The Art Of Content Curation: 7 Steps To Efficiently Find The Right Information
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How To Master The Art Of Content Curation

I am a learner, a real deal learner. I love it and it defines me. But I suffer, like most of us, of the limited time this busy life has become more and more about. So, I have realized how critical content curation is and the difference it can make in our lives. As a professional of the Learning and Development field, I see curation as a tool, process, and skill that becomes every day more important. Or at least it should be.

The Importance Of Content Curation For Learning And Development

According to the article by Stephen Walsh, research from (International Data Corporation) shows that the average employee spends about 9.5 hours per week hunting around for information before finding what they need.

Curation is an effective answer to reduce such hunting-time. Karla Gutiérrez says curation is a way to read through mountains of irrelevant information to find what the learner really needs.

But curation is not just about selecting and displaying information. It deals with identifying the most relevant information for a specific group or target audience and contextualizing and organizing it before presenting it to them.

Then…

What Do You Need To Curate Content?

In a way, the process of finding, aggregating, and selecting relevant content has always been a key skill in learning design. However, as the digital world has developed and the volume of content around us has grown massively, content curation is becoming more important.

Steve Ryson and Lumesse consider that there is a skillset that every curator needs to undertake this role effectively:

  1. Find.
  2. Filter.
  3. Grade.
  4. Synthesize.
  5. Contribute.
  6. Signpost.

(Read more about them in this article.)

I would add “resourcefulness” as the 7th skill. Maybe a transversal and critical skill (read this). Now, how to use these skills is the real question.

Curation is not just a matter of selecting and handing over articles or pieces of info. Let's say you are in the road to the curation skillset but want to give it a shot curating learning content for your client, trainees, peers, or a friend (why not?). What you should do? Here is how to master the art of content curation:

1. Know What Your Learners Need

Obvious, right? And frequently overlooked as well. You cannot curate content if you don’t know which type of learning content you’re looking for. So, get to know your learner needs before doing any other thing.

Answer these sort of questions:

  • What are my learner's goals? What are my learner's pains?
  • Which skills the learner needs to address goals and pains?
  • What information the learner requires to solve a problem or challenge?

How you can get this information?

Conduct surveys, social media polls, and interviews to get to know your learners and the goals they are trying to achieve.

2. Filter Efficiently

Time to narrow info down. Filtering content is important to allow your audience to see what will be genuinely of value to them.

Let's say they want to learn about mobile learning, but much more about the technical aspect of mobile learning: Platforms, launching, programming, etc. So, you will need to filter info about mobile learning keeping only those articles, tools, courses, and sites that talk about it.

3. Find Reliable Sources

Knowing where to find information is one of the most challenging aspects of eLearning content curation. There is so much of data out there, that you need to build and update a list of reliable sources. After all, you can't hand over doubtful or questionable info. You need to dive into magazines, sites, blogs, courses, people. Therefore, you have to make it smart and make it different:

Automation: Finding and filtering could be demanding jobs. So, make it smart and easy. In this episode, John Lee Dumas mentions that you can use some sources to automate your search. Inbound.org or buzzsumo.com are engines that assist you to find info about topics already filtered and ranked. You also can create Google Alerts for key terms (e.g. competitor names) or use apps like the Anders Pink app (an algorithm that can review over 8 million posts published today).

These sites show you the best of the best, the latest and the trendiest of particular topics and they are trustable. Real time-savers.

Think different: Info can come from the most diverse sources. Do not limit yourself to magazines, blogs, books, and other conventional sources. Try the Q&A sections of certain sites regarding a topic, check the top 10s in Amazon and iTunes, listen to podcasts (I love them), check out the trending topics from the different platforms around (configure the settings for that, now!).

4. Identify The Ideal Content Curation Approach

There are several different content curation methodologies. The one you choose depends on the needs of your learners (everything depends on that), available resources, and time constraints.

For example,

  1. Aggregation.
    It is basically curating the most relevant information about a topic into a single location. This is the most common form of content curation. It tends to take be shown as a “5 effective mobile learning apps” note.
  2. Chronology.
    It is basically put info in the form of a timeline to show the history of a topic. Great to see milestones, and how concepts and understanding changed over time.

There are more curation approaches. As always, it depends on what your learner needs, what your resources are, and what your objectives say. You can find more about methods here.

5. Make It Accessible And Easy To Identify

Nowadays, learners don’t have a lot of time to search through pages of offline and online resources (in part that’s why you are curating content). Sometimes, they do not even have the time to check the intranet or clouds like Dropbox or Google Drive.

They need to be able to quickly click on a link or be able to locate the exact chapter in a book. Then, you need to make a clear guide and categorization of the curated content: Storing, cataloging, and archiving are words and skills you need to be familiar with.

I tend to do this in my emails to my peers:

Some behaviors / mindsets I have grabbed from different sources when they talk about Digital and Innovation, and that you might want to dig deeper:

  • Choosing the right problems to solve. (Podcast: The Jobs to be Done – HBR Chapter 554)
  • Think about having a Design Thinking experimented Coach for each Achieve Team. (E.g. Intuit in the Book "Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works")

About Health

  • Read the Chapter of "Me You Health" of the book "Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works".

You must locate your curated content where your audience are most likely to find it and engage with it. We are using WhatsApp groups in our company and it is working very well. Other resources to host your curated info may be Facebook or Telegram. Again: Observe your users and find out how they usually access for information.

6. Add Your Insights And Comments

Curation means more than just selecting and passing over a piece of information. This is about adding commentary, context, and insights. It must help learners to understand better and get more from the content you have presented to them.

Make sure that your curated content contains the what’s-in-it-for-me information: How the content is relevant, the overarching learning goals. Basically, what can learners expect from the data.

As Robin Good says, good curators are trusted guides that add value to content.

7. Curate Again And Again... And Again

Finding, filtering and curating content to make it personal is not a one-time thing. New content is created in the next minute. You need to keep up to the date all the time. The first beneficiary of curation must be you. In a way, you need to be aware of everything at every moment, to know what will be useful and what won’t.

Make personal, daily habits to check your sources and share articles. Subscribe to the mailing list of new sites, check Twitter, LinkedIn and online magazines. Read a lot, filter hard, and repeat.

Extra Step: Ask for feedback (this is a step for any thing you do) all the time, as much as possible. The insights you have will help you provide more focused and meaningful content in future.

Curation: An Endless Job

Curating is not just a matter of selecting and handing over articles or pieces of info. You need to be a real filter. You need to be not only resourceful, but also insightful. Moreover, once you curate information as part of your learning design process, you must make of it a habit and curate even yourself. Your learners will appreciate it and it will pay off to you, to the learner, and to the organization.

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