Learning Content Curation vs. Design – Find What Suits You

Learning Content Curation vs Design

Learning Content Curation Vs. Design – Benefits and Pitfalls of Each Approach

The role of knowledge and information in learning and development has shifted quite dramatically in the last 10 years. Whereas knowledge once was a luxury available to the few, it has now become a free commodity available everywhere. Furthermore, with the impeccable speed of change it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep knowledge relevant and up-to-date. Hence, the old big investments into packaging of knowledge (learning content) have somewhat dried up – and for a valid reason. Organisations are sometimes struggling to justify the costs of designing learning activities from the ground up. As a result, a field of learning content curation has picked up. To clear up the ambiguities around content curation and learning design, let’s take a closer look into both.

What is learning content design? What is learning content curation?

Traditionally, the corporate approach to learning – and eLearning in particular – has been a design-led approach. The basic units, courses, are built from scratch. Learning content design generally starts with collection of subject matter, followed by scripting, storyboarding, building interactivity, visual design and technical execution, just to name a few. Overall, it’s a very tedious and resource-consuming process, but the results can be excellent if the designers are at the top of their game.

Learning content curation, on the other hand, relies on existing and readily available content. The fundamental principle is that of packaging, re-engineering and linking content to form coherent and relevant learning experience. Whereas a learning designer would build from scratch, a learning curator would compile material from sources available, with very little time spent on technical execution.

What’s the better approach then? Learning content curation or design?

As any complex problem, there’s no straight right or wrong answer to this one either. However, here’s a list of pros and cons with each approach that may help you to form an educated decision for your next project.

Learning Content Curation – PROS: 

Learning Content Curation – CONS:

  • There may not always be learning content available for your specific needs
  • Content cannot reach the same level of tailoring and customisation as with traditional design

Learning Content Design – PROS

  • Possible to deliver beautiful, tailored learning experiences
  • Better ability to address company specific issues – you control the type of content you have

Learning Content Design – CONS

  • Very time – and resource-consuming. Building learning content from scratch takes a very long time
  • Inflexibility in responding to rapid changes in the business and learning needs
  • Traditional top-down learning content design approaches have not produced good results (you may try more learner-centric design instead)

Finding a strategy that fits your learning needs

Overall, we expect a large shift towards a more curative approach to learning content in the future. The benefits of significant increase in flexibility and lower costs are too much to overrule. However, the design approach is not going to die either. If we were to build a corporate learning strategy on a clean table, we would advise our clients the following way. “Build capabilities for using a learning content curation approach for most of your learning content needs. Yet, consider using more comprehensive design processes to deliver training in high-impact areas”.

Are you curating or designing? Do you need help in shifting from a design focused strategy to a more agile curative approach? We can help you on the journey, just contact us.

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3 Digital Approaches to Facilitate Informal Learning

Informal Learning Digital Approach

3 Digital Approaches to Facilitate Informal Learning

Informal learning arguably makes up a large majority of all workplace learning. According to the 70:20:10 theory, informal learning accounts for up to 90% of all learning. Yet, the corporates often focus and drill down on the 10% – formal learning. As informal makes up such a large part of the learning mix, it’s important that we try to facilitate it in our organisations. It starts by doing more ‘pull’ instead of ‘push’ and creating channels for open communication, collaboration and internal influencing. Here are three easily implemented digital approaches to support informal learning in your organisation.

1. Creating communities for Social Learning Experiences

As with so many other things, communication is always the key. For informal learning to happen, you need to establish peer-to-peer communication channels within your company. These can be totally unstructured, like employees using their own social media tools to exchange information. However, it is generally advisable to adopt a semi-structured approach, whereas the company provides the platform for social collaboration and knowledge transfer. As such, the company also controls the knowledge being exchanged, and is able to intervene in problematic situations. With proper learning data tracking, you’ll also be able to pinpoint who are the internal influences and key opinion leaders within your own organisation.

In these communities, whether online or offline, employees can collaborate, exchange ideas and provide peer support. The approach is supported by the social learning theory, according to which students learn by mimicking and following others.

2. Curating accessible ‘Pull’ learning resources for on-demand needs

While corporates have generally adopted a ‘push’ model of learning, whereas content is authored by the company for to fulfil certain learning objectives, a ‘pull’ approach might is required as well. Instead of engaging in time consuming instructional design processes, companies should make the best use of free resources. The internet is full of free videos, documents and knowledge bites to use. Instead of designing content from scratch, corporate L&D professionals should focus some of their time on curating these types of content. A ‘course’ is less and less frequently the best solution to individuals’ learning needs.

