In my first two posts for Learning Circuits, I explored how I
as a professional development tool, and last week we looked
at Filtering: A Challenge and Responsibility for
Learning Professionals. This week we're going to
explore filtering further, and explain how learning
professionals will provide filtering services on an increasing
There are two primary ways that filtering will impact learning
professionals. The first impact is in helping workers understand
the need and techniques for filtering. For many, this
need to filter is something they may not have considered
before. However, in an age of ever-increasing data,
being able to focus on what's important and what isn't is a
It's also something that needs to be learned. Filtering
doesn't just apply to Twitter, it applies everywhere. In a world of
300 television channels, countless websites, and Reply-To-All
emails, being able to narrow your focus on what is valuable is
So the first impact of learning and performance professionals is to
assist workers with understanding and applying filtering
skills; the second impact is of greater importance, and
will become a core competency in the near future. That
competency is curation.
What is curation?
Consider the most common example of curation: the museum curator.
This person does not create content in the traditional sense. He or
she listens to what is going on, and finds topics that resonate
with museum guests. He or she scours the globe for
artifacts related to that topic, and organizes the artifacts in
such a way that guests are taken on a learning journey as they
experience the exhibit.
Of course, museum curators are highly trained and educated in doing
this. It is their specialty. How does curation fit into
the existing world of organizational learning and
A large percentage of learning and skill building is done
informally. Estimates show that upwards of 90% of
workplace learning takes place outside of formal programs. Most
actual learning takes place informally on-the-job, through
coaching, mentoring, experience, and other sharing. This learning
doesn't go through the training department, and it isn't tracked by
the organization's learning management system.
Capturing this type of learning has been a logistical
impossibility (or at least very difficult) in the past, as it was
taking place serendipitously, and without any sort of
documentation. Interactions like water-cooler
conversations, over-the-cubicle requests for assistance, and
on-the-job coaching provide the majority of performance support,
but usually happens in a vacuum, shared only between the
participants that are present.
In recent years, this social learning has expanded and exploded via
online social networks. Networks like Twitter, facebook, or
internal solutions like Yammer enable this social workplace
learning to break through the constraints of face-to-face meetings.
We can now share with counterparts across the globe almost as
easily as we do across the room. Better still, learning
that once was limited to those present in a face-to-face
interaction can now be shared with the world.
Learning and performance professionals need to discover where the
information is being shared in their organizations, and tap into
it. That networking resource is a gold mine for
learning curation. The sharing taking place could be identifying
new performance support needs, or it could be sharing new
This all might sound overwhelming, making you think that you don't
have the time to monitor every single learning experience that
happens within your organization. That's not the expectation. What
you're trying to do is identify the most common and valuable things
that people share. Curation is less about the quantity of
resources, and more about the quality of resources.
There are multiple layers to curation, each of which has benefits
when applied to learning and performance:
Aggregation: Gathering and sharing relevant
content. It releases the individual worker from needing to seek out
Filtering: Instead of simply aggregating
content, filtering shares only those resources that are most
relevant and valuable.
Elevation: Recognizing a larger trend in
the sea of seemingly less important content.
Mashups: Merging two or more unrelated
pieces of content to form a new message.
Timelines: Organizing random pieces of
content in chronological order to show the evolution of an
Thankfully, there are plenty of tools that can help us with these
tasks. However, there is still a human need in
curation; a role that is built on a foundation of
When I follow a curator I do so because I feel that work the
curator is doing is filtering on my behalf. I may not
feel the need to seek out content as much if there is someone that
is already providing pre-filtered content relevant to my
In the book
, Steven Rosenbaum describes it this way:
"Curation replaces noise with clarity. And it's the
clarity of your choosing; it's the things that people you trust
help you find."
That's the role learning and performance professionals are going to
be playing more and more in the future. With content
growing at an exponential rate, our need to create will slowly
diminish. In its place will be the growing need to
filter on behalf of workers; to curate the sea of content that is
available and being shared and bring the most relevant and valuable
to the forefront of worker attention.
In my final post of this series I will drill down deeper
into the process, exploring what technology can (and can't) do to
aid curation, and paint a picture of how I see curation fitting
into the future of learning and performance.
Thanks for reading - see you next week.David Kelly is the director of training at Carver
Federal Savings Bank and Member of the ASTD National Advisors for
Chapters. He is also the author of the blog Misadventures in Learning, where he
discusses the future of the learning field and curates the
backchannel of learning conferences.