A solid learning content strategy is essential for any organisation looking to turn the tide on content chaos. In our complete Learning Content Strategy Playbook, we've identified four main elements: Prioritise needs, Apply content intelligence, Reach people and Evaluate and iterate.
Curation falls under apply content intelligence and is an indispensable pillar of the L&D content strategy playbook. We've put together this bumper guide so L&D professionals have a place to start and build a content curation strategy that will truly make an impact for their learners.
Here are some quick links so you can jump to the good stuff 👇:
- Why curate learning content at all?
- What are learning pathways?
- What do you need for curating pathways?
- What makes a great pathway
- How do I curate a learning pathway?
- When to use learning pathways
- Distribute your pathways
WHY CURATE LEARNING CONTENT AT ALL?
Why curate learning content at all?
Taking control of content chaos
The choice of learning content before the average employee is staggering and can lead to counterproductive choice exhaustion. A designed pathway reliably built with high-quality resources and expertise can provide much-needed direction and can save your people from wasting time finding the right content.
Furthermore, we’ve found that it’s not just enough to gather a list of resources by theme. In our research, we've found that “in 92% of cases, reviewers preferred the structured pathways over the simply-relevant content.”
Reducing time to proficiency
Learning paths have been shown to reduce time to proficiency by 30-50%. If this is your desired outcome, your learning pathway should facilitate this by offering the tools and resources which allow the user to level up their skills.
“Proficiency is truly defined for the job role by the metrics used to measure success in that job role. We can discover the definition of proficiency by asking a manager of the job role “How do you know a proficient employee from a non-proficient employee?” - Alvarado
At the risk of opening yet another can of worms, it’s not always easy to define proficiency for a job, task or skill. For example, as important a power skill as active listening is, it can be difficult to robustly measure a person’s proficiency.
Employee retention and internal mobility
Learning pathways can help with internal mobility and talent acquisition. If you know what skills are needed for a job, you can better identify those skills in job candidates.
In today's competitive job market, it's essential for organisations to attract and retain top talent. Creating learning pathways can demonstrate a commitment to employee development, making it easier to attract new hires. In fact, as research from the Josh Bersin company shows:
“...employees who spend time at work learning are 47% less likely to be stressed, 39% more likely to feel productive and successful, 23% more ready to take on additional responsibilities, and 21% more likely to feel confident and happy. And the more you learn, the happier you become.”
The correlation between learning and retention is quite astonishing - businesses that encourage employees to learn have up to 50% higher engagement and retention rates.
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What are learning pathways?
There are two definitions that best align with modern learning and development needs.
- “the chosen route… taken by a learner through a range of (commonly) e-learning activities, which allows them to build knowledge progressively” - Wikipedia
- “the ideal sequence of learning activities that drives employees to reach proficiency in their job in the shortest possible time” - Williams & Rosenbaum 2004
In short, it is a curated collection of learning assets for the express purpose of learning a particular skill.
WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR CURATING PATHWAYS?
What do you need for curating pathways?
Prioritising pathways to build
The starting point should always be to determine the business’ priorities and to audit the current state of:
- business priorities
- skills gaps
- trending and future skills
- data signals like learning platform search queries or employee surveys
It’s also important to remember that the learners on the other side are complex human beings with diverse concerns outside of a set of business objectives.
Build with learners in mind
Naturally, one of the first considerations is who are the pathways being built for. A balance needs to be struck between the business’ and learners’ objectives.
Asking the right questions from the outset about the purpose of the pathways will be vital:
- Do you want to advance your career?
- Do you intend on starting a new career?
- Do you want to learn for personal enrichment?
Curating with the right content
It’s impossible to build without the right tools and resources. Whatever the pool of content you intend to build from, ensure that you’ve ticked off all of the below considerations:
- Is this content suitable?
- Is it visually appealing? (and enjoyable and succinct (good value per word)?
- Is what we are curating novel, and/or authoritative, and/or persuasive?
- Have you considered the structure and the publish date?
You can also put the learning content at your disposal through further rigour with these considerations for quality content curation:
- Business-useful (applicable in real business)
- Visually appealing, persuasive, enjoyable, succinct (good value per word)
- Independent: no in-content agenda (eg selling a product)
- Serviceable: available, mobile-friendly, easy to navigate, not full of clickbait/ads
- Diverse: a good mix of length and format-type
- Approved by subject matter experts
Note: It should also be noted that your content should be easily accessible and searchable, to begin with.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT PATHWAY
What makes a great pathway
Building a learning pathway is not just about chucking together a few interesting learning resources you have come across. It needs to be purpose-built to engage the user and take them on a learning journey.
A catchy title and description
Get creative with the title and description. The title is there to give an overview of the learning pathway, but you can still do this and add a little colour. Use the description to inform the audience of the learning outcomes, so they are clear on what they should achieve by the end of the pathway.
Mix of formats
Be sure to include a good mix of formats to keep the audience engaged. Certain formats can be more effective for specific sections of your pathway, like a video to introduce the topic or a course to test their knowledge.
