Curation for Learning: Notes from IDeL Meetup April 2018

Create Vs Curate Matrix 3d IllustrationAs always, the Sydney Instructional Design and eLearning Meetup was bursting with great presenters sharing their stories and lots of valuable content with us.  The only problem I ever come across with IDeL is the fact that it has to end! Big thanks to the organisers and presenters for their time and effort to put together a worthwhile event.

I love the topic of curation and in the past have written an article and also put together an online summit focused purely on curation which I will be making available shortly – if you’d like more details about that please contact me.

The following is a summary of my personal notes taken at the IDeL event, so is not intended as an official run down of the content covered, or report on individual speakers, more like points that I felt were noteworthy as part of my own curation journey.  If you were at the event and would like to add anything to this post please either do so through the comments section below or send me your input and I will add along with an acknowledgement of your contribution.

Please note that I have not linked any content to specific speakers here for purposes of confidentiality but if any of this material was yours and you would like to lay claim to it, I invite you to do so in the comments.

Trade traffic for content

You can curate content created by others into courses or bigger learning pathways.

It can be a good idea to content the author of the content and request their permission to do so as some people are not always happy about this, especially when you are curating for courses you charge for. But in most cases you will find that the author is happy for their content to be included in your curated program if they are benefitting from the online traffic you and your learners will provide.

For each module, make sure that you include info on:

  • reading/listening/watching time
  • rource
  • description of content
  • direct link to source website/page
  • instructions for the learner on the context in which the content can be applied or what you would like them to do with it in context of the learning program they are participating in.

It’s also a good idea (if your infrastructure allows) to include social collaborative tools for people to discuss and ask questions on artefacts.  When doing this, ensure that a moderator is checking the forums regularly in order to respond in a timely manner appropriate to the learning experience.

Gamification using leaderboards as learners complete modules can also add another dimension to the program. Many LMSs already have this functionality available.

Do the CRAP test

There is an abundance of content we can work with as part of our curation efforts, but you need to test for CRAP; Currency, Relevance, Authority and Purpose.

Also, ensure that as part of your maintenance process you are running regular checks on curated content for broken links. You can enlist the help of bots to find and fix links for you.

Shape who you listen to

Think carefully about who you “listen to” when you are curating.

Make sure that they are credible sources but also get a good mix of voices in there. Don’t just focus on industry leaders, or people who support your own (or the commonly accepted) viewpoints.  Include contrarians and outliers too in order to present the bigger picture and maybe challenge the status quo with disruptive content.

Shape what you listen for

As with the above tip, it’s about focus.  Get focused on what you are listening for.

There is so much information coming at us at any one time, it can be hard to get specific about areas for our own personal development or that of others.

Hashtags are one great way to do this. Pick your topic(s), research the best hashtags and use them to filter out the noise.

Connect content with content

Group artefacts together to make it easier for learners to move through content. As per previous point above, assigning hashtags, categories and tags to content you curate is essential in making this happen.

Connect content to people

Help people quickly and easily find what is relevant to them. Curate content in context of learning pathways, allow options for people to follow updates to content (think RSS feeds and hashtags), use AI to help suggest content (think Netflix) and allow for dialogue around content by including options for people to comment on, like and share content.

Get people to create “playlists”

I love this idea!  Rather than being focused on music (although music may be included in them), these playlists are about people’s favourite resources on a given topic, for example, you can get your CEO to compile their top 5 resources for aspiring leaders.

Resources can be personal tips, books, websites, podcasts, people to follow on Twitter – anything that person has used to help in their own education on that topic which they feel is shareworthy.

In the example given, the organisation had created a bit of functionality for people to create and publish their own playlists, but even if you don’t have the option to do that, why not get people to email you and just publish as short blog posts or email blasts?

This is a great example of improving efficiency and productivity through user generated content.

Of course, each resource will need to have some context around it from the author to make sense to the reader, but in most cases this can be done in a sentence or two, then it’s up to the reader how they apply it to their own personal learning.

Curation before creation

Skills development of people is an essential part of any business strategy, but one of the biggest challenges faced by L&D in recent times is how to create good learning solutions to enable skills development at the pace required by business while still being cost effective.

One organisation had over 28,000 pieces of learning content in their LMS, so they started by rationalising their content, rather than spending more time and money creating something new.

All content was reviewed against a set of criteria and if kept, was given context in terms of a role and skills.

Content was then incorporated into curated programs and/or categorised and tagged so it could be easily found by anyone looking for it.

Change how you think about content and learning

We can’t continue to talk about the learning landscape changing – it has already changed significantly will continue to evolve.

Our job now is to challenge how we think about learning in our organisations to support the modern learner.

One example given was to implement Bersin’s 4 E’s model (and incorporate other research on the modern learner) rather than taking a 70:20:10 approach to learning.

Move to dynamic rather than static content

Rather than downloading content from the internet and uploading to the LMS, link directly to the source which will ensure any updates happen real time so learners are always seeing latest content.

This may need some assistance from IT in relation to firewalls around particular sites and content but ultimately will provide a better learning experience.

Follow a process

One example given was of a 6 week cycle used to create curated programs. There were specific steps in the process which time and resources could be allotted to. This will help the focus and ROI of your curation efforts rather than everyone randomly scouring the internet for appropriate content.

Create and/or curate to add value

When we think about curators, minds typically turn to museums.  Those curators displayed artefacts of value (historic, significant, monetary) so that people could appreciate the value.

When curating, ask yourself: does what I create or curate add value?

And remember that the answer to this question is about value as perceived by the learner, not necessarily the organisation’s leaders.

You may need to be brave 😊

Let go and let learn

This is probably the biggest takeaway of all from this event.

It was certainly the one that got most people fidgeting in their seats!

Adopt a distributed authorship model and embrace user generated content.

Stop trying to control what and how people learn.

Stop worrying about the quality of user generated content. 

Let people vote with their feet and show you what content they are finding most useful in that learning context, e.g. via clicks, shares, likes, comments, etc.

We all need to be data analysts

We can curate data to inform the landscape that enables people to go to the next level.

In order to do this we need to challenge our own ideals.

It’s still L&D Jim, but not as we know it 😉

Recommend content through internal comms

One of the speakers shared that they send a monthly content recommendation to their learners.

This can be content that the organisation asks them to push, or content they feel has context in the moment or answers a specific question.

By making this a regular activity, learners will become used to that communication as an education channel and choose to consume if they wish.

Curate and relate

The example given on this tip started with a piece of content that a global organisation had created discussing their views on and approach to leadership.

The speaker’s organisation then created a piece (or curated from archives, not sure which) on their views and approach to leadership.

Several other resources were curated to give a bigger picture on others’ views and approaches to leadership, followed up by a couple of tools and resources (also curated internally) to help learners to reflect, discuss and implement based on the content given.

A solid example of how to curate and relate instead of creating from scratch.


Thanks again to all the Meetup speakers for sharing their pearls of wisdom with us.

Were you there? If so, what did you take away from this event?

Are you curating at the moment? If so, what are your challenges, lessons and wins that you can share with the community?