Curating Informal Learning

Earlier this year I helped my son create a temporary art gallery in an old mill complex. His objective was to showcase recently graduated young artist. It was interesting to observe the curating and jurying process of selecting the various diverse works of art that would be at the opening. These artist each had their unique talents ranging from three dimensional paintings to live performance art. My own experience with new product introductions had a remarkable parallel when it came to collecting, sorting and distribution of the related information (curating).

For instance final product design is in a constant state of flux as it is exposed to others familiar with the problem the product proposes to solve. Competitive research is also collected and analyzed to determine how to position the new product. The information reviewed during this (jurying) process helps to shape and further define the product. Marketing tag lines, “elevator pitches” and slide decks need to be created. Product reviews written by a knowledgeable independent industry professional critique and help position the product. The value and inclusion of complementary multiple source references and confirmed research data need to be considered.

Consider the additional other elements surrounding a new software product:

  • Pricing models
  • Technical briefs and specifications
  • Sharing in meetings, discussions and presentations
  • Press releases
  • Demonstration storylines
  • Analytics regarding target audiences
  • Materials used to build partnerships
  • Conference exhibit information
  • Collection of customer references and quotes
  • Expert opinions
  • Planning for the follow up feature sets

These collected nuggets are all part of the total set of information that various people need to be involved with and learn from. Each contain a certain degree of new experiences seemingly diverse but all united around a single objective of launching a new product not unlike the curating of art around a specific theme for an art gallery. Organizing and distribution of these of associated learning experiences are classically outside the function of Learning and Development and do not fit well in Learning Management Systems. Instead the fast flowing dynamic cycle of these information nuggets are stored inside the organizations Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, discussed in enterprise social networks (ESN) and referenced from external sources.

Learning and Development should not miss the opportunity to have a facilitation role in the process so these small learned experiences are not lost but instead captured for the next product cycle. Systems are now being introduced into the market that are able to integrate and use the existing ECM and ESN platforms by adding value to these otherwise lost nuggets. These lightweight systems are designed for specific purpose of broad sharing of knowledge. L&D should embrace these new systems which clearly need to be independent from complexity of an LMS. L&D is in the best position to offer their talent as guides for the curating of informal learning value using these new systems.

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