Resources in various bite-sized formats, on the other hand, provide informal support at the time of need. Providing a library of curated supporting resources based on observed business needs provides a good basis for informal learning. Learners don’t have to waste time on searching the open internet for alternatives, as you’ve already curated the best resources for them. Furthermore, it’s much more easier and agile to produce curated resources than author formal courses! Hence the L&D team can save a lot of time as well.

3. Enable learning ownership and user-generated content

With a ‘pull’ approach to learning, you’re enabling individuals to take ownership of their own development. To take it further, you could also encourage them to take ownership of the organisation’s informal learning by allowing user-generated content. This type of sharing of best practices, tacit knowledge and tips and tricks is nothing new. Yet, in the age of social media, you can reap the benefits of it by providing a collaborative social learning platform. Therein, the employees can create their own content (e.g. videos) or share external resources (lectures, blogs, etc.). Even simple discussions and comment chains can provide valuable knowledge nuggets to others in the organisation.

Realistically speaking, the L&D team no longer has the best knowledge or the time to develop formal courses. Due to the speed of the economy, they might not even have time to curate all the necessary resources. By enabling users to be a part of the learning content development process, you’re able to scale up much faster. Meanwhile, you’re encouraging a more collaborative culture and letting employees to take ownership of the learning process, which should increase engagement by quite a bit. That’s the power of informal learning.

Do you need help facilitating the informal learning needs within your organisation? We’ll be happy to share you more in-depth insights, best practices and tools. Just contact us

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Experiential Learning 2.0 – Incorporating L&D into the Modern Workflow

experiential learning

Experiential Learning 2.0 – Incorporating L&D into the Modern Workflow

Experiential learning, or learning on-the-job is arguably the most effective way of learning in organisations. Whereas research supports that observation, experts have also developed many frameworks further capturing the importance of learning on the job. The 70:20:10 theory is a good example, and sets the stage by implying that 70% of learning happens on the job. While we agree that on-the-job learning might be the most important medium, we also recognise a challenge. As further research points out, experience doesn’t necessarily equal learning. Consequently, you can have a lot of experience with very little learning. Hence, it is more important than ever to ensure that we facilitate the experiential learning process in our organisations. Thus, we’ve compiled a few key tips on taking on-the-job learning to the 2.0.

On-demand and just-in-time learning work great on the job

Thanks to the adoption of mobile and other technologies, we have got access to more on-demand content than ever. Also, due to the modern nature of business and the constant change, upskilling people beforehand is becoming a mission impossible. Skills that are relevant today might not be relevant tomorrow. We are facing so many new problems and challenges in the day-to-day, that often we just have to make it up as we go along. This is where just-in time learning can help organisations thrive.

With on-demand and just-in-time done properly, people can access information and knowledge with only minor interruptions to their workflow. They are able to consume bite-sized knowledge, which reinforces their existing capabilities. Furthermore, they are able to apply the learning immediately. The application is the key part to all experiential learning. By enabling your people to learn and apply on the spot, instead of sitting them in a classroom, you can see them upskill faster than ever. Consequently, you are also ensuring that they are getting and applying the desired knowledge and not deviating too much from the SOPs or company guidelines.

You can use social learning and sharing to support the experiential learning

Naturally, amassing the library of on-demand content in the traditional way is potentially too time-consuming. Whereas learning and development professionals have traditionally curated all the learning content, that is not necessary anymore. In fact, by enabling your employees to create and share content you are able to achieve unprecedented scale. Furthermore, you ensure that the subject matter is of high quality and constantly updated. Whenever there’s a change in a particular workflow, one of the employees, a subject-matter expert, can update the key content to reflect that. Over time, the group can share best practices on any given topic as they accumulate experience.

This type of tacit knowledge gained through experience is highly valuable. It is not often that learners can get access to such a wealth of subject-matter expertise. But nowadays it is possible – thanks to technology. By giving your employees access to such knowledge base and enabling them to apply it on their jobs first hand, you are helping them to get from 0 to 100 faster than ever. That early acceleration in learning and becoming a productive individual is what helps businesses succeed in the current environment of constant change. Hence, it is important that we facilitate the experiential learning experience to reduce the time to proficiency.

All in all, experiential learning is still the most powerful way of learning. However, as everything moves so fast nowadays, we are not able to give our employees a long time to master their trade. Thus, it’s important that we take advantage of the opportunities and technologies available to transfer knowledge and develop competencies faster.

Are you facilitating on-the-job learning with the aid of technology? We happily share best practices and case studies in how to take experiential learning to the next generation. Just contact us here

 

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Empowering Employees with Collaborative Learning

collaborative learning

Empowering Employees with Collaborative Learning

In the corporate training world, we face major constraints, mainly in terms of finances and time. Naturally, this limits our ability to curate formal and structured learning activities for our employees. Hence, there are much more training needs that we can address. Yet, it is often that we have subject matter experts for virtually all these topics in our own organisation. Whereas formal training can be problematic due to the lack of agility, social and collaborative learning can help to bridge the gap in upskilling the workforce. Thus, lets take a look at how we can seamlessly empower our employees through collaborative learning.

