Blog Series: How to Create Content for the Modern Learner
Blog #3: Shared Content is Active Content
“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.
What it is
Shared content is the result of a systematic process for storing, structuring and managing access to content in a definitive source throughout the content lifecycle.
Why you need it
In most organizations, content resides on servers and hard drives inside and outside of the organization’s firewall, in various stages and formats that may or may not be accessible to the individual. Individual content stakeholders can range from content owners and developers to end users.
Without guidelines for sharing content in your organization, your organization may be adversely affected by:
- Inefficient Content
- Ineffective Content
Consequences of Inefficient Content
Inefficient content impedes workforce productivity. Content developers, content owners, and content users are consequently diminishing organizational potential when reformatting content, recreating content, and consuming outdated content. Here are some examples of the consequences of inefficient content:
- Reformatting content: Content developers expend an enormous amount of time reformatting content for various outputs.
When Learning and Development teams implement a shared content strategy, they can create a single source of content to publish to multiple formats, start delivering new projects 60-70% sooner at a reduced cost, and show real business impact as a result.
- Recreating content: Content owners are repeatedly asked to share their expertise. The subject matter expert will often create content in a single format, such as a PowerPoint file, and save it to his or her desktop. Peer experts throughout the organization recreate similar content for an event or one-time use, without recognizing the redundant effort.
When content owners are able to share their expertise in a definitive source and searchable format, the organization is able to leverage the up-to-date content across the organization, and apply expert energy to solving business problems.
- Consuming outdated content: When content resides in multiple locations, it often becomes orphaned and out of date. Content may be discovered and consumed by end users that are unaware the materials are outdated.
When organizations implement a shared content strategy, they reduce the risk of outdated content that can be perpetuated throughout the organization, resulting in inaccurate communication, procedures, and perceptions.
Consequences of Ineffective Content
Ineffective content also reduces organizational performance. When content developers, content owners, and content users are unable to access information at the time of need, business issues remain unresolved.
- Searching for content: When content is created ad hoc and uploaded to a vast collection of files without naming conventions and metatags, users are unable to perform a universal search for content. The inability to access content at the time of need can be an impediment to progress.
A content strategy that addresses naming conventions and metatags will facilitate search functionality and connect content to the right people at the right time, when business issues need to be resolved.
- Accessing content: When content is created in a wide variety of tools or a non-universal file format, it may be inaccessible to users.
A content management strategy that enables open access to content allows all users to access content regardless of software licenses they have or what device they are using at the time of need.
- Translating content: International companies often struggle with the iterative process of translating content into 12 languages or more. While the content is available, it may not be available in the users’ native language.
A content management strategy allows content development teams to develop content at its source, and then translate it in the content workflow.
Who to involve
- Learning and Development leader
- Instructional Designers
- Content Management System (CMS) Administrators
- IT representatives
- Subject matter experts/content owners
- Representative content users
How to get started
Does creating a content strategy seem like an overwhelming initiative? Having a good understanding of the content lifecycle and key stakeholders will guide policies and practices for sharing content.
Content owners, developers, SMEs and business stakeholders require access to manage content during the entire lifecycle, whereas end users wish to experience relevant content when and where they need it.
Here is a concept that personalizes the process of managing shared content. Create personas to define user requirements:
By identifying overlapping user stories, you identify what content should be shared and how many groups of users are impacted. This helps you prioritize too.
How to write a User Story
As a [persona], I want to [do something] so that
I can [derive some benefit]
What to avoid
Going wild without a plan.
Just creating a shared space and providing read/write access without guidelines is bound to create more of a mess than a solution.
File sharing systems typically do not support the various lifecycle stages and workflows associated with learning content development. Look for a CMS that can accommodate agile learning content development, reuse, multi-channel publishing, personalized delivery and deep content analytics.
A shared content strategy is a calibrated process that will save time, money, and frustration for the entire organization, plus allow individuals and teams to invest their talents in solving business issues that propel workforce potential.
A large information technology organization is responsible for education requirements with multiple different global accreditation bodies. Prior to engaging in a shared content strategy, the education team did not have standard tools or processes to develop content and did not have visibility into content inventory.
The education team was able to make a business case by outlining issues including no standard methodology to build content, no shared media library, no naming conventions, and no central storage. Ultimately, content was not shared, searchable, or scalable to the organization. The education team was able to demonstrate the value of a shared content strategy to company’s bottom line.
The education team defined the user stories, and created personas to determine a shared content strategy that could be personalized to user groups. The personas are fictitious people based on internal company research, and are used to distill data into conceptualized content users. The education team used a simple matrix to define the audience, determine what content attributes were required by each group, and identify content overlaps.
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