Help the audience understand how this learning resource is relevant to them, either in their current or future role. You can do so by including a brief comment to explain the reason for including this resource.
Opportunities to deep dive
If your learning pathway has engaged your audience, it might leave them wanting to know more. Include a learning resource which allows them to continue the learning journey outside of the pathway you have curated. This might be in the form of a book recommendation or a website with additional content.
HOW DO I CURATE A LEARNING PATHWAY?
How do I curate a learning pathway?
Create a compelling title & description
The best playlists capture their audience. Ensure the title is enticing, with a succinct but accurate description which addresses your target audience and articulates the playlist’s purpose.
A bad example
“Learn essential leadership skills the ACME way over 45 mins.”
A good example
“Great leaders come in all shapes and sizes”
“An introduction to the core leadership skills we want ACME leaders to have within 2-3 years of first becoming leaders. This reinforces our core values of empathy, leading with vision and attentive listening. It is best paired with ACME’s Leadership Intensive course and should take approx 45 mins.”
Structure your playlist (Why-What-How)
- An introductory piece of content which conveys the core concepts in a concise way to help draw the audience in and which can be consumed by all.
- Explanation of why this is important and what the learner will be able to understand or do differently by the end of it (ideally, referring in some basic way to proficiency). If it can relate to your industry, so much the better.
- Short; typically less than 10 minutes.
- A factual description of what the concept is, typically with definitions to help form a base and consistent level of understanding of the core concept. More of the detail of what the topic is.
- Short- to mid-length, typically up to 20 mins.
Methodology / Application (How)
- To help someone understand what steps they need to take: the how, when, and who of the core concept
- Ideally internally created (i.e. your organisation’s own take on how to apply), easily applicable. If it’s not an internal source, then use a well-referenced and well-regarded source.
- Mid-length, typically 15-60 mins but can vary.
Go deeper (More)
- Deep dives via longer-form content, adjacencies, the material of a higher difficulty level, reading an entire book on the topic, completing online courses or immersive from a MOOC or reading a relevant academic paper.
- Varying lengths depending on the overall blend.
Optional item(s) - pick at least one from the below.
These can consist of any number of the following (typically up to two) in order to create a well-balanced and enticing pathway:
- Self-assessment: Quizzes to further reinforce the content, e.g. this time management quiz
- Job aids: What would be useful to have with you on a day-to-day basis?
- Contrarian views: A controversial or alternative take on the subject matter of the pathway.
- Industry context: How the skill/topic relates to the industry.
- Mentorship/coaching: Would a mentor or a coach be more helpful? Who do you know that could do this? Find out how to go about getting a mentor or coach via your employer.
- Social media accounts: Reputable, insightful people or organisations to follow on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram who post relevant information, etc. Think Sparktoro…
- Exercises: Journal about this topic, talk to someone who might know more about it than you, summarise the pathway in 100 words, or find some people at your organisation who share the interest.
- Opportunities to apply: What tasks or projects could benefit from applying this skill?
- Creating: Writing a blog on the topic.
Example of a curated learning pathway
Project Management Power: Make Things Happen
- Project Management: 01. What is a Project? (Go1; Course; 5 minutes)
- Practical Project Management (getAbstract; Book; 15 minutes)
- How to Create the Perfect Project Plan (getAbstract; Article; 5 minutes)
- Using Risk Management in Your Projects (getAbstract; Article; 5 minutes)
- Create a Project Management Tracker using Microsoft Excel (Coursera; Course; 24 minutes)
- Advanced Project Management (getAbstract; Book; 15 minutes)
- Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers (Blinkist; Book; 12 minutes)
- Modern Project Management (getAbstract; Book; 15 minutes)
WHEN TO USE LEARNING PATHWAYS
When to use learning pathways
Filling a skills gap
When there is a mismatch between the skills that employees have and the skills that the organisation needs, curating learning pathways can help employees develop the skills that they need to fill the skills gap.
Introducing new technologies
Curating learning pathways can help employees learn how to use new technologies quickly and effectively.
When the organisation is undergoing a change
During a change such as a merger or acquisition, it's crucial to prepare employees for the transition. Learning pathways can help employees understand the change and how it will affect them.
Promoting a culture of continuous learning
Curating learning pathways can make learning easier, more effective, and more engaging. In turn, curated learning pathways can help employees to develop the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in their roles and to help the organisation achieve its goals.
Distribute your pathways
With the diverse concerns of the average employee, both professional and personal, it would be unrealistic to expect that just building learning pathways is enough to promote effective learning.
The distribution of pathways should be as much a part of your initiative as the curation itself.
Find ways to embed learning pathways into the flow of work - whether through automated or scheduled emails, dropping a pathway into a Yammer community or your Teams / Slack channel.
We've helped customers like NatWest and Snow Software reduce curation time from weeks to hours.
Contact us today to learn more about how Filtered can help you curate high-quality learning pathways at scale. Schedule a demo today >