Driving engagement in learning: content strategy and curation

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“Today’s knowledge economy will only thrive if its driving force – adults in the workforce – learn continuously. And with skilled people now the key to business success, those individuals will need to keep learning just to stay economically active.” – Donald H Taylor (Chairman – The Learning and Performance Institute)

A high-performing organisation is one that is engaged and continuously learning. As was the focus of conferences such as Learning Technologies and the CIPD Festival of Work this year, technology is evolving, automation is on the rise and new roles are being created all the time. Now more than ever, L&D has a critical role in future-proofing the workforce with the skills they need to keep up with the fast-changing business landscape.

And in order to maximise performance, gain knowledge and grow their skills, employees need great learning content.

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What are our current challenges?

With a growing wealth of content readily available at the touch of a button, CMI predicts that between now and 2020, the amount of information on the internet is expected to increase by 500%. Every minute of every day, YouTube users upload a staggering 72 hours of new video and Google receives over 4,000,000 search queries. And as we noted in ‘Learning in the Modern Workplace: What Does Modern Learning Look Like?’, today’s employees need learning that’s accessible and available whenever they need it. When you have a problem – say, you don’t know how to work a particular function on a car music player – chances are, you’ll do a quick Google search on your smartphone and find a help video that can give you an answer in seconds. You wouldn’t want to be trawling through articles and videos about the different music players, unrelated information about the car or a round-up of price comparisons. It might well be useful content if those things are what you are looking for, but for the current problem, it’s irrelevant. Without searching for specific terms, the mammoth task of sifting through a rapidly-growing wealth of information proves frustrating rather than engaging.

This is why, as a modern L&D practitioner, you need to start branching out from your role of content creator and add the skills of content curator.

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What are the benefits of content strategy and curation?

A content strategy is more often associated with marketing, but the skills of marketing are becoming increasingly useful in L&D. By definition, a content strategy “focuses on the planning, creation, delivery and governance of content.” This includes all forms of content – whether that’s text, images or other multimedia. And if you’re going to make sure that learning content is targeted, relevant and useful, a solid content strategy can make or break engagement. It’s the ‘what’, ‘who’ and ‘why’ of your content.

Knowing what your strategy is in turn helps you to curate the right content to the right people at the right time.

Curation is the process of selecting, organising and managing a collection of items – in this case, your learning content. It involves you aggregating the relevant content according to your strategy and sharing it with the learner. The beauty of this is that it saves you both the time and cost of hours spent creating the all the right content from scratch – instead, you can aggregate ready-made resources from multiple channels and align it with your position. This isn’t about reinventing the wheel or overcomplicating things. Curation is all about keeping it simple, engaging and on-topic to benefit both you and your learners.

For example, perhaps you think the topic would be best presented as video. And then perhaps you’d like to include an accompanying article for further reading. With curation, you can add some variety to your learning at the touch of a button.

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What role do learning technologies play in content strategy and curation?

The curation and aggregation of content is a key part of any learning management system (LMS) or learning experience platform (LXP). Do you currently use an LMS? Or have you got onboard with the LXP? Perhaps you’re in the process of considering which option to go for.

One key thing that becomes apparent before making your decision is that a robust content strategy is something you need to have in line to ensure that learners are engaged and keep coming back to learn. They need high-quality, relevant content that’s easily accessible – present them with an unsorted mass of unrelated resources and the overwhelm will have them logging out faster than you can say ‘cognitive overload’.

The modern L&D practitioner no longer ‘spoon-feeds’ content to learners by creating content and pushing it to learners in classrooms and traditional online courses. Today, by using the appropriate technology, we can grant the learner control of their own journey to give them a more personalised, empowering and engaging experience.

We have explored in a previous post the benefits of an informal learning library when it comes to curation. Also referred to as a knowledge bank, content repository or digital resource library, it serves as a facilitator in organising and providing the relevant knowledge on-demand. It creates a hub whereby you can aggregate and curate a wealth of training tools and resources, and in turn encourages the organic growth of ‘good’ content.

Our Thinqi platform is a perfect example of how the right learning technology can help you overcome the challenges of curating the right content. Our ‘Playlists’ feature is a handy tool that allows you to aggregate content from different sources quickly and easily, combining them into a single piece of learning content. This is achieved through an easy-to-use search function and a simple drag and drop tool. Found a brilliant article to complement a video or presentation? Add it to a Playlist or simply bookmark it and it’s there for future reference, whenever it’s needed.

No fear of losing it in an ever-expanding sea of content.

How can you guide users to similar, relevant content? The answer is ‘tags’. Just as hashtags on social media can guide people to related content on a topic, so tagging an article in Thinqi can allow a learner to click on the relevant tag from a useful resource, providing them with a Smartie-trail of related resources aligned with your strategy.

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In summary…

Rather than using vast amounts of valuable time and resources creating everything in-house, the curation approach allows you to ‘pull’ learners to content as they embark on more self-led learning journeys – with your content strategy firmly in place to act as your guide.

However, this is not to say that content creation has had its day – bespoke learning content is still necessary for filling the gaps and complementing curated resources. Using the two together, aligned with your content strategy, means money saved, increased productivity, greater engagement and maximisation of ROI. A great content strategy and the right curation tools can help strengthen your learning offerings, reduce time and money spent, and help both you and your learners overcome the challenges of too much content.

It’s about the right resources, aligned to the right strategy, delivered at the right time.

If you would like to learn more about how our cutting-edge modern learning platform can help you create and curate the most effective content, we've got the tools and expertise to help you succeed. Request a demo to arrange to speak to one of our experts.

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