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Integrating content curation in your learning solutions

Podcasts and Audio | 24.05.2017

Kineo is back to de-mystify one of the hottest but often misunderstood topics in digital learning - content curation. Join us as we discover what skills are required in an L&D team and how best to integrate content curation in your learning solutions.

Paul Westlake  0:00  

Welcome to Kineo stream of thought. I'm Paul Westlake solutions consultant at Kineo. And today we're talking about content curation. I'm pleased to say I'm joined by

James Cory-Wright  0:16  

James Cory-Wright head of learning design,

Mark Harrison  0:18  

Mark Harrison, Senior Consultant,

Liz Smith  0:21  

Liz Smith lead solutions designer.

Paul Westlake  0:23  

So James, maybe you can kick us off, what do we mean by content curation,

James Cory-Wright  0:26  

it's gathering together content that already exists, but putting it through a kind of intellectual filter, so that basically that content is appropriate for those who need it.

Mark Harrison  0:36  

Which means in many cases that you need to understand all the principles that used to have to Anyway, when you're putting together a learning program needs analysis, what the learners are, what kind of learning experience it should be, you could argue it's just an extension of, of the learning that we're doing but adding another level, whereby you're grabbing stuff that's easily available and appropriate, and then locking it in there in lies the problem, obviously, about content creation is if you don't get it right, it just feels like a loose assembly of lots and lots of bits and bobs, with too much emphasis on the learner having to differentiate between things.

Liz Smith  1:16  

Yeah, sorry, to my mind, when I think of it, I almost think there's gonna be a ton of Wikipedia articles that I've added to my learning experiences. And I've got to pick and choose which ones are most appropriate for my role.

Mark Harrison  1:28  

And for some learners, that's fine. So we we move to the idea that take 10% of learners 20% of learners who like browsing, exploring, this is ideal for them. But the people who want to have a structured learning experience, if you layer in more articles, to read more videos in the path that you were previously designed as a nice, simple path for them to learn, then you'll likely to slow them down, intimidate them, and maybe turn them off the whole thing.

James Cory-Wright  1:54  

I think, also a large part of curation is about identifying the stuff that you don't offer, the stuff that you don't deliver. So if you curate an exhibition in the museum or something, there's a huge amount of exhibits that aren't ever seen. And so it's about deciding, you know, what's good. So you could say it's the 8020,

Paul Westlake  2:15  

who makes that decision?

Liz Smith  2:16  

Surely, if you think about it, like an exhibition where you're curating content, and there's normally some kind of reason why they will leave things out. So they'll be looking at things in a chronological order, or they'll be looking at things in a, you know, different themes, maybe and having different rooms for different themes, and the things that they leave out won't fit in with those. So how would we do that? From a learning point of view? Do you think?

James Cory-Wright  2:37  

Well, personally, I think you have to have, I think you have a curator, it's a team, I don't think we have one curator, I think it's a sort of two sided thing. So in terms of our business, I think you have a curator, who's in the organisation that needs the content to be curated. And I think that they have an opposite number in an organisation such as Kineo, who's kind of learning designer, and that they they work together, so that you have the sort of insider and the outsider, working together to constantly review and to analyse, look at the stats, and analyse the data, and review the content and throw away stuff that is basically becoming out of date, or as nobody ever bothers to go there and introduce fresh material.

Mark Harrison  3:27  

I totally agree with this idea of a team looking at it because I think they're totally different skills. I think the content curation path is absolutely fascinating. Because essentially, when you put in there a learning program, you have a learning path, a learning journey that you set out, you allow people to explore it. And so the competent learner can jump into places, but there's always a logical sequence that one should present. Otherwise, it's just Google. So you've got that kind of whole process of it's logically there. So the the curation curation idea has to be in my opinion about how much you feed those places as a little detors that you can go on and and come back in what you can't do, I think, in my opinion, is just choose 100 of the best objects, and then just say, look, these are 100 really good things, because no one is going to do that. That's not a path. That's not a journey.

James Cory-Wright  4:16  

And that's sort of and we've talked in a previous podcast about sort of digital and everything. And I think that there's very much you have to have that human dimension is part of curation. It's there is a suggestion that somehow that curation isn't an electronic thing that it just, you know, aggregation of content, and as the problem of aggregation and curation get confused, but curation, like as you're saying, Mark will always involve people. Judgments need to be made, and learners need to be considered. 

Mark Harrison  4:46  

Yeah, I totally agree. I the point I want I feel is important here is, is that someone could still take that argument and choose I've chosen these really good articles, there still could be 100 of them. So what I'm saying is you have to to take a step further, or you have to say, as I've, I've now gathered that great content, I am now going to assemble it like in a Great Exhibition in an order in a process, which is not just an assembly of pictures or things, there's a flow and a path. And that I think needs the skills of the learning designer, they've always been there that path. 

