aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Content Curation

Posted by Ellen on August 19, 2011

All debates about using the terms “curation” and “curator” aside, figuring out ways of “finding, grouping, organizing or sharing the best and most relevant content on a specific issue”* is something that all associations should be doing.

Why?

Because we’re already doing most of it, and it’s a big (maybe even gigantic) reason our members pay dues to belong to our selective group.

They might not say it in so many words, but when they come to your organization — its educational sessions, conference, networking site, publications, benchmarking reports, research studies, etc. etc. — for help in developing their professional acumen, they’re actually relying on your ability to “find, group, organize, and share the best and most relevant content on a specific issue” so they can readily access it.

Aren’t they?!?

Of course they are.

But let’s take this amorphous idea of “content curation” and make it concrete and actionable. Ideas are great, after all, but useless unless we do something with them.

We have Rohit Bhargava, at the Influential Marketing Blog, to thank for the definition of content curation that we’re using here. Now we can thank him again for his “Five Models of Content Curation.”

He calls them “potential” models because he suggests there might be others (or these, altered in some way), but they’re a great place to start. Here are the five models (see his post for more detail around each of them):

  1. Aggregation — “curating the most relevant information about a particular topic into a single location”
  2. Distillation — “curating information into a more simplistic format where only the most important or relevant ideas are shared”
  3. Elevation — “curation with a mission of identifying a larger trend or insight from smaller daily musings posted online”
  4. Mashup — “unique curated juxtapositions where merging existing content is used to create a new point of view”
  5. Chronology — “curation that brings together historical information organized based on time to show an evolving understanding of a particular topic”

“But Ellen,” you say, “We’re already doing most — if not all — of these things. What’s the big deal?”

Of course you are already doing these things.

But are you doing them conscientiously? Methodically?! Systematically?!?!?

Do you have a clear process?

Do you have someone who owns the task?  A content curator?

Didn’t think so.

But you should.

Here’s how Jeff Cobb describes the role in his post “Who are your content curators?” at his Mission To Learn blog :

 

“A good curator must be skilled at:

  •  locating and evaluating valuable content
  • organizing and connecting content so that it is as accessible as possible
  • creating and re-purposing content when it adds to the underlying value
  • capitalizing on the Social Web to build connections and context
  • building trusted relationships with learners and other curators
  • design learning experiences (in a much broader sense than traditional approaches)”

 

How do you find someone like that? Hmm… maybe you already have a staffer or highly active member who’s a good match for the role.

Or maybe you can utilize the talents of a few people.

In “Get Serious about Social Learning by Focusing on What Matters,” an article in the e-Learning Guild’s Learning Solutions e-magazine, Eric Davidove includes a fabulous chart of various roles within a community network (see the full article for complete descriptions):

  • Consumer — “looks for and uses content, information, and social connections”
  • Creator — “creates, shares, improves, and discusses content and information”
  • Connector — “helps others to find the content, information, and people they seek or need”
  • Carrier — “helps creators to transmit and promote their content and information to others”
  • Caretaker — “person who manages the learning community”

What I’m suggesting is that your Creators are likely those who are actively distilling, elevating, mashing, and chronologizing (is that a word?!?).

Your Connectors are likely those who can assist with aggregating — especially in identifying subject matter experts for various topics and subject areas.

Your Carriers promote the initiative while the Caretakers manage it, all for the benefit of the Consumers.

Voila!

Okay, this might not be the perfect solution, but it’s a start, and you have to admit that there’s nothing here that you have to purchase or get approval for… (of course, you could implement it subversively!)

Your resources are within your organization: the content, the information, the people.

One Way to Get It Done

As you know, I’m not one for “what you need to do.” Instead I like to give “how to do it” lists, even if they’re imperfect. Adapt as you wish or need, but here’s a recommended action plan:

  1. Brainstorm: If you could categorize the information and content your members most want, what would those categories be? Write each category on a sticky note. Put the sticky notes on the wall from right to left in no particular order.
  2. Brainstorm: Who’s knowledgeable about each category? Who are your Creators and Connectors in each? Write each name on a different-colored sticky note and put those sticky notes under the category they could help with.
  3. Brainstorm: Who are your Carriers? Write their names on sticky notes of a third color and put those on the wall to the right or left of your categories.
  4. Brainstorm: Who are your Caretakers? Who might be willing to take on the role of maintaining the cache of information and content? Who would be willing to sort out valid info from “infomercials”? Write their names on a fourth color of sticky notes and put these on the wall outside all of the other groups.
  5. Brainstorm: What will you need to bring this content together and online? Make a list. Prioritize it. Investigate the possibilities.
  6. Go!

Yes, the last Brainstorm activity is where the rubber meets the road, technology-wise. More on how to make your curated content accessible in a future post….

Not that you don’t have plenty to do between now and then!

Note: If your association or non-profit is already curating content and delivering it to your members, we’d love to hear from you. What are you doing? Why did you decide to do what you’re doing? How did you develop it? What suggestions do you have for those venturing into organized content curation? Don’t be shy! If you prefer not to post a comment, feel free to send me an e-mail at ellenbehr@aol.com. We appreciate your insight on this topic!

* Content curation as defined by Rohit Bhargava in a 2009 blog post titled, “Manifesto for the Content Curator”

17 Responses to “Content Curation”

  1. […] Content Curation All debates about using the terms “curation” and “curator” aside, figuring out ways of “finding, grouping, organizing or sharing the best and most relevant content on a specific issue”* is something that all associations should be doing. Source: alearning.wordpress.com […]

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  5. […] than traditional approaches)”     https://alearning.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/content-curation/Show original Jan Gordon Chief Visionary I have applied a keen eye for blending cultural trends, the right […]

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  9. […] Content Curation « aLearning Blog All debates about using the terms “curation” and “curator” aside, figuring out ways of “finding, grouping, organizing or sharing the best and most relevant content on a specific issue”* is something that all associations should be … Source: alearning.wordpress.com […]

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  14. K. Barua said

    Really liked post’s content. Evolutionary subject area. Would like to receive the next instalment on this topic. Within a NFP (with constrained respurces) the “caretaker” role may find themselves responsible for delivery of all the other steps of the listed action plan.

    • Ellen said

      K — I completely agree, if I’m understanding your comment correctly, that whoever becomes the “caretaker” becomes, in effect, the one person who’ll end up actually performing all (or nearly all) of the tasks involved with curating the content. And for most organizations, that means more responsibility heaped on the shoulders of someone who’s already over-tasked and underpaid, someone who’s probably already putting far more than 40 hours a week.

      So the next questions involve how we empower our members to participate. What sort of “system” do we put in place that allows them to incorporate the content they discover and want to share? Is such a “system” any different than the social networks and discussion threads that are already out there (I think so, but I’m just curious about others’ opinions)?

      Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

  15. […] Content Curation for Associations […]

  16. I agree with no. 2 that curating information into a more simplistic format in order the audience can easily understand what the article trying to convey to audience. That’s why Feed Curator wants to deliver the best content in the world to your audience.

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