What is Content Curation for learning?

25 August

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What is Content Curation for learning?

Content Curation in digital design is the “gathering of all the information relevant to a particular topic, subject or audience and presenting it in a way that allows the learner to quickly and easily find what they want”. (Neelakandan, 2019)

However, curation isn’t just trawling the web for content and putting it all together in one place, aggregating content can be useful, but curating takes things to the next level.

If you think of curation in the context of a museum, when you visit a museum exhibition you don’t just view a random selection of objects from a certain era placed in a room, curation involves a careful selection and display of these objects in a way that provides a context for the viewer, and gives them the opportunity to engage, experience and respond.

Curation elevates the learning experience because it encourages the viewer to engage with the content, ask questions, and come up with their own ideas.

This is how good curation can add value to a museum exhibition, in a similar way good content curation can add value to eLearning.

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Why is curation important in eLearning?

We live in the information age, with the world at our fingertips. It is easier than ever to find and research information. But the disadvantage of this is information overload.

We can access a breadth of knowledge, but how do we acquire depth of expertise, and develop our own critical thinking?

With so much information, how can we sort reliable and trusted sources from fake news and biased content?

Content curation has many benefits for learners:

1. Time-saving.

Curation saves time for learners because it selects the best and most relevant content on their chosen topics thereby reducing the amount of time needed to be spent on research.

2. Helps increase the depth of knowledge in a subject area.

Good content curation can help learners can get deeper into a subject area  in less time than if they had to review all the source information themselves. It can also juxtapose different discussion angles to show the material in a new light, jump-start discussions and help learners form their own distinct opinions and theories. 

3. Content curation and microlearning.

A winning combination for eLearning can be content curation combined with microlearning. According to a survey done by Deloitte the average employee has only 24 minutes a week for training. (Surge9, 2019)

Curated content presented in bite-sized chunks can be a powerful way to achieve learning outcomes in short blocks of time.

4. Accessibility

Content curation has positive implications for accessibility because it can provide options to the learner to choose which format is most appealing to their learning style, such as reading, audio, video, interactive, etc. Providing a choice of formats gives learners more control over their learning.

How learning the art of curation can be a powerful learning tool

Curation has a twofold benefit for learning. Curated content can help learners get a deeper knowledge of a topic in less time, but learning is not just the consumption of content, it is a process, and by becoming better ‘curators” learners can also enhance their own personal development.

Learning is not remembering knowledge. Learning is a behaviour change. The process of practising, getting feedback, and reflecting is key to learning. To build lasting behaviour change you need to do more than provide access to blog posts and other resources. Of course, content, good content, is important, it will provide information but it won’t transform the way someone works. (Sprout Labs, 2022)

Curators ask thoughtful questions and find resources that are accurate and interesting. As we curate information, we start to organise ideas into categories, or themes making connections and coming up with fresh ideas to share.

Harold Jarche came up with a content curation framework Sense, Seek, Share 

  • Seeking is finding things out and keeping up to date. Building a network of colleagues is helpful in this regard. It not only allows us to “pull” information, but also have it “pushed” to us by trusted sources. Good curators are valued members of knowledge networks.

  • Sensing is how we personalize information and use it. Sensing includes reflection and putting into practice what we have learned. Often it requires experimentation, as we learn best by doing.

  • Sharing includes exchanging resources, ideas, and experiences with our networks as well as collaborating with our colleagues.

The multiple pieces of information that we capture and share can increase the frequency of serendipitous connections, especially across organizations and disciplines where real innovation happens.  (Jarche, 2014)

Learners should be curious and questioning, the benefit of curation is that it presents a carefully selected number of sources, but this can also be a downside, as it might miss key topic areas or show bias. By developing their own curation skills learners improve their critical thinking skills and become adept at evaluating content and searching for different viewpoints.

Curation for learning works best when users” sense, seek and share”. Part of this process is gaining knowledge, a ‘sense’ of a topic from curated content and then developing their own curating skills by combining this with their own research, and going on to share critical ideas with their learning community. 

What is exciting about content curation is moving away from focussing on content and thinking about the process. Curation then becomes a continual process of finding, processing, and sharing ideas and it is within this process that deeper learning and understanding take place.

Types of Content Curation

 There are three main ways the curation process takes place: 

  1. Professional Curation – Learning Professionals curate content for courses.

  2. Student/Learner Curation- Learners research and curate their own source material.

  3. Artificial Intelligence- AI is increasing providing useful tools for curation

AI tools are useful in selecting and aggregating content across the web and presenting it in visually appealing formats, they also offer ease of use and ways to keep all your research materials in one place and have benefits for easily sharing and collaborating with others.

Some useful AI curations tools are: 

  • elink


  • Flipboard

  • Listly


  • Feedly

  • Pocket

  • Triberr

  • Scoop it

  • ContentGems

  • DrumUp

You can read more about each of them here:

How curation can build a learning experience

Oliver and Harrington discovered a lot of what was being produced for learning content was a resource, it wasn’t a learning experience. To be a learning experience there must be tasks for people to do and supports to help them do the tasks. (Sprout Labs, 2022)

Content curation is important for learning for two reasons, if learning professionals can utilise the wealth of content that already exists, they can focus more on designing better learning processes.

If learners can engage with relevant content that encourages them to build their own curation skills and share their ideas then the learning moves from simplistic content consumption to a learning experience that can start to build a culture of learning and community within an organisation.

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