“To get started with online learning, use what you have,” said William Hold, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, during a recent Non-Dues-A-Palooza webinar. “You don’t have to create complex courses with instructional designers or worry about SCORM. Draw people in with the non-course content you already have.” Will suggested putting together curated content bundles, such as a reading list for a specific job type with a test for CE credit at the end.
Why your members and audience long for curated content
The biggest barrier to self-directed learning isn’t money or motivation, it’s having enough time and attention for learning. People are too busy to find and evaluate articles or podcast episodes, hoping to stumble upon the ones that are worth their time. They need someone to do this for them, not to just aggregate and deliver content indiscriminately, but to vet, curate, and provide context for content.
You become indispensable to members (and others in your community) by reviewing and selecting the best content for different audiences and providing commentary and/or context for it. With curated content, your audience gets a taste of your online learning portfolio. Curated content brings them to your learning management system (LMS) where they can see recommendations for related content, products, and programs.
If curated content is such a valuable resource and lead magnet, why don’t all associations offer it? One, they haven’t made the time, and two, they prefer not to share content from external sources, which, frankly, is just plain silly. Your members are already bombarded with content from other sources. You have the opportunity to step in and select the best of it on a particular topic for a specific audience—and add some of your content too.
How to get started with curated content bundles
Some associations provide free curated content to members in daily news updates. But people are willing to pay for someone with discriminating judgement to do the time-consuming work of vetting and curating educational content for them.
During the Non-Dues-A-Palooza webinar, Will mentioned the Harvard Business Review’s practice of combining articles into an e-book for sale. In the past few years, newsletters, such as The Browser, that provide curated content are quickly growing their subscriber base.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) bundles journal articles and webinars. When customers successfully answer test questions after reading or viewing the bundle, they earn a certificate. To receive CE credit, they must also complete a survey that helps ANA assess needs and value.
You could simply assemble bundles of articles and posts on a topic. Add a video introduction from a volunteer or staff member explaining why each piece is essential for the bundle and what you hope the reader takes away from the experience.
Podcasts and videos
Offer curated content bundles in different formats, for example, podcast episodes or videos featuring industry influencers or hot topics. Follow the lead of Channels Stack, a curated collection of the best educational channels on YouTube, organized by category.
Webinar and session recordings
Combine a few webinars or session recordings into a bundle, and perhaps add a few articles and a test at the end for CE credit. When selling conference recordings, make sure you only share up-to-date and accurate information, and have the speaker’s permission to sell the content.
If you don’t offer a certification exam prep course—or even if you do—consider offering study guides and practice tests in a bundle.
Imagine what it might be like for a member to take on a typical project in your industry/profession. For example, in our industry, many people need help with their first AMS or LMS selection and implementation project. What do they need to know and think through before starting? Create a curated bundle of articles, checklists, and video or podcast interviews that will help them get started and stay on the path to success.
Look through session proposals that weren’t accepted last year—are they still relevant? Could you work with the submitters on a quick video or podcast episode? We found this suggestion from Carrie Hane, founder and principal strategist at Tanzen, in a white paper you must read if you want more content curation ideas. The paper is by Hilary Marsh, chief strategist at Content Company Inc., and Elizabeth Weaver Engel, CAE, chief strategist at Spark Consulting: Cut Through the Clutter: Content Curation, Associations’ Secret Weapon Against Information Overload.
Ask volunteers to help you find curated content
Volunteers are the best people to help you find and curate a selection of content on a single topic aimed at a specific audience’s needs. You could recruit advisory groups representing different audiences to help identify topics, find and suggest internal and external content, and provide commentary and context.
Ask members to contribute too. If they’ve read, watched, or heard something valuable lately, invite them to submit the URL and their commentary via a web form. Check website search keywords, community discussions, and email/social clicks for potential topics too.
Test curated content bundles
Don’t assume you know how a bundle will be received until you test it on your audience. During the Non-Dues-A-Palooza webinar, Teri Carden, founder of 100 Reviews, ReviewMyAMS, and ‘Palooza,’ said, “I’m always shocked at what people think is great and what people think is terrible. It doesn’t always align with my opinion, so you just never know.”
She suggested you put together a bundle for a small, targeted audience. Get their feedback on the content and its value (for pricing purposes). Collect testimonials to use when marketing the bundle.
Beyond the basic bundle
You could also assemble curated content bundles for volunteer leadership training at your association and/or chapters. Check the websites of ASAE, Association Forum, and other association executive membership organizations for ideas.
String bundles together into learning paths for different job roles or competencies. People appreciate having direction and seeing a goal to pursue, such as a certificate or digital badge that’s awarded upon successful completion of a learning path.
Will pointed out that you may not make a lot of revenue with inexpensive curated content bundles—although you can always offer more comprehensive and expensive ones. But, he said, “You’re engaging with your community. You’re giving them a taste of your value and building your connection with them. You can guide them to your online courses as you build them out in the future.”