Learning curation- why your L&D strategy needs to be on board!

stack of books with top one open to represent the concept of learning curation

Learning curation is a valuable component of any learning and development programme- but what does it really mean to ‘curate learning’? Why would we choose it over automated creation? And how do we use it to design meaningful experiences for our learners?

What is learning curation?

When creating learning experiences, there are different ways of doing so, some involving more work than others.

We can think of these different methods as existing on a spectrum, with creation on one end (you’re doing everything yourself, such as creating a virtual workshop from scratch) and aggregation on the other (you’re not creating anything, and you might even use a machine to find and aggregate content for you, providing no additional context). Learning curation lies in the middle. Content is collected and aggregated, but then a human, not an algorithm, makes decisions about quality and relevancy. Ideally, additional context and commentary are added, and perhaps only a fraction of the original is displayed directly, with a clear link to the source included. This helps learners understand why something is relevant to them and ultimately enables them to conceptualise and apply this new information.

Why should you curate learning?

Learning is no longer a “nice-to-have” but has become a “must-have”.

We must consistently update and refresh our learning, to keep up with current trends, research and best practice. Unfortunately, skills have a shelf-life, and formal training isn’t always as up-to-date as we need it to be. Curated content ensures we build continuous learning and development in to our training, and adds recent, up-to-date, fresh content.

Learning curation can also help our learning to be more flexible, able to adapt to our learners schedule and time constraints. By offering microlearning experiences as part of our learning curation, which are chunked into categories or learning paths, learning can slot in to our day more easily than formal training. Learners can take in bite-sized chunks of information when and where they want.

Learning curation is also a more cost-effective solution when compared to creating workshops and materials from scratch, and often better matches the budget and time constraints of L&D departments.

How does learning curation work?

Curating learning is more than just collecting articles and sending them out to your learners. Experienced learning curators collect, categorise, evaluate and conceptualise content for their learners before circulating it. They think about which format is best suited to the needs of their learners and the information they want to convey. They do all this work so that their learners don’t have to. By seeking out only the most relevant information and providing additional context and insights when, learning curators take the burden of sifting through endless resources from their learners. As a result, their learning curation reduces learners’ cognitive load, and ultimately achieves focused learning transfer. 

Learning curation should take in to account two factors

1. Designing for learning

Curated learning content can be circulated on a variety of different platforms: no matter which platform you choose, presentation matters. Consider things like accessibility, white space, consistency and an overall theme that doesn’t distract from the content. Visual hierarchy, or creating a natural next step for your learners, is also something to keep in mind. Good design in learning curation isn’t just about creating a pleasing aesthetic. Learning design should focus on using universal design principles to create a calming environment that enables the achievement of predefined learning outcomes. Just like you would when creating formal courses, it’s crucial to start with the end in mind.

2. Adding a social learning element to your curated content

Curated learning and microlearning are often opportunities to include a social learning aspect. From commenting and liking, to even adding their own curated content, learners can become extremely involved in the process. This added element of collaboration and interaction can make learning more fun, engaging and natural. Plus, it allows knowledge to be embedded, and conversations to extend beyond the ‘classroom’ environment. Consider how you can add an element of conversation or collaboration in to your content.

Final thoughts

Adding learning curation to your L&D strategy is definitely worth pursuing. When it comes to meaningful learning transfer, and learner experience, it has the potential to bring your training programme to the next level. Perhaps it is worth looking in your design process– learning never stays stagnant- and your training should reflect this!

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