Liz Smith  5:20  

And I think it's appreciating that there's not just one path necessarily as well, like, the path might be different for different types of learners, people that respond to different types of information, or you know, different roles, different people within the organisation, I think you have to, you can see that there will be different paths. And in that case, it's almost about making kind of playlists for people. So you could make kind of a suggested playlist that people might like, but then you also allow people to build their own playlist. Yeah. So it's, it's again, thinking about how digitally savvy someone is and how inclined they are to learn. But maybe if you're an expert or a champion, you would be the person building up your playlist. And then a learner who was, you know, less experienced, might follow you as the first point of call, you know, they say, right, this is great expert, they work in my role, you know, I kind of aspire to be like them, I'm gonna follow through all the content that they've looked at. And that gives you a starting point, at least for choosing which is, which is the best part of you.

Paul Westlake  6:16  

It's really interesting listening to sort of the three of you chatting, because to me, the first thing that came to mind was James saying, there needs to be a bit of a human element in it. And and I first thing came to mind for me was when Apple bought Apple Music to the table, and everyone had been on Spotify forever. And Spotify was doing everything Apple Music didn't so what was different and one of the things that was totally different was they said, it's not all based around algorithms and what you like listening to, they pull that together, but then ultimately, the playlists to your point, are bought together by with a human touch going, actually, you like this? And you might like this, therefore, and I know that there is part of that where I, I think there is they need that human interaction to say, actually, you know, I have looked at this stuff. And just because, you know, two videos have got the same title doesn't necessarily mean there about the same topic, for example. And the other thing I would say with that about the human input and human touch that surely there's a huge amount of potential curators in the learners themselves. So what are they looking at? And is there a way for them to sort of feed in information and feed in things that they've almost curated themselves and then that become part of the journey,

Mark Harrison  7:21  

I think we have the tension, we have a classic tension between a traditional model where, where some learning experts spend a lot of time working out what people need, and putting together a program that fits those needs. And then we have the other tension, which is basically all about all about the learner, and all about a new generation of learner who creates playlists, right? I don't create playlists. I'm 50 years old. Yeah. So but anyone who's who's maybe 25 would instinctively do what Liz is talking about. So it is important that the people in l&d teams do recognise that and have in their teams, younger people who will say this is what they will do, because my instant reaction would be Oh, my God, are you saying that someone could actually now set up some profiles and variables? that aren't there people out there who just want to say these three things? I would personally from a curation system, say, give me one article to read this week. Just tell me I trust you. Yeah, this is the best thing that's coming out. Now. I've only got 15/20 minutes for me to put in filters and profiles and everything else to get two or three articles to choose from. That's too much.

Paul Westlake  8:27  

Yeah, you want to do that for you absolutely cut down a noise.

Liz Smith  8:30  

I think that issue of trust is crucial as well. So who do you trust to do that? Is that the l&d expert who knows you know, what the best learning content is that the person you know, your peers, someone that you sit next to who knows you do feel confident that you trust, it's that an expert in your field? So it's thinking about who are who are those people in those positions of trust that you're then going to say, yeah, I like you. I like your thinking, I'll follow what you say. 

James Cory-Wright  8:57  

Yeah, I think there's a bit of an intersection into social learning there. And, and youve you've sort of touched on it, a good point there that people and people that you trust, is that people can grade you know, things. Yeah, um, according to how much they trust the expert. And so you can get homegrown experts springing up who are essentially a curators,

Mark Harrison  9:19  

I think that's the really subtle thing we're talking about here, which again, I think there's a challenge to anyone who is responsible for ensuring that people in their organisation, meet the capabilities that they have to do the jobs, it boils down in the end to we got a whole bunch of people, they need to have these skills and these behaviors, how do we get there? I think the the excitement about a world in which peers are recommending what they're doing, is that is absolutely right to tap into and it's natural. However, it makes life way harder for someone to genuinely say, at the end of the day, what we've delivered here and what we've invested in is actually going to improve these skills and behaviors.

Paul Westlake  9:58  

can I can I just say and again, devil's advocate a little bit here and obviously coming from a background of working in a in a corporate l&d team for a long, long time. Back in the past, I can see that making people really nervous. So as an l&d professional, I'm now thinking, Okay, well, I'm not really creating courses as such. I'm putting together stuff that's already out there. I'm asking my learner's to help me with that. And for them to tell me where the content is, surely, but it gets to a point where I think I'm not actually quite sure what I'm doing anymore. So it's my role from a creator gone, and I've become a curator, and a different skills that are required for that in an l&d team.

Mark Harrison  10:35  

Yeah, and I and I think this is the crux of the 70 20 10 discussions that people have been embracing for several years. Now. The reality is that 70% is difficult to manage, it happens. There's a huge amount of trust that you have to have the people around you. And I think there are many organisations where people are fearful of letting that go and having the the mass knowledge of the people affecting what you're doing. I think, however, some of the curation tools out there that have an element where they bring in trusted curators out there in the marketplace, feeding into some of the tools, they will spin out useful stuff. But it goes back to this whole idea in the end is who is ultimately is assembling that final thing was put in front of people. Yeah.