Defining the role of collaborative learning in the learning architecture

Firstly, it’s important to start by defining where this type of social learning activities work best. In terms of employee effort required vs. value-add, it is likely that peer-to-peer learning is more suited for acquiring advanced knowledge in given topics. Loss of employee productivity is kept to a minimum, as only motivated and interested learners seek out the guidance of others. Furthermore, when there is an existing base level of knowledge, the peer-to-peer activities can focus on more experiential learning. For instance, subject matter experts could collaborate with the learners to create solutions for real business problems. Hence, you might consider providing the base knowledge through formal e-learning and then let your own experts become mentors for the interested few.

Creating platforms for peer-to-peer engagement

Consequently, for collaborative learning to work, there should be a platform for subject-matter experts and interested parties to meet. Whereas some situations may warrant a digital platform, a face-to-face approach might work well for others. The important thing is that learners are able to find “mentors” within the organisation who can guide them on their learning journey. Furthermore, learners should be able to connect with their peers to solve problems, share ideas and learn through discussion and interaction. Whatever the medium, it should be one that can be seamlessly incorporated into the flow of work. Naturally, the advantage of digital platforms is the access to e.g. discussion analytics. Proper analytics help you to capture the learning needs as well as identify key experts in your organisation.

Encouraging and motivating knowledge sharing

Naturally, it is vital to get the employees to share their expertise with others. Helping others is an area of intrinsic motivation for many. However, due to hectic jobs and everything that comes with them, you might want to consider extrinsic motivation tools as well. Gamification, for example, is an easy way to reward, recognise and motivate subject matter experts to share more. Naturally, it works also for motivating the learners to achieve more. Also, it is important to trust your employees to freely formulate their own training activities. This type of user-generated learning content approach is quite agile, as many personalised learning needs can be fulfilled rapidly. By giving the employees the freedom to dictate the collaborative learning experience, you’ll likely see much more motivated individuals as well.

Has your organisation taken up on collaborative learning or social learning? Would you like to find out about different ways to better knowledge transfer within your organisation? Just contact us and we’ll be happy to share our experiences. 

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User-Generated Learning Content – How to Approach It?

user-generated learning content

User-generated learning content – how should we approach it?

A major bottleneck with rolling out digital learning initiatives is the content production. As content is mostly done manually, L&D professionals may find themselves struggling to keep in the pace of the business change. Often, L&D professionals are managing too many roles by taking charge of the pedagogics, technical capabilities and the subject matter. In these cases, user-generated learning content can significantly reduce the workload and even improve the quality of learning materials.

Let the subject matter experts (SME) help with the Training Needs Analysis

L&D professionals like their training needs analysis. However, as we are not privy to all specific tasks and roles at different levels, the analysis often lacks relevance and actionable subject matter. Instead of L&D trying to define what training the business needs, the business should dictate what training the L&D gives. And instead of struggling with the subject matter yourself, you should let the real experts define what the tasks require. The seasoned employees know the skills and knowledge requirements of the job. You should let them play a major part in defining the training scope of the less experiences employees.

Next: source user-generated learning content from these SMEs

Once you have jointly defined the scope of training and content required, collaborate with the subject matter experts to produce it. All your employees have powerful content production capabilities with them at all times (hint: smart phones). The employees can easily produce subject matter input and the format can range from text to pictures and video.

By doing this, you are multiplying the amount of subject matter the L&D department receives and handles. With all this subject matter, the L&D professionals can focus on what they do best. Curating effective, engaging and pedagogically sound training materials. With different social platforms, you can also enable expert collaboration and peer review. This way, you can get your experts working on producing the most refined and relevant version of the content. Once the “raw” content is of very high, vetted quality, the L&D professional’s job becomes very easy.

Finally, build user-generated learning content into the everyday

To ensure continuous stream of subject matter and staying abreast of the changes on the business level, we need to change the culture. Make work or task related sharing and documentation the norm. Social sharing among the employees can be easily incentivised through different social platforms by e.g. gamification or financial rewards. Thanks to easy traceability, it’s very easy to incorporate these activities into e.g. performance assessments. Furthermore, tools for recording, screen capturing and sharing are so prevalent, that no major technological adoptions are needed.

By doing this, you ensure that the L&D professionals can keep in the pace of the business change. They’ll be able to predict future training needs better, thanks to increased visibility and transparency. Also, in challenging situations and business emergencies, they have the subject matter and network to roll out complementary training much faster.

Is your L&D department struggling to keep pace with business change? These types of social learning approaches may help. To find out more, just contact us here.

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