Night at the Museum

July 25, 2018

I was working for a client and curating content for them from the internet to use as a resource for their learners. I love doing this work but in terms of efficiency I can’t claim to be making a profit. I will explain why this is the fault of the ‘hyperlink’ not my fault!

To do this properly you need to assess the material for suitability, you need to have criteria for selecting people for the materials. Don’t get fooled by thinking this is an easy, cheap or one off activity for your learners.

Think of curating for a museum. You may have a lot of ‘stuff’ but it doesn’t mean a visitor leaves your museum having had a positive experience. In fact quite the reverse, with too much to look at, with no discernible connection or symbiosis between the items the visitor leaves feeling bewildered, exhausted and frustrated. With most modern museums less is more, they leave space for thought, the footnotes are brief and there is a pathway which tells an evolving story as the visitor progresses through the well curated space.

We can learn a lot from how museums have changed over time. They know what works for their visitors and their visitors, like ours, are learners.

So what are the ‘musts’ for meaningful curation?

  • Know your audience, how do they learn? What do they need to know and what do they want to know?
  • What does your company want the learners to get out of your curated materials? It might be hard fact absorption, it could be to build a collective base line of understanding in the company or it could be developing a sense of curiosity in the learners for learning outside of their job role. Is it their objective to build a learning organisation?
  • Do you need to create a pathway of developmental levels? (a good idea) Be open minded to the learner who will access the highest level first to see if they can understand the topic at the advanced level before dipping into to the lower levels.
  • Add texture to the learning. Look for videos, blogs, articles, infographics, and LinkedIn communities. Research papers and free courses, published dissertations, book reviews and Ted Talks, home-made videos from your own SME’s. Vary the tone from the serious to the lighthearted and vary the length from the short hit from an infographic or a 15 hour Open University free course.
  • You might want to create ‘boxed sets’ of learning, perfect for the binge learner who will work through them in order looking for a plot twist in each article and enable them to create their own taxonomy from the learning you put in front of them.
  • At all times focus on quality, it is fine to have content which looks at topics from opposing standpoints but make sure it is correct; there is a lot of incorrect information on the internet so stick to reliable sources.
  • Nobody likes governance but if you are putting up information from the internet ask people not to click on advertisements, explain this is curation of ‘free materials’ and not to sign up for anything which costs money and set a rule about the purchase of books following a book review.

So what about the hyperlinks and my efficiency? I get so absorbed in the material itself and the thirst to know where things are referenced from, I follow every hyperlink there is. Walking through my own endless museum of facts, history, and futurism and without ever having to stand in line to view something is my idea of a happiness (possibly my MD might want to put a closing time on my museum.)

For help curating materials for any subject for your organisation contact me – it will be a pleasure to help you.

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