Sunday, August 24, 2014

Effective Content Curation For Learning - 3 Key Steps

It happens. A list of content resources is added to the end of a course as an afterthought.

This activity should not be confused with content curation. Content curation is an important and integral element of learning design that requires judgement and expertise. I have set out below three key steps in the curation process including a much missed third step, namely adding value to the content you curate.

There has been increasing interest in content curation in recent years. I think the reasons for this are:

  • learning design approaches that emphasise the importance of informal learning and a focus on resources not courses
  • learning platforms that make it easy for you to aggregate and share curated content. Some have better tools designed explicitly for the purpose but most allow you to group and share content easily as part of your learning resources
  • content creation is expensive and hence, curating content can be a cost-effective way of creating blended learning courses
The danger is that content curation is seen as something quick and easy, when actually to be an effective content curator takes time if the curation is to add value to learning.

There are three distinct phases to effective content curation in my view. These are discovering content, selecting content that is of value to your learners, and finally to adding value to the content.

1. Discover relevant content
You can discover content in a wide variety of ways. These might range from carefully selected Twitter lists, news lists, searches, LinkedIn groups, and industry forums. I also personally find it useful to follow specialist journalists who are experts my fields of interest.

There are also a growing range of tools which can help you discover content such as or BuzzSumo. I have to declare an interest as I work for BuzzSumo but it is great at finding you the most shared recent content in any topic. I often start my day with a coffee and a search for the most shared content yesterday to ensure I am keeping up with the latest in my areas of interest.

2. Select content

You need to decide if the content you discover fits into the theme or context of the learning you are designing. In doing so, you will draw on your own expertise and judgment as a learning designer. This is a very important stage as content curation is not simply about aggregating content. The content needs to fit with the overall learning approach and the learning resources you are creating.

3. Add value to content

In my view this is a stage that is often missed in content curation. To me simply providing lists of resources is not enough. You should add value to the content for example:

  • providing context about why you have included the content
  • adding a summary of the key points in the content, so that your learner can decide if they want to delve deeper
  • highlighting related articles and content 
  • providing a perspective on the content as your commentary adds value to the learner

In summary, content curation is an important part of learning design. However, curation is not content aggregation. To be an effective content curator you need to use expertise and judgment to select content that is relevant to the learning and add value to the content.