Tony Karrer asks in the March Big Question; 'How do we leverage open content in workplace learning?' Some very quick thoughts based on our experience of the last ten years of integrating content into the workplace. Open content has a place and professional providers like us have to make sure we can continue to provide value beyond that of open content. If you want to leverage open content, I'd suggest making sure that you are able to meet the criteria below which will help you maximise usage and the investment in making the content available. Firstly, don't call it learning. Content that is perceived as something that will help people do their job is used up to 5 times as much as content that is perceived as learning. We've got users statistics from the million plus managers in hundreds of organisations who use our toolkits to support this. Managers have a to-do list and the more you can align the content with this the better. "Learning is something I get to when I've got time" is a quote I hear regularly. Be aware of what I call the four major failure points, the first of which relates to the above:
  1. Employees need to know the content exists and what it will do for them. The me question; What's in it for me?
  2. Employees need to be able to access it easily, otherwise I'll do what I've always done.
  3. If it is workplace learning then users need to easily find something relevant to their task, challenge or problem.
  4. The content has to help them move forward with the issue or challenge that they are seeking help with, so that they feel positive about the source content and will return in the future.
So the packaging and promotion is very important to get people to the content and then the content must provide answers and support that is relevant to the question being asked. As a side note, we use much the same content with our private sector, public sector and university sector clients so the core of any good open content should be able to play well in all areas. There is a need to maintain and develop content and to ensure it continues to meet the audience's needs and any open content model has to have a reliable means of achieving this. Lastly, it is worth mentioning an earlier post by Owen on 'Professional content - what is it good for?'