Elearning is usually shorthand for linear courses of one kind or another. They’ve been around for a long time. Unfortunately their reputation isn’t great. The Towards Maturity Benchmark Report in 2016 reported:
- 60% of people learn more by finding things out for themselves than from formal courses.
- Only 47% of learners find elearning courses essential or very useful.
Not great customer feedback for the elearning industry. So what’s to be done about it?
Resources not Courses
Nick Shackleton-Jones goes a great job here of explaining what needs to be different in elearning. If you ask most people to find the answer to a question, like how to do I fix a broken pipe, how do I coach someone effectively, most people will go to Google or YouTube long before they’ll go to an elearning course. We use the web to search for the most relevant information. A lot of the time, the need isn’t (just) for a linear course. It’s for a set of resources that are easily found and helpful at the point of need.
As Harold Jarche put it: “Courses are like stock. They go out of date. Knowledge is more like flow.”
You can create the world’s best course on Blockchain and Bitcoin, but as soon as you’ve written it, it’s becoming obsolete. The rate of change and new information in these domains means we need to supplement courses with content that stays up to date. We all need to be continuous learners to stay on top of information. But courses have a full stop.
Does that mean the death of the course? Absolutely not. We still need structured learning experiences. We need to take people from A to B in terms of their knowledge. A well structured and clearly designed experience (in any format, not just elearning) is still the most effective way of doing that. The challenge and opportunity is to combine the structure of a course with the need to help people to continuously learn from the most recent and relevant content. So we have to take them beyond B to C: Curated, Continuous Content.
Best of Both Worlds: Courses With Curated Content
So what can we do? One option is to bring content curation into your design approach for courses. Content curation can be defined as
- Finding the best content from multiple sources, usually external content, relevant to your topic or audience
- Filtering it to find the most relevant for your audience
- Sharing it with the right internal audiences, at the right time, in the right places
- Adding value to that content with commentary, context or organisation
It’s about looking at external content and bringing it into your learning.
5 Ways to Add Curated External Content To your Digital Learning
Let’s say you’re developing a course on Time Management. Every day new tips and insights on time management are published on LinkedIn, Inc.com, Medium and a hundred other sites. Is that content relevant to your learners? Absolutely. So your job as a Learning Professional is to bring that outside content into your learning experiences. Here are 5 ways of doing this:
- Create a curated reading list of articles for your topic. Include in your elearning course.
Pro: You can hand select relevant articles and ensure they’re specific.
Con: it’s time consuming. You have to find the articles, and keep the list up to date by constantly maintaining the elearning.
- Include a list of sites to check for latest content within your courses
Pro: Less maintenance required, links less likely to break.
Con: It’s not very focused. You’re asking learners to do the filtering to find the relevant content. They don’t have time, most won’t go there.
- Embed a Feed of Relevant External Content in your Elearning
Pro: If you use a curation tool (like ours), you can easily surface content on a particular topic, filter it by sources and then embed it directly into your elearning modules. It’ll update automatically for you, so you help to keep your learners up to date with less effort.
Con: You’ll need to integrate it with your authoring tool or environment, which can requires a little technical effort. Fortunately we’ve been working with Elucidat, one of the leading digital learning tools providers to do just this. More on this below.
- Embed at the Platform / LMS level
If you’re supporting an audience or group within your organisation, it make make sense to embed a feed of curated, relevant content at the LMS or Learning Platform level, so it runs alongside your courses and other learning offerings.
Pro: This can help to bring your LMS to life by making it a home for recent external content.
Con: Some integration effort can be required if you’re using a curation tool, but an API and plugins can make this easier.
Example of Curated Content inside a Learning Platform:
5. Push curated content to your Learners
You could use curated content to push regular updates to learners. These could be in the form of internal mails, newsletters, or distributed through social channels like Slack or Yammer.
Pro: Immediate, in channels where people hang out, don’t require a revisit of the course
Con: More effort to regularly prepare, need to think about ongoing resources
Whatever methods you use, think about the role of external content in helping to keep your learning alive. 3 million blog posts are published every day. If you’re a Learning Professional, you need to be thinking about how to bring the most relevant ones to your learners’ attention to help them stay up to date. That means adding content curation to your skillset, and thinking about how it plays with your toolset.
Curated Content inside your Elearning – See How to Do it in our Webinar!
Come and Join us at our Webinar on July 6th at 3pm UK to see how we’ve collaborated with Elucidat to bring external content into a live course. We’ll show you
- 5 easy ways to give your digital learning a heartbeat
- Why continuous, personalised learning delivers more ROI than RIP
- How to easily find and curate recent and relevant content to enhance your elearning
- A live example, built in Elucidat and integrating curated content from Anders Pink