Earlier this year I heard a story that was so emotionally moving, as soon as I arrived at my desk that morning I googled ‘Malaysian Airlines MH370 mobile phones’.
The story I heard was a sad post-mortem of the southern ocean disaster which killed 239 people in March 2014. The news was reporting that family members of the deceased were becoming distressed after calling their missing relatives’ phones, which were unexpectedly ringing, buoying false hopes.
The network providers were being called on to explain how this could happen. Logic dictates that a ringing phone should disappear with the missing person. Explanation lay in a technological truth that in fact a ring tone represents a signal tower scanning for a phone signal. Needless to report, the ring tones were ringing out.
This short but emotionally powerful article consumed me. I wanted more. Who were these people, how did this disaster happen, what is a black box, who is responsible, how does a plane lose control, what do the pictures from space tell us? I had questions that could only be answered by consuming more content. Luckily for me, the fastest way to access more content that could answer these questions was being dished up via the ‘related articles’ feature at the bottom of the page – a feature now popular on most digital content sites.
I opened all the links. I read all the related stories. Within a short 10 minutes I was the new expert on international plane disasters, as well as plane mechanics, international zones of governance and ocean currents. What started as a quick exercise in googling an emotive headline, a story, ended in the consumption of a truck load of content on broad but related topics.
This got me thinking…
The content dish-up I’m describing above is called ‘curated content’; collected information, displayed in an organised way that relates to a particular topic. The boon of curated content is the type and the way in which the information is presented: often bite size, topic related, media rich, diversely sourced, expert and user generated. And curated content, hinged on a meaningful story is a powerful content vehicle.
News sites are doing it, as are social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest, and because of its inherent ability to drive a supply/demand of information within the reader, increasingly we see the relevancy of content curation to digital learning.
As creators of digital training materials our challenge has always been in how we drive adult learners to engage with our content. Social media and news sites seem to be ahead of the curve and have lessons to offer. The benefits of curated content accurately meet established adult learning preferences like chunked information, self-paced and self-driven content consumption.
Wrapping key learning messages in story, creating diverse learning resources and curating the learning program may prove the new frontier of digital training.