How Great Content Advances Learning Ecosystems

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An overused term ‘content is king’ becomes even more relevant when moving the content quality bar higher as you map out the learning ecosystem.  

Learners require quality experiences. They have high expectations. They want to learn how they interact and, if possible, within their comfort zone. Content tells a story, keeps the person interacting with that content, and takes them on a media-rich adventure. 

Learners now interact on social networks. No matter which platform, we devour new content. We even forgive content if it teaches information we already knew but with a different twist. We constantly search for nuggets of information. Content is best served in small portions. It can be a virtual group setting, people taking the same lessons at the same time but in diverse locations. We must gauge the quality of the information we learn. Is it backed by best practices and research or an opinion?  

Make content visually appealing. Software and tools bring the interactive component of learning (and the ecosystems I may argue) to life in a way we never thought possible even five years ago. Bring the student on a journey interesting enough to make them keep coming back for more. Use flexible branching technologies to make scenarios come to life.  

As professional learning advocates, we know if learners are engaged, they are motivated. Content that doesn’t meet the mark reduce learner engagement, possible course abandonment, and negative or neutral feedback. 

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How to Identify Content 

Content can reflect the knowledge of the subject matter expert. But if it is not utilized correctly, learner engagement suffers and there is an instructional drain. What is the specific resource and how is it best used? Separate the need to get information and the need to get training. Is the content a reference guide or is it a how-to video? It is possible and good instructional design to incorporate both – but only when it makes design sense. Define a strategy that manages content consumption and virtualization/contextualization.  

How to Define Outcomes 

When deciding what to teach, always anticipate the preferred outcome. Think about YouTube videos. Video is an excellent way to deliver information, but fight the urge to use video for everything. Humans retain more information when they enjoy how they are learning. Conversely if they watch an uninspiring video or the information is best learned another way, they disengage. Opportunity lost. 

Create meaningful learning experiences such as discussions, polls, scenarios and case studies. 

How to Make Content Social 

While we may initially consider video somewhat social, it really isn’t. One typically does not interact with others during videos. Use content in social settings to foster engagement and group exercises. Leader-generated content adds tremendous value to the teaching moment. Successfully integrating the social component allows for the interaction of peers and motivate others to share knowledge, best practices, and any tips and tricks. 

How to Organize Content Effectively 

Remember when we first learned how to Tweet. It was so difficult to write the intended message in only 140 characters. Content developers are increasingly challenged to do the same. Organize your thoughts in a logical flow. Focus on your objective for the topic and impart the knowledge in bite-sized nuggets. While this works for many subjects, it is more difficult to achieve in more complex skills. One topic builds upon the next and the next and so forth. 

Called a meta-strategy, this building block construction assembles the informational nuggets into the desired outcome. Always try to measure it. If a longer training path makes sense, continue in that direction. 

The Learning Ecosystem 

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There are many social settings but let’s use Facebook. We may think Facebook’s users are large consumers of content. There are technical and psychological factors to consider. Facebook’s users want to return over and over. Keep that in mind as you map out your path for learning ecosystems. The human factor is the most important goal to consider. If they want to return, they are going to find value in what you offer. 

If you plant a flower, you must examine the soil (the technology platform) to accommodate the seed’s roots (the content) and environment/light (human interaction). Learning designers must make lasting behavioral change to have a successful learning ecosystem. Once you set the framework, then begin skill acquisition through KPIs to ensure individual and team transformation. What are your business goals versus learning goals? If you can link the two, you are well on your way to a successful outcome. 

I am eager to have a conversation with you to discuss in more detail. Click here ((link)) and schedule a time on my calendar. I learn a lot from these peer discussions.

About Harvey Singh

Harvey Singh is the founder of Instancy, an enterprise web and mobile knowledge distribution and workflow company. Harvey is a pioneer in Internet Learning Platforms and Distance Education. A graduate of Stanford University, he dedicates his work to transforming the educational user experience through the use of technology. There are many LMS platforms - but only ONE designed by Harvey and the Instancy team.

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