As employees increasingly use mobile devices at work, the demand for short, object-based learning content is also increasing. As a result, the use of corporate learning libraries has grown rapidly. Having easy access to a large amount of content means that employees can find the information they need almost anytime, anywhere and on any device.
However, the evolution of learning libraries means that training professionals need a way to ensure that employees are consuming the right content for their jobs: content that is both accurate and relevant in their organizational context. L&D professionals, therefore, need to add a new skill to their toolkit: content curation.
What Is Content Curation?
Content curation is the process of organizing a large amount of web- and enterprise-based content and presenting it so that it’s meaningful to learners. Content curators prevent content overload and ensure the content that learners consume is both accurate and relevant for their jobs. Curation is so important that Training Industry includes it as one of the fundamental processes in its Training Process Framework.
Content curation enables informal and self-directed training, empowering employees to manage their own learning, including content selection, timing and delivery. Tools such as recommendations and ratings by learners, as well as system-generated recommendations enabled by machine learning, support this process. Encompassing videos, self-study, reading articles, participating in forums and chat rooms, performance support, coaching, and games, informal learning is increasingly popular and effective. In fact, when asked about the importance of informal and self-directed learning, Todd Tauber (vice president of product marketing at Degreed) replied with another question: “How much time do you have?”
A New Partnership
Earlier this month, Degreed and GP Strategies announced a new partnership to assist their clients with content curation. The partnership will offer Degreed’s platform to GP Strategies’ clients in the U.S. federal government and worldwide commercial enterprises, thus augmenting GP Strategies’ services and expanding Degreed’s client base.
“We really view it as an enhancement,” says Bill Finegan, vice president of enterprise technology solutions at GP Strategies. In the last few months, GP Strategies’ clients have been moving toward a curated approach. To help automate that process, they will now be able to integrate Degreed’s platform with their existing LMS.
GP Strategies’ clients need “evolution, not revolution,” says Finegan. The partnership with Degreed will help them take the next step by providing flexibility without “blowing up” the system they already have in place.
The Need for Context
Finegan says that as millennials have entered the workforce and baby boomers have started leaving it, informal learning has become more important. Tauber adds that the way people learn in the workforce is very different from the way they learned at school; they might participate in formal learning a few times a year, but they’re participating in informal learning every day.
Last year, Degreed surveyed 512 workers and found data to support these claims. At least once a week, almost 85 percent of respondents learn something for work through an online search, and almost 70 percent learn from peers or by reading articles and blogs. However, only 28 percent search their company’s LMSs, and only 21 percent look to L&D or HR departments, to find content. Additionally, in 2016, research by Towards Maturity found that while 88 percent of employees know what content they need, only 42 percent say that their companies provide it.
According to Finegan, the content curator role is an evolution of the training coordinator. He or she is a person who understands the LMS, the content that’s already available and the content that is appropriate for the organization. Training professionals, says Tauber, need to spend their time creating and delivering high-value, high-touch programs. For smaller programs, it’s not cost-effective to start from scratch, so the ability to curate existing content is crucial.
Sarah Danzl, enterprise marketing and communications leader at Degreed, adds an example: A client of theirs, a national financial institution, had a “wild west” of content stored in over 200 places. Employees use Google because it helps them find information immediately. Danzl says that content curation helps organizations provide that same immediacy, but with the information their employees really need. What drives success, she says, is the ability to provide context.
Meeting Business Needs
With the surplus of content available to training organizations, it’s important to ensure that curation not only meets learner needs but also meets the business’ needs. To do so, training managers should communicate with business leaders to understand the organization’s goals and how training can help meet those goals.
It’s also important to assess the library each year to determine which courses should be retired and which courses are in high demand due to new business initiatives or projects. When sourcing content, Tauber says, “stay close to the operational needs” and “find vendors that will work with you as partners” to make sure those business goals are met.
“They don’t know what they have,” says Finegan of many clients. LMSs can track a great deal of information that can assist in content curation. Organizations can leverage data such as content ratings and recommendations, for example, to help them make decisions when curating content.
As employees increasingly rely on technology and peer-to-peer learning for training, the use of learning libraries and corresponding need for content curation will only grow. By following some best practices and keeping business goals in mind, training professionals can add curation to their toolkit, empowering learners and contributing to organizational success.