Best of the Blogs – Content Curation for Learning

Over the past 12 weeks I have been involved in a Working Out Loud circle, based on the work and book by John Stepper. One of the outcomes of the WOL circle has been my decision to share more. One of the ways I plan to do this is through my monthly “Best of the Blogs”. Here I will curate content from a range of posts, blogs, research articles and other sources. In this month’s pick the topic is how to use Content Curation in Learning.

So, what is content curation?

In the article “What is Content Curation? A Dummies’ Guide to the Hows, Whats and Whys” it is defined as “the process of aggregating data about a specific topic, distilling that information to identify the most important ideas, organising those ideas into a logical order, adding your unique spin to them, and then presenting the content to your adoring audience.” This definition is focused on content curation as a marketing tool, whereas the definition in this series of infographics  is more generic, with content curation defined as “the act of finding, grouping, organising or sharing the best and most relevant content on a specific issue”.  This definition fits better with the concept of content curation as a tool for training and development, where we are gathering and sharing information to educate and inform.

Content curation in learning

300 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube every minute. Almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every single day.  Every minute, Google receives over 4,000,000 search queries. With so much information available “getting information off the internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant” (Mitchell Kapor).


Getting information off the internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant

As learning designers, content developers, trainers or facilitators we need to ask ourselves:

  • Do we need to create any more learning content?
  • Can we expect our learners to make sense of all the information that is available to them?
  • How do we play a role in helping with the sense making?

The answer? Curate content from sources already available.

The benefits of curation

For me, the benefits of content curation means less development work. This results in a cheaper product for the customer and being faster to market, and greater expertise able to be used in the training. Some further benefits of curating digital content are expressed by Julia McCoy in her article “How Curation can empower content creation”. Aaron Orendorff also provides some details, including how curation can “position your organisation as thought leaders“.

Where do you start?

In her Linkedin post, Brenda Smith asks this same question and suggests the a great place to start is to “categorise content in to three different buckets to begin with”. In Barry Feldman’s article, “How to Curate Content Without Being Mindless and Mundane”, he provides some ways to curate like a champion, which includes quoting people in your posts. Guillaume Decugis Co-Founder & CEO of curation tool Scoopit provides a number of easy and simple ways to curate relevant content.


There are a number of the free and freemium tools that are available to help you get started. This article lists the top 50 content curation tools. If looking to curate content into a functional course you should look at the capabilities of Curatr. It is a social and collaborative learning platform that lets you use content from any source and organise it into bitesize playlists that learners can browse in any order.


Obviosuly there are pitfalls to avoid when curating content. Joyce Seitzinger describes some of the pitfalls of content curation, including developing the unfavourable traits of the hoarder, the scrooge, the tabloid or the robot. The legal and ethical considerations So, if we are curating content what are the legal considerations? How does this impact on copyright? Is it ethical to use another person’s work? Ben Betts provides one golden rule of content curation “Never copy content; Link to it”. He also talks about a “fair use policy”, which is echoed in Guillaume Decugi’s latest article “Does ethical content curation exist?” where he talks about the win-win-win of ethical content curation.

My final thoughts

Curating content is a great way to provide rich and engaging learning content to users, without the need for development. I have developed a number of courses using curated content with positive feedback from users. With the volume of content out there you need to develop the skills to be an effective content curator, and apply the crap test to the content that is available.


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Applying the CRAP Test to Content Curation

Content curation has been listed as a future skill needed for L&D people. But how do we curate? What should we use and what should we discard?

There is so much information available to us on the web. We have a struggle to manage the deluge of data. The volume of video data is enormous, with figures suggesting 72 hours of video is uploaded you YouTube every minute (many of it silly cat videos).

“By 2016, 1.2 million video minutes – the equivalent of 833 days (or over two years) – would travel the internet every second.“ – Cisco

But it is not only video data, but other online content that is being created at increasing rate (probably by people like myself writing blog articles).

“Five exabytes of information have been created between the dawn of civilization and 2003, but that much information is now created every two days, and the pace is increasing.“ – Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman Alphabet Inc (Google)

So what are the key factors to consider when curating content, to allow us to sort through the information to get to the quality? For me,  I have identified four key factors which form my CRAP Test. If these four factors are not present, the content doesn’t pass the test.

The four key factors are:

  • Currency
  • Relevancy
  • Accuracy
  • Presentation


The content needs to be current. There is little point in providing content to learners that is out of date. The time that content is current for will depend on the topic. Curating content on educational technology, considering the rapid rate of change, you would be wanting very recent content. Other topics, such as educational theories, may have older content that is still current.


The content needs to be relevant to the learning objectives. The learning objectives should be central in the design and development of any educational resource. Consider how relevant the content is to the context, to the topic, and the learning objectives. Consider how it will help learners achieve the desired skills and/or knowledge.


The content needs to be accurate and true. Just because you Google it or find it on the internet, doesn’t mean that it is true. One of my favourite internet quotes that proves this point is:


Review the information and see if it is supported by other evidence or other authors. Consider where the information has come from. Is it someone’s opinion on a blog or an article from an online journal? Consider the reputation of the author.


The content needs to be well presented. The way that the content is presented will impact on the engagement of learners, and their retention of the information. Printed content should be easy to scan and read. Videos should load quickly and containing quality sound and images. You should also consider accessibility issues with content presentation. For example, is there sufficient contrast between text and background colours? Is there a transcript available for audio or video content?

Applying the CRAP test to curated content gives you a short checklist of factors to consider. This will help make sure your content curation is of the best possible quality, and that your learners will be engaged when viewing it.