Liz Smith  11:24  

And how is that created? as a learning experience? I think that's what I think of instead of how I could be consuming tons and tons of information. But how do I put that into practice? In my job? How do I know like the application of that knowledge and the application of those skills? And I think that's where the real learning element comes into it. And it's about testing some of those things. So creating challenges, games assessments that really tap into, right, have you managed to, from all the things that you've consumed? have you managed to draw out? What are the things that are the really important ones? And do you know how to put those into practice. 

Paul Westlake  11:58  

Identifying new objectives in the first place? How can we measure that? Okay, yeah,

James Cory-Wright  12:02  

And then increasingly helping to make sense of, of the world, if you like, because the world of information. And we've talked about this before, there's a difference between information and learning, you know, there is a big, big learning content. There, there is a big difference.

Mark Harrison  12:20  

To me, it boils down to that one, we everyone in the l&d community needs to be much cleverer about recognising the differences in information and learning and molding them together and comeing up with a complete solution. And curation is just one of those tools that can help you put together stuff, the actual tools themselves, but ultimately, the curator, if they're in the learning environments, I think Liz, you're absolutely right in saying that is to emphasise that is what you're presenting to people is still a learning environment. And it may be all the right things. But if in the end, it doesn't actually enable someone to work their way through that material. Because that's too much, maybe or whatever it is, then you're doing no favors to learn.

Paul Westlake  13:01  

Maybe that's a good exercise, then. So for an internal team would a good starting point to actually take stock and say what we actually got, what information we got? Because I mean, I think a lot of internal teams have a ton of information. And they've produced courses over the years. And, and it is rare for anyone to sort of stop and say, actually, we don't need that one anymore. Let's take it out. And we tend to find that stuff when maybe someone comes to us and wants, you know, a new learning management system. And that's almost the the driver to then say, Well, actually, let's stop and look at these 1500 courses we've got and see which ones are still relevant. I'm sure there's stuff in there that might be and that will help them maybe identify the gaps and then maybe fill that gaps by curating other content thats already there. 

James Cory-Wright  13:40  

As the curator as auditor, as well. And then I definitely agree with at the bottom of all this is the fact that there's so much stuff, there's never been so much stuff as there is now. And I did mention it at the beginning about it's as much about sort of taking away all the old stuff. So people can see the wood for the trees.

Liz Smith  14:00  

And I think it's about that time element that you mentioned at the beginning, James as well. So it's constantly changing. So it's not a case of right, we'll do an assessment. Now. We'll put up a curated course for people, you know, it's got loads of different parts of it. Brilliant. Oh, so we'll go back in two years and review that shall we, no, everything's changing information is constantly changing things constantly being updated, it doesn't mean that the key core skills that you need for that role are changing, you know, your management, your leadership skills, your specific task skills, they're going to be the same, but the different theories are changing, the information is changing. So it has to be an ongoing process. It's not a one stop shop. 

James Cory-Wright  14:36  


Mark Harrison  14:37  

And but I think there's if there's two tips, I would think for anyone who's doing this whole process is they've got to think about what those objects are going to be that they pull up. They were never designed for that learner in this situation. They are unlikely to fit perfectly. So you have to write stuff around it. So there used to be this idea of you reusable learning objects, and then there were other bits that weren't reusable, but they were the bits that added those things together. You have to write them, you have to put them together. But and here's the final piece in the jigsaw. Some of those objects might be pretty good, but not quite. So are you going to go in and change the PowerPoint that was written two years ago? Are you going to re edit that video, that was pretty good, but it's got the wrong branding. Ultimately, there's going to be a huge requirement, I think, to revisit some of the curated objects, because a lot of them aren't going to sit well,

James Cory-Wright  15:30  

which is and picks up on what Liz is saying, as well as it's very, very much about an ongoing thing. And I did sort of say about this, too. It's a two sided coin. You've got the internal person who's sort of on there on the ground and knows what's going on. And you've got the external agency, such as ourselves, we're the learning, learning designers, and our constant reviewing every single day and adapting and adjusting learning content.

Liz Smith  15:58  

So the role then of the l&d expert, as you say, Paul isn't, they aren't just gathering stuff together, it's about identifying those gaps, and then working out what content needs to be created to fill those gaps. And that's a really crucial role that that l&d expert would be taking.

Paul Westlake  16:20  

Well, thanks again for your time today. If you want to continue this conversation or pick up with us we're available on Twitter @Kineo or get in touch via our website at

Your speakers are

James has over 25 years' experience of instructional design and video scriptwriting. He previously headed up our team of learning designers and consultants, overseeing learning content design across all client projects.
Liz is a Lead Solutions Designer, working with our solutions consultants to create innovative designs for our proposal offerings. She has worked at Kineo for 11 years and has a background in creative writing.
One of Kineo's founders, and the Director responsible for our consultancy services, Mark also looks after our growing network of international offices. With 30 years of experience in the elearning design and development world, he often provides strategic and design consultancy and support to our customers across the globe.
Paul was previously a Solutions Consultant at Kineo.