the instRuctionaL cuRatoR?

I found this article today as I was searching for some inspiration.

Curation is popular online – tumblr, pinterest, blogging to some degree, flipboard.. all ways to curate other people’s content into something interesting-to-you information.  I have flipboard, pinterest, blogs..  in my own way, outside of my professional life, I curate my own content.

I’m not going to summarize the entire article – it speaks for itself and provides an excellent overview of how I view curation from an instructional design perspective.  However, I will talk about my two favourite points in the piece:  synthesizing and balancing.

These two points are what, in my opinion, tend to be lacking in a good instructional designer. The author of the article defines synthesizing as the ID’s job of connecting the dots and painting a bigger picture.  It’s not copy and pasting existing content.  It’s the questions, the context and the design that makes curation so amazing.  Consider a museum curator, if it helps, and how differently the Mona Lisa may present in a room of other portraits or in a room of other da Vinci highlights.  The story that painting tells is different in each setting – something to consider as we curate our content for learners.

The second point that resonates is the balancing issue for instructional designers – how much curated content do we use verses how much net-new and when is appropriate for each and in what ratios?    I tend to look at all the content I have available, what “story” I would like to tell, and then analyse what is missing.  It is those missing, or potentially incorrect or outdated, pieces that I balance with net-new information.  It was once presented to me as “not recreating the wheel”.  When remembering this, I also think, “but I may need to check the tread”.  I don’t replace what I don’t need to, but I check to ensure everything is working and we’re headed in the right direction.

storyboarding – and the desire to over think it

As an instructional designer, I’ve been in my fair share of discussions about storyboarding.  Should we do it in Word, or PowerPoint and what should the storyboard contain and is the “storyboarder” (if there is a separate developer) responsible for the supporting images and graphics?

I’ve even read some articles online about storyboarding and drawing with a pencil and presenting ideas through drawings and later transferring it to PowerPoint so that your rapid eLearning authoring tool can quickly turn it into eLearning.

And I think, REALLY?

Here’s what I think storyboarding is:  Storyboarding is the process of curating your content into a meaningful flow and exploring what the finished product “could” look like.  It’s what you send for review to your SMEs.  It’s the story – of your eLearning, modules, ILT, whatever – laid out neatly on some sort of “board” so that your reviewers can see where you’re going with the content and make sure it’s correct.    As an example, I recently had to comb through approximately 24 modules of content to re-create a course and design it down into 16.  I changed the flow, the structure, and took much of the “fat” out of the course.  My storyboards were the “narration” piece of the modules.  What the learner would hear.  It was the story of how they’d learn – with supporting graphics and visuals, or a request for them as I discovered what was missing!   I divided it by topics and time, in a logical flow.  My review was about content.  Is this CORRECT?  Am I missing anything?  Does it require additional context?

I did it in Word, but have no issues with PowerPoint – my only concern about those using PowerPoint is that sometimes your reviewers can get caught up in the “look” of things instead of focusing on the content – I’ve been in situations where people are reviewing the wrong things and missing their opportunity to validate content – which creates a lot of additional work at a later stage.

I find that these IDs who write about jotting down sketches and drawing your learning and all this nonsense are either trying to make our job sound better than what it is or completely over thinking the process.  It is our job to curate content in a way that will make learning more efficient, appealing and useful.  The storyboard is an opportunity to make sure that the content you’re working with, and your basic ideas for presenting it, are correct.