).  And let’s not forget that we launched the first edition of our curation-based learning platform, Curatr, way back in 2012, too.

An early version of Curatr

An early version of HT2 Labs’ course curation platform, Curatr.

Curatr has come a long way in the years since, but the principles of successful workplace content curation remain the same. We’ll take a look at those principles shortly, but first, let’s recap on just what curation means in the context of L&D…

Curation in the Context of L&D

Derived from the Latin cura, meaning guardian or overseer, the word curation has expanded beyond activities like tending, collecting, and managing of physical objects into the digital world.

It used to be that access to information was controlled. Curators came in the form of librarians, or some subject matter expert that oversaw access to knowledge. Of course the Internet has changed all that, democratising access to content for anyone lucky enough to be online.

The breadth of content available, and the speed with which it can be accessed, is breathtaking. But breadth and speed does not always mean accuracy and depth.

We live in a world that abounds with content, but also uncertainty. The need for us all to step up and become the guardians of knowledge has never been more apparent. Today, anyone in your organisation could be seen as a curator.

In Today’s World, Curation is a Way of Life

Curation is not a one-off process, but a way of life in our world of content. We are constantly in need of evaluating what is put in front of us, synthesising what is true and accurate, and sharing our understanding with others.

When you exist in a world of abundance, the problem stops being access to knowledge and starts being the sheer overwhelming nature of the beast. We have too many options.

You can start strategising how to use digital curation in the workplace with a model that we call the Four I’s: Inspiration, Instruction, Integration, and Implementation.

The Four I’s of Workplace Content Curation

1. Inspiration

Use curation at the business-level to collect, transform, and share resources centrally, curating information as a trigger or hook to inspire action or deeper involvement within the workforce.

Curation idea: Create a weekly newsletter that aggregates content from the web into a handy digest email for your workforce to read and share.

2. Instruction

Use curation, collecting and remixing existing content, to form the basis of developing new courses. Blending resources from the outside world with a selection of resources from within the firewall can decrease the time to delivery and cut costs dramatically for the L&D department.

Curation idea: Create a pathway that steps learners through a mixture of repurposed internal content with videos from TED, YouTube, or another content provider.

3. Integration

Enable your workforce to become curators during the learning process; ask them to demonstrate how they are going to apply these insights on the job.

Curation idea: Task your learners with curating your aggregated list of resources (from the ‘instruction’ level) and reinterpreting them to tell a story of their own.

4. Implementation

As collaborative tools become the new normal for software in companies, we see individuals using curation techniques in the process of their daily work.

Many of us already do this through blogs, tweets, and other collections of knowledge that we share with the world. You can’t constantly force people to share, but you can set the policy and tone for people to share for themselves.

Curation idea: Open up the intranet or internal comms tool to allow publishing, or introduce a tool of curation that you ‘whitelist’ as an allowed program within the company.

Curation in Action: InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)

IHG’s talent development function uncovered a need to train its whole company leadership base in the art of holding a brilliant conversation at performance review time.

Time was tight; with just 4 weeks to go before performance reviews started, IHG turned to curation to help sequence existing content into a social learning experience that would be taken by more than 3,000 leaders ahead of review season.

Leaders viewed content and contributed back to IHGs learning platform (Curatr) to earn points and complete content over the course of 5 weeks. They voted on each other’s contributions to allow the best ideas to rise to the top.

The results were stunning:

  • More than 30,000 responses – scoring 100,000 ‘experience points’ (XPs) – were generated in response to the curated material from IHG
  • More than 1,500 videos were added back to the platform, with colleagues in 42 countries contributing

Later analysis would go on to show that within 3 weeks of the experience starting, 40% of leaders had explained how they could integrate the new learning into their behavior and more than 10% of leaders had already tried a new performance review technique in the workplace.

IHG Social Learning Course Stats for IHGs Global Leadership Development Programme

Gain A Competitive Edge: Adopt a Curation-First Strategy

Adopting a curation-first strategy for your talent organization – that is, curating existing content before you ever create new content – can begin to create a significant competitive edge.

When you juxtapose the proliferation of content with how adults learn (that is, as part of a process, not from a perfect piece of content), it becomes apparent that creating vast amounts of content for a workforce to remember is not a strategy worth pursuing.

It is in the application and context of how people use the information that organisations benefit – not in the words themselves – and once we make this leap, the concept of constantly trying to make new content from which we can learn becomes redundant.

If you are struggling to keep up with the pace of change and the demand for new content, the answer is not to do things quicker. It is to do things differently.

Perhaps that difference can be curation.

You can find out more about our thinking on curation in this recent podcast with Connie Malamed (and book co-author Allison Anderson), and this podcast in conversation with Owen Ferguson, where we discuss whether Curation is the new king of L&D.

Alternatively, if you’re ready to get started with Curation in your business, we’d love to help you make it a reality – arrange a demo of our Curatr platform today.

About the Author

Dr Ben Betts

Dr Ben Betts

Ben leads the passionate team at HT2 Labs and is a globally-recognised thought-leader in Learning Technology with more than 15 years industry experience. His doctorate research broke new ground studying the impact of gamification on adult social learning. He has authored and contributed chapters for four books in the last two years, published peer-reviewed academic papers and presented at TEDx. His research today focusses on creating credible metrics for learning activities that are traditionally difficult to measure, like social interaction and sentiment analysis. When he's not in the office he can be found watching, and occasionally participating in, all forms of sport.

Read all posts by Ben

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