Curation is about organizing, editing, and bringing order from chaos. How does this apply to online content for eLearning? As Learning Solutions Magazine columnist Marc Rosenberg says, “There’s a lot of stuff out there” on the web. Content curation aims to sift out the valuable content and present it to learners in a meaningful way. Put another way, curation is filtering out the information that you, your organization, or your learners need in order to accomplish a specific goal. Content curation can also mean, in the “museum curator” sense of the word, tending to a collection of content items to ensure that it stays relevant and current.

What any of that means specifically depends on your organization, your audience, and your goals.

The Internet, as NYU journalism professor and Internet communications expert Clay Shirky says, represents not an information overload so much as a filter failure. When the printing press was invented, publishers were responsible for filtering. If they published books that did not sell, they paid the cost. That cost has all but disappeared; anyone can publish information at virtually no cost. Therefore, the Internet has a vast amount of inaccurate, inappropriate (for your needs), irrelevant, or just plain bad content. It also has many gems of information; the trick is finding them among the mass of content.

How does curation apply to eLearning?

Focus on finding those gems.

The eLearning Guild’s program director, David Kelly, says that to be effective curators for their organizations, “learning and performance professionals need to discover where information is being shared in their organizations and tap into it.”

He adds, “Curation is less about the quantity of resources than the quality of resources.”

In an eLearning context, curation might include:

  • Connecting learners with existing educational and training resources, both within and outside the organization, and filtering out the irrelevant, inaccurate, or poor-quality resources
  • Facilitating resource sharing, where learning professionals and learners alike find resources and build reference “libraries”—which can be as simple as a communal web page—to share what they find with co-workers and fellow learners
  • Creating and sharing networks of employees who are interested in and learning about the same topics
  • Identifying trends—in topics discussed and information or training sought by members of an organization or workplace—and using that information to curate relevant learning opportunities and share pertinent resources
  • Combining elements of unrelated resources or content to create training or new content that is useful to learners in an organization
  • Adding value to content—not only selecting the most relevant resources, but also enriching them with comments, insights, suggestions, or even links to other content
Content curation can pay off in time saved and knowledge shared. Consider an example of an employee struggling to master a new tool. If all members of her department or project team are also learning that tool, the manager might simply assign them to complete an online training course and consider the task done. But as each employee begins using the tool, he or she will encounter roadblocks, have questions, and come up with new ways to use the tool or new shortcuts for tasks that all members of the team need to do. Curating that knowledge on a team discussion board or resource page would allow team members to answer one another’s questions, share tips, rule out inefficient or unhelpful articles and training, and share how they are using the tool for their project. It might also contribute to a stronger sense of being part of a team.