Design learning and build credibility through curation

by | Oct 9, 2017 | Articles, Featured, General

Six out of 10 people will share links online without actually reading beyond the headline, according to research.

Now think about the data that we create and consume every second of the day. The site Internet Live Stats will show you the scale of information on the web and the rate at which it is being created. This is our context. We are surrounded by information.

And now think about all the content that sits within the firewall of your organisation. Doubtless you have a mountain of learning content sitting there, most of it not being accessed on a regular basis.

The research tells us two things.

First, too many people are adding to the noise of the internet by blindly sharing updates without reading them first.

Second, there is a huge opportunity for you, your team and your business to be the signal amongst all the noise.

Both points can be addressed if we take a more curatorial approach to content. By this I mean you becoming the filter and sense maker of information – thus reducing the noise for your audience. And then sharing relevant information (with context) which helps you become the signal amongst all the noise.

In order to do this successfully you need to:

  • Understand who you are doing this for – yourself, internal teams and stakeholders, customers, peers, potential customers
  • Understand what content they need – that means asking them about their challenges
  • Understand how they like to receive it – which channels and what frequency
  • Get comfortable with the fact less is more, but make sure you promote what you are doing because it has a lot of value
  • Park the default idea that plagues L&D – that new content needs to be produced to overcome a performance challenge.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of asking people about their challenges so that you can curate content to help them overcome them. This is different to asking them what content they would like to receive from you. People tend to say they would find something useful but in reality won’t read it – it becomes a nice to have rather than essential reading. Helping with challenges is much more powerful. The focus needs to be on performance, not learning.

Once you know this, design a process for filtering all the resources available to you, be they internal resources or from the web. Curation is a process for sense checking and sharing resources in useful, relevant and timely ways.

Taking this approach needs an open mind. You might find that internal resources don’t hit the mark. That’s OK because you can edit and repackage them. Be prepared to do this because internal resources can date and lose relevance.

So what might a curated approach to learning look like? Let’s take on-boarding – a process most L&D professionals will be responsible for supporting.

Before starting a programme for new recruits, ask previous recruits what they needed from the on-boarding process that they didn’t get. This is a good place to start the design process.

To help new recruits to get up to speed with the company before day one you could send them a curated email of useful resources that might include tips on getting to the office, the first day schedule, links to HR/admin tasks that can be completed prior to starting and so on. It is likely you will have these resources already. The curated approach means you can search out the most useful and relevant resources and package that up. This is a fundamentally different approach to designing onboarding.

As well as using curation as a process for designing learning, you can use it to develop your own knowledge and skills.  There are many tools available to help you do this and here we share three free tools that you can use to stay abreast of industry trends.

1. Google Alerts or Meltwater Alerts

These two alerts services will send you updates on the search terms you select as and when something is published on the web. You can choose the frequency of notifications and how you receive those notifications (email or RSS feed). If you choose email be sure to set up a filter in your inbox so they go to a dedicated folder or else you will get a steady stream of notifications straight into your inbox.

To get good quality information back make sure you use the right search ‘operators’ – this is the syntax (words, punctuation) you can use in Google to refine searches. The most useful one is putting an exact word or phrase that you are looking for in quote marks, the name of a competitor for example (“competitor”). This will automatically exclude all other words or terms. More on operators here.

2. Sign up to relevant newsletters

Whatever market you are in, or want to get in to, there will be vendor, analyst or media brands that produce regular newsletters. Sign up to those you think are useful and will provide relevant insights into your sector.

3. Twitter lists

Find useful and relevant people and brands to follow on Twitter and then create a list so that you can easily scan who is saying and sharing what. This list can be private or public depending on whether you want people to know you have listed them. If you are unsure who to follow use a tool such as Followerwonk to search Twitter biographies. Then add to your list. If you use a tool like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck then add the list as a column – it makes it easier to follow.

Once you have your feeds, think about how to add context to what you are sharing – reading time to blog posts and articles, 50 words to explain a link in an email, some context to tweets and LinkedIn updates. These devices help people decide whether or not to click on your link. This is where you add value versus sharing links you have not read.

Whether you are an L&D professional or an L&D vendor, the approach outlined here can also be used as a part of your marketing effort. By curating content and sharing it to the right people you build up your reputation as someone who knows what they are talking about. Over time you will build your credibility.

With so much noise it is the credible voices that are listened to. That credible voice could and should be yours.

About Martin

Martin is a Supporter of Towards Maturity and director of content and communications agency Itsdevelopmental Ltd. He works with organisations to help them tell their stories by creating and curating compelling content. He is also an innovator in L&D, helping start the L&D Connect Unconferences, successfully designing and delivering four massive, open online courses and launching LearnPatch, a curation platform for L&D. He won the award for special achievement in L&D at the Training Journal awards 2016.

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