The evolution of human interactions enabled by technology has shaped the way learners consume and produce information, and the learning landscape itself is evolving at a rapid pace. The shift from structured, individual, local learning to self-directed, collaborative, global learning is the key hallmark of modern blended learning, with evolving technologies opening up options for where, when and how we deliver learning.

The traditional approach of delivery-focused, instructor-centered, scheduled events has taken a back seat to more informal approaches: ongoing, learner-centered, decentralized learning solutions that focus on results. Our learners have the freedom to explore whatever resources they choose, so how do we leverage this opportunity to explore, curate and deliver the resources we know will address their moments of learning need?

Part of the Process

As a result of the plethora of content for our learners to search through, content curation has become an integral part of the learning experience design process. Within the modern blended learning context, the content curation process has developed into an iterative flow of searching, filtering, embedding and contextualizing learning assets to meet a defined purpose, theme or community.

As learning content curators, our responsibility is to understand the scope of learning before the curation process begins and to always keep the learners and purpose in mind while filtering and selecting learning assets to share. As with every learning experience, learning objectives should drive the purpose of curating content. We naturally take the community into consideration when defining the purpose of our curation efforts, and the purpose of curating learning content will drive the theme.

The exploration and content selection process requires an expert eye, and here is where technology comes in most handy. Curation technologies and applications that use artificial intelligence engines and algorithms browse content published on the web and allow us to create filters using keywords, phrases or top influencers. These automated tools bring in a wide range of results and are updated on a regular basis – sometimes within seconds.

The value of these results lies in the time and care put into developing these intelligence engines in the first place. The process involves thinking about the needs, interests and goals of our learners and setting up search parameters that will bring us the most relevant results. From there, it takes a human touch and a certain level of expert judgment to filter and find the best results. The key to successful filtering is remembering that curation is an ongoing task, and selecting the keywords, influencers, tags and topics that drive the intelligence engines should be an ongoing effort.

Providing Context and Annotation

The greatest value of curated learning content comes through annotation and providing context. We, as curators, act as field guides, adding expertise to the showcase of selected learning assets. In the modern learning landscape, annotation is more than letting learners know where and when learning content was published; it is wrapping knowledge around the selected learning content, contextualizing it within the learning landscape and establishing its relevance to the learning objectives.

Here is our opportunity to let our learners know what’s in it for them. Curation, in the true sense of the word, is not just about selecting and displaying information; it is about preserving and caring for the information that we share. Part of process is asking our learners to participate in the curation and provide feedback on curated materials. That feedback will enable us to refine the scope of content that we share and to focus the context we provide in the future.

Shaping the Future

As the learning landscape evolves, content curation tools and applications will become more seamlessly integrated into learning management systems, social media platforms and training asset development tools. These technologies will make it easier for us to search, filter and share appropriate content. Not to worry, though – we will still need human curators to further filter, contextualize and situate our curated results into the learning experience.