An unfortunate thing about my example is that this is something that we’ve all done and continue to do in our training solutions. In this regard we are constantly facing a dilemma with our students.
Do we focus on?
- Low performers and bore the rest of our students.
- High performers and confuse the rest of our students or
- Average performers and lose a significant number of our students to boredom and confusion.
Since our compliance masters don’t care—they just want to know that training was completed—we often choose the last option. After all, average performers should account for a majority of our students and the other students will receive training— it’s just not optimal for their needs.
As an educator, we should be interested in improving everyone’s performance, so I’m not convinced that this solution is appropriate. Moving forward we have to stop being unhelpful with these students.
Who are We Training
To do this, we first need to recognize that low performers (novices) and high performers (experts) are being underserved in our training activities. And from these groups we should note:
- Even our experts can improve their performance. Occasionally our experts may employ old methods/procedures or they may be new to an organization and its unique needs.
- Our novices lack the skills and background necessary for deep metacognitive activities. Being able to determine, “how well I am doing,” “is this content relevant,” and “what should I do to improve” is crucial to developing skills.
- Our novices lack strong ties to subject matter experts as their personal learning networks are filled with other novices. These networks are important as we go to them for quick guidance and information.
All of this is important when considering the 70/20/10 model for Learning and Development. This model states that 70% of our work knowledge is the result of on-the-job activities; 20% is the result of mentoring pursuits and 10% of our knowledge is the result of formal training. Although this model is debatable, it highlights another idea that needs to be stressed:
"Your students are going to get trained on how to do their job and most of this training will be outside of your control."
This is disturbing as we know that our novices lack the metacognitive abilities and developed networks to easily learn how to do their job. These challenges ensure that they are going to make mistakes and worse yet, they may fail to learn from these mistakes.
How Curation Helps Novices
Fortunately we can lessen these risks by adding touch points with our students after our learning events. A well-timed post on how to accomplish a task may be just the thing that a novice needs to put them back on track. Better yet, creating a resource that students can access and search for knowledge, offers additional guidance opportunities for them.
Finding, organizing and distributing content are key activities of a curator and it’s these activities that will allow you to create the additional touch points that your novices need. Here you can share articles, podcasts, videos and other sources that supplement or expand on the topics you have covered. These touch points are important as we know that these students will need extra repetition, practice and feedback to learn.
How Curation Helps Experts
The benefits of curation are not just limited to your novices though. In particular, curation will provide opportunities for you to develop and grow your experts. This is because many curated sites and tools allow for comments, user submissions, postings, rankings, and other common social media features.
These technologies create environments that foster collaboration and it’s in these environments where your experts will shine. In this regard, your experts are skilled because they continually update their knowledge—they read, question, try new things and then revise.
Many of your experts will use these environments to help them in their own internal development quests—here they will post comments; reply to articles and questions; and may even create content to post. This collaboration is profound as it will require evaluation, synthesis and creation skills—these skills are at the highest levels on Bloom’s taxonomy.
As your curation site evolves it can become a valued resource for your organization. Recent technologies like Experience API will increase this value by providing opportunities to track user participation and activity. And as this approach gains acceptance a new meme may be in order. Let’s call it the Helpful Content Curator and some examples are:
Now the only really difficult choice is figuring out the ClipArt to use for this meme.
Steven Loomis has developed performance support tools and training solutions for the legal, banking and healthcare sectors.
He is currently a Learning Technologies Manager for a large healthcare provider. He enjoys directing and implementing initiatives that involve the field’s evolving learning technologies.