Instructional design is at the heart of what we do at IdeaLearning Group, and the role is constantly growing and evolving. Gone are the days when instructional design simply meant writing some learning objectives and then putting a course together. We’re most excited about the content curation possibilities for elearning design.
As Connie Malamed described in her “Learning Technology Trends to Watch in 2012” blog post, “Instructional designers are often the proponents of innovation and the persuaders who convince upper management that interaction and collaboration will make for a smarter organization.” As learning and sharing become more social, curating content is an absolute necessity for instructional designers.
So what exactly does “content curation” mean in a learning context? It involves finding, organizing, and filtering content to optimize learning opportunities. In the not-too-distant past, when people needed to research something, they had to visit the actual library. Now close your eyes and think about something you’d like to research. Does an image of a paper-based card catalog pop in your mind? Be honest: it’s a Google search box that you see.
The problem is that as we wade through the rising waters of the digital era, we feel swept up in a tidal wave of information. We have access to incomprehensible amounts of data, all in an instant. Shanghai Web Design created this mind-blowing graphic that attempts to describe what can happen within a single minute online. 510,000 comments are made on Facebook. 25 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube. And 168 million emails are sent, all within 60 seconds!
IDs have always focused on creating the ideal context for learning. We organize and make sense out of complex information, carving out the essentials while whittling away the unnecessary details. But the difference today is incredible accessibility of information and the potential for easy overload. We see it as a quest: Instructional designers must step up as digital cartographers and help carve out the path to clarity!
Here are some strategies we use for content curation in our learning programs:
Bundle digital resources: While we may have abandoned the card catalog system, we still love the “learning library” metaphor. Learning libraries should be stocked with essential information that’s relevant to the learner. They should be easily searched, sorted, and offer the ability to download and print content on demand. (This concept even goes beyond formal online learning. Anyone can be an online content curator—see ScoopIt and Flipboard for amazing examples!)
Build custom paths of discovery: Off-the-shelf learning solutions are quickly becoming yesterday’s news. By offering a self-paced flow, custom content, and a highly interactive environment, the experience of learning is more engaging and relevant for the learner’s specific needs. We discussed this in more depth on our recent post about adaptive learning.
Invite sharing and collaboration: Knock down the traditional barriers! As people are becoming more social online, look for creative ways to allow learners to share their insights in (or even outside) a learning environment. Tie in blog posts and invite comments. Compile topical information and publish it as an online “magazine.” Ask learners to upload their own case studies or other content. Start a twitter hashtag for your topic.
The potential for content curation in instructional design is exploding. What strategies have your learned or used?