Blog Series: How to Create Content for the Modern Learner
Team up on Content Strategy
“Managing learning content for today’s learners is a challenge for most L&D organizations because it means they have to actually think about learning content differently.”
In this series, guest blogger Cristine Lipscomb provides actionable advice on how to make this shift to modern learning content.
1. Content Strategy
What it is
A content strategy will help you deliver the right learning content to the right people in the right place at the right time. It is a repeatable method of connecting content to people by:
- Identifying learning content requirements up front
- Creating consistently structured content for reuse
- Managing that content in a definitive source
- Assembling content to meet business needs
- Delivering content where learners are
- Measuring its effectiveness
- Continuously improving high-value learning content
Traditionally, the focus in L&D has been on the substance of the content, often leading to the creation of very large courses “just in case” the content was needed. The shift to a “just in time” learning content strategy requires more focus (or at least equal time) on content structure, workflow and governance.
Why you need it
While not often cited as a quantifiable business asset, content is a significant investment of time, effort, and knowledge that can be the vital advantage in a business environment that is constantly changing, and often ambiguous. Yet many companies do not have a strategy to provide accessible information at the time of need, and too much information can be counterproductive. A recent report showed that 24 percent of learning leaders said “content overload” was a huge problem in their organizations, and 38 percent more said that knowledge transfer and retention of content are their biggest challenges. A nimble content strategy enables a workforce to get the content they need at the time of need, and apply it to solve business problems that increase organizational productivity.
As talent becomes an increasingly vital competitive advantage in the marketplace, Learning and Development teams are finding traction to move beyond a “cost center” to a position as strategic partner to lines of business. Strategic partners are expected to demonstrate results. When Learning and Development teams implement a content strategy, they can expect to get control of their learning content, start delivering new projects 60-70% sooner at a reduced cost, and show real business impact as a result.
PSCU implemented this content strategy for their new hire onboarding and they are seeing real results:
There has been a 15% increase in the Quality Scores 30 days post-training from the average before the new program. In addition, with the representatives going to the floor two weeks earlier, they are generating revenue that much sooner. Based on an average number of calls per rep per week, this equals additional potential revenue of $1.8 million annually.
Who to involve
- Learning and Development leader
- Learning Strategist/ consultant
- Instructional Designer
- Interactive Developers
- Content Management System (CMS) Administrator
- IT leader
How to get started
Identify guardians of content, also known as a content governance team.
Form a Content Governance Team
The governance team is a group of representative stakeholders and decision makers who are guardians of the Content Management System. The governance team demonstrates accountability for optimizing the CMS by establishing and reinforcing standards around content inclusion, content ownership responsibilities, content reuse, content maintenance, and more. Other terms for governance teams include Sharing Committee and Learning Collaborative Committee.
What is the primary charter of the content governance team?
- Ensure the CMS is aligned with goals of the organization
- Content is strategic
- Ensure the CMS serves as an enabler to individuals’ learning needs
- Content is easy to access and consume
- Content remains relevant
Govern and Improve
Start with a three-part meeting series that addresses content inclusion, ownership and maintenance.
Content Inclusion Policy – Meeting 1
Without a content inclusion policy, organizations risk “junk drawers” of content that detract from the user experience.
What content should reside in the CMS? Where should “other” content types reside? Should content be restricted to certain roles, job functions or geography?
Content Ownership Policy – Meeting 2
Without a content ownership policy, organizations risk orphaned content. Nobody is responsible for tracking relevance, updating content, and maintaining materials in the CMS.
- Identify content ownership roles: Who can own content? Instructional designers? SMEs?
- Identify content ownership responsibilities: The content owner is responsible for (a) ensuring the content is relevant, up-to-date, and accurate, and (b) responding to user inquiries related to the content use and reuse. All content sponsors with active content in the CMS are required to participate in scheduled content reviews and shelf-life-management inventories.
Content Maintenance Policy – Meeting 3
Without a content maintenance policy, organizations risk perpetuating outdated and inaccurate content. Determine how often content should be reviewed.
Policy guideline examples:
- Content scheduled for annual review: HR Compliance, Leadership Development, Personal Effectiveness, Corporate Strategy
- Content that requires quarterly review: Onboarding, Product and Sales Enablement, Health and Safety Compliance, Critical Business Systems, etc.
- Sunset policy: Retire content accessed fewer than X times in a calendar year; instructor-led classes that have not been scheduled for X months
What to Avoid
The boa constrictor strategy. Don’t swallow the whole content inventory at once. When implementing a content strategy, select high-frequency or high- volume content that can be reused in many contexts. You may find that the remaining content is not worth the effort.
A national bank has a central repository for content that represents not only all departments in the organization, but also includes content uploaded by each division around the country. Over the years, casual content developers have uploaded content with similar titles. The abandoned and outdated content resides in the repository, and reveals itself repeatedly in popular search results. Ultimately, users are repurposing content that is outdated, inaccurate, and perpetuating content that should have been deleted, or archived.
A content ownership policy identifies guardians who are ensuring that content remains relevant so that the content management system reveals reliable search results.
About the Author
Cristine (Duckworth) Lipscomb is a Sr. Learning Strategist, owner of Intrac Inc., and partner of Chapman Alliance.More Content by Cristine Lipscomb