Create or curate? Pros and cons of learning content curation

By Carole Bower May 28, 2015

Following our recent post Six Key Skills of Learning Curation I thought I would contribute a further thought to this topic. It concerns a decision learning and development professionals often face, namely: when is it better to create your own learning content from scratch – and when might you be better advised to lean on curation?

As a way of giving a bit of focus to this decision, let’s look at the pros and cons of learning content curation. Here’s a table that summarises the main considerations.

Table showing pros and cons of learning curation

Pros of learning content curation

One of the key benefits of content curation very much taps into how we have changed as learners and information seekers. We are well used to finding our own content and many learners have a preference to casual and informal learning.

Curation can provide trusted content; it’s a learner-centric approach – and it is easy for L&D to organise and make changes to. It is agile and responds to the speed of change, allowing an L&D Department to get content out to learners really quickly.

According to the 2014 Towards Maturity Benchmark study, Modernising Learning, Delivering Results, which provides insights from 600 L&D global L&D leaders:

  • 91 of respondents were looking to provide a faster response to changing business conditions
  • 87% needed to push updated information to employees at the point of need
  • 96% needed to increase access and flexibility in providing staff training

The provision of curated content from lends itself well to all of these drivers.

One of the key advantages for learning designers is that curation gives us the opportunity to tackle the issue we talked about in our previous post; how to create content when the subject matter expert has little time to support the process. A curated option can offer the opportunity to provide access to experts for example by providing a platform where learners can view their collective expertise.

Drawbacks of learning curation

Naturally of course there are also some disadvantages of using curated content. A lack of curation skills can make putting together such a solution difficult. There are translations issues, and copyright considerations. There is no tracking available, which can have an impact when compliance is needed. It can also be hard to maintain control over learning effectiveness, learner relevance and quality.

With masses of new content on the web every minute, content curation is an endless job. With the likes of Facebook producing 2.5 million shares of content a minute there’s ever such a lot to get through – it’s a skilled role and to be done well requires experience.

The role of content curator is very similar to that of the learning designer though. For a learning designer the process of collating and filtering a mass of content, establishing the relevant elements that will meet learning outcomes and presenting this to the learner in a usable and useful way is all part of the day job.

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