This year, make sure content curation tools are on your wishlist, by Sam Burrough

Learning and Development teams are starting to realise they must evolve to support informal and collaborative learning. But new approaches bring new obstacles to overcome – infrastructure, security, cost, ignorance, apathy and lack of relevant skills for starters. Online curation tools offer a simple, but powerful way to overcome these barriers and start supporting informal learning.

So, this year make everyone in your organisation happy and tell them what you can do with curation. Here are some of the benefits (and some ways you can sell the idea):

Your sales teams are probably out on the road a lot, combine that with a target driven culture and it’s hard to find time to learn. Curation platforms give you a low, or no, cost mobile learning tool. No new software, no new hardware. Access learning content from any internet ready device, no problem.

How about a lower risk way to use social media? There’s no uploading or downloading involved. So the risk of data loss or malware is lower than other channels. The content is already out there on the web, curation just organises it better and helps makes sense of it. Why not start a topic that solves common IT problems? Better yet, show your IT helpdesk how they can curate YouTube* videos and articles to help people solve these problems themselves.

(*YouTube may be blocked where you work, but people can still access it from their personal devices. Maybe your IT team could grab the videos and host them behind the firewall – license permitting!)

Employer branding is more important than ever if you want to attract the best candidates. Most curation tools are open, so anyone can see what you’re doing. When potential employees are researching your company they’ll see your curation site, you could even link to it from your company website. This marks you out as a forward thinking organisation with a strong learning culture and it helps your brand (don’t forget to mention that to Marketing).

Surprisingly a lot of marketing professionals still haven’t got to grips with this trend. Lead the way and show them how it can support your brand. Many curation tools let you brand your topics and include powerful analytics tools. Marketing people love that stuff!

Internal Comms
All too often they struggle to translate your strategy into messages that everyone can understand and engage with. Help them curate content that gives context and credibility to these communications e.g. an article from Harvard Business Review that links to your strategy or business. Some tools let you integrate your curated content with your intranet. This can liven up a dull corporate site and it’s a great way to get your people on to the curation site itself.

Learning Geeks
Ok, not strictly a department, but dotted around your company you have people who love learning. You may not know who they are, or where they are, but find them because they can help you. Recruit them and convince them to start sharing what they’re learning and discovering using your curation tool. They get recognition, you get someone to help find the content. Make sure you help them understand the difference between curation and aggregation.

The Board
Change is the only constant. If you want to survive in business today you have to adapt quickly, quicker than you can schedule or write a course. We need to promote learning agility, to encourage people to think and learn for themselves. Many people will do this without you. However, many won’t. Many people still think the internet and social media aren’t relevant to what they do at work (no really they do!).

Curation is scaffolding that can help bring these people up to speed. It’s credible too because you can share content from sources they’ve heard of like HBR, Forbes or the BBC.

So where do you get this year’s must have present? And how do you learn to use it effectively?

At the last count there were over 250 tools that classed themselves as online curation. That’s quite a lot, so here are four popular options to explore further. – Great for focussing on specific topics, and for marketing, the pro account includes powerful analysis tools
Pearltrees – promotes exploration and feeds curiosity
Learn Fizz – Free site focused on learning
Curatr – Adds powerful game mechanics to the curation idea, can be deployed behind the firewall for the security conscious

Given the subject of this tip and what with it being Christmas and all, I thought I ought to curate you some content on content curation.


Sam Burrough Sam Burrough is an Online Learning Consultant working in the Financial Services sector. He’s also co-founder of weeLearning a free monthly MicroConference, for anyone interested in learning and technology, that takes place in Bristol and Bath.

Picture Credit: verbeeldingskr8

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