Curation and the Future of LXPs

Curation and the Future of LXPs

When I tell people I’m a curator, sometimes I get this puzzled look followed up by the question: ‘So you create content for websites?’ That’s a very understandable answer because yes, Content Curation and Creation share some features and stages in their process. However, curation has distinct outcomes and purposes that stem from emerging needs as the world of LXP and LMS keeps growing.

What’s the difference between Curation and Creation?

Creation, as its name suggests, refers to the formation of brand-new content from scratch. Curation, on the other hand, is the selection of pre-existing content for a specific purpose. In other words, an article is to creation as a magazine is to curation.

Why is curation important?

Curation has turned into a growing need as more information becomes available online. While anyone can type a question or keyword in a browser to get more information about it, curation services give users the confidence that the content they are viewing is reliable and relevant to their learning needs.

Moreover, curation can save companies money and time. When you hire curatorial services, you leave the selection and presentation of information for your learners in the hands of an expert. Curators know learning is not a one-size-fits-all process. So, in their research they take different elements into consideration, including the target audience, content display, accessibility, among other features. In that sense, you can rest assured that despite curating content similar topics, no output will be the same. The content will be the best for your learners’ background and time needs.

As a curator my favourite part of the process is the selection and arrangement of content. I am a very curious person, so the idea of getting to do research on new topics and using different learning platforms to display the information is one of the things I enjoy the most about being a curator. This part becomes especially satisfying when you show the final product to the client and see their eyes lighting up when they see their idea come to life.

The main challenges in the industry

Curation comes with a few challenges given the way information is presented in different platforms. The first issue that comes to mind is what I call “binge subscription”: the fact that some companies buy subscriptions to so many platforms without making the most of them. So, they end up with so much content, articles, courses, videos, and so on it is difficult for them to manage it or make the most of it. It would be like buying thousands of libraries with multiple subjects for a medical university, without checking first whether the books in that library will be useful for your students or if the books will just collect dust in the shelves and the university waste funds that could’ve gone to other areas within the institution.

The second challenge I have noticed is believing that automation will solve everything for you. Even though now we can rely on platforms and software to make it so much easier to find quality content for LMS and LXP, there’s still a need for the “human filter.” The way I see it is that automated curation narrows our research material, which is an enormous advantage with the loads of information (and misinformation) out there. However, to think that the research is over would be an error.

Let’s say client X asks for a learning output about leadership for team managers, whereas client Y asks for the same, except that the target audience is the marketing team within a company. If you were to just type the word “leadership” on a curation platform and think the AI will do all the work for you, you might end up with a bigger challenge. You will probably have the same output for two clients with different needs, despite them asking for similar products. Then you will have to go back to the output again and again. Now, I am not saying people should avoid curation platforms. On the contrary, we should use them in our favour and learn how to make the most of them. The idea is to make your work easier, not ‘mindless.’

Finally, since LXPs are relatively new, one of the biggest challenges we’re seeing in the industry is the need for maintenance. LXPs are growing as well as their catalogue. But adding new materials to the catalogue is not a matter of uploading audio-visual material and metadata and forgetting about it. It is necessary to go back and make sure the sources are updated, that links still work, that material is not repeated, among other things.

Selecting resources as a curator

There are three main factors that make me choose some resources over others: quality, accessibility, and purpose. When I say quality, I mean content and media that comes from reliable sources and experts, that is updated, based on facts and is not biased (for instance, by promoting a political ideology or religion over another, encouraging hate discourses, etc.)

Now, accessibility refers to factors as simple as clicking on a link and being able to read/watch/interact with the content without having issues such as restricted access, design issues, inability to access through certain devices, poor use of headers, among others. In general, accessibility is what makes learning in an online platform comfortable. Learning something new should always involve some degree of challenge. Nonetheless, the challenges should never come from the learning medium.

Finally, there is purpose, or in other words, your output’s learning objective. You can have two excellent quality and accessible videos about the same topic. However, I will pick video A over video B if the former fulfils the purpose of the output I’m curating.

Still, it’s worth saying that none of these three factors is more important than the other. We can have a similar scenario, with two quality videos that are useful for the output. However, one will be chosen over the other if the user can’t access the first one through their phone.

The future of curation at Jam Pan

Jam Pan has been working with freelance curators from the very beginning. This familiarity regarding what clients want for LXPs has taken us into expanding our business to offer curation as a service, with the enthusiasm and expertise our Jam Pan team is known for.

We are aware of how relevant curation is for learning platforms and businesses. Years of experience in this area has taken us to gather some of the top tips every curator has to follow to produce quality outputs for clients and businesses.

  1. Be curious. I believe that to provide quality work, a curator has to be curious and try to understand the content they are curating. A curious mind will prompt you to find out what lies beyond your topic. Then, you will be able to select and structure the content in the best way possible, as well as enrich it if necessary. Being curious also means not taking all the information for granted. It means being open to making mistakes, having this “what if” mindset that sometimes sparks ideas you would have never imagined.
  2. Be empathetic. To be able to curate multiple projects, you must be able to put yourself in your clients’ and your audience’s shoes and know that two projects dealing with similar topics will not be the same. In this sense, the curator does not think of the user as a passive agent who will only receive the information but as a human being with questions, aspirations, needs, and the ability to come up with ideas and react to the data they receive. The same goes for the clients. They have an idea in mind, and they trust you will help make this idea come true.
  3. See curation in your everyday life. When you start noticing that we all do some degree of curation in our everyday life, it gets easier to approach your work for LXPs and LMSs. Then, you can find new ideas while doing everyday tasks like choosing the meals for the week, making a workout playlist, picking Christmas gifts and so on. The more you see curation in your daily activities, the more you’ll realise there is a curator in all of us and how necessary is curation

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