Many in the learning space have recently come to the realization that learning functions don’t need to try and command and control all learning content within their organization nor do they have the resources to create it all. Rather, they can become the curators of learning. Sounds intriguing, but, what does it mean when we say curation? What does good curated learning look like? How do we measure impact to the business? Many learning functions are in the midst of trying to figure out those answers. Many have begun to take action. Unfortunately, I see many organizations not learning from past mistakes. I have met many learning leaders who have begun with technology. I would have hoped the lack of value from investments in LMS platforms, portals, social collaboration tools and many others, would have made more realize that starting with technology is typically a recipe for failure. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great technologies that elegantly present curated learning but those are only as good as the work of the curators.
This raises the other question I hear being asked regularly, ‘who should be doing the curation work?’ There are design and development departments, numerous vendors that can build custom content, but can those sources curate? Not necessarily. Much of what has been curated has been assembly of disparate parts of learning. We seem to be in love with micro-learning as well. The smaller the better. Does that mean someone is going to learn and apply that micro-learning? Not necessarily. There is a role for instructional design in curation. In fact, in some ways it becomes more important than when designing from a completely blank canvas. Instructional designers need to think and act differently when curating and think about the glue and thread that holds the pieces together. Designers need to answer questions for the learner: what is in this playlist for me? Why am I watching a YouTube video now? What comes next? What do I do with the micro-learning I just completed? The art of curation lies in the hands of the curator. In most organizations, they are looking to instructional designers or facilitators to be curators. I could write an entire piece on the role of subject matter resources, but we will cover that another time.
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So, agree or disagree with my point of view, now what? Most organizations need to begin with the end in mind. If you want to embrace the curation trend, you need a curation strategy. Is that stating the obvious? I would think so, yet, I see many organizations who have a tool and have asked people to dabble in curation with no clear, set strategy. Your curation strategy needs to address five key focus areas: people, process, content, technology and measurement. This strategy needs to be blanketed in the proper sponsorship from key stakeholders and a communications and change management plan. People addresses the target audience, and staff to curate. Process is a multi-faceted area including role of design, subject matter, publishing, proactive maintenance, etc. Content is focused on sources from which to curate, review/compliance, delivery types. Technology is both curation platform selection, implementation and management as well as I/T security considerations. Measurement is the center of the bullseye. What ROI can we expect? What impact to business strategy can we anticipate? How will we measure success?
These opinions are based on my observations over the past year and engaging with clients who are headed down this curation road. You may agree or disagree but the debate needs to continue. If you want to engage in a further discussion about how to go about setting a curation strategy, feel free to reach out and we can keep the conversation going.
Tom Kupetis is a Managing Director with St. Charles Consulting and a key leader in their learning curation practice. Tom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-338-0825