I’ve been touting content models for, well, years now. Interestingly, I’m currently doing some more concrete work on them, from the bottom-up. Instead of looking at top-down implementation of governance and structure, the focus is on guidance for creating resources at scale. Yet the two are related, and I think it’s worth looking at templates as content model extensions.
The notion of content models is that instead of creating full courses, we build content in chunks, and pull them together by rule. Or even more appropriately, deliver the appropriate chunk to the right person at the right time. It’s been happening for web design for years, but for some reason the notion of content management systems lags in L&D. Yes, there are entailments – governance, strategy, engineering – but the alternative is that lingering legacy content that’s out of date but no one can deal with.
That’s the top level focus. Underpinning this, of course, is getting the content right, and that means having some good definitions around the content. I’d done that many moons ago, and in a current engagement it’s reemerging. The situation is that there are a number of people all writing content around this particular initiative, and it’s uncoordinated (sound familiar?). The realization that clients are struggling is enough of a driver to look for a solution.
Without a content management system, as yet, it still makes sense to systematize the resources around a map of the space, ensuring they align to what we know about how people learn and perform. That latter is important, because many times they just need the answer now, not a full course.
What we’ve ended up doing is creating meta-content that tell how to develop content that meets particular needs. With entailments, such as assembling a representative team to determine what’s needed and the labels to use. It also involves drafting and testing these content guides, prior to broader use.
It’s the tactical step of a strategic goal to provide support for people to successfully meet their needs. And, to be clear, to reduce the reliance on the support staff. Leveraging the cognitive and learning sciences, we’re building templates as content model extensions. This is before there’s even the technology support available to be more proactive, but planning for the possible future is part of the strategy.
I’ll be presenting a session on this at the DevLearn conference in October. If you’re interested and going to be there, I welcome seeing you.
Great post! Do you have some practical templates or next steps on how to accomplish this? It would be super relevant and helpful for my current needs. Thanks!
Jordan, unfortunately this is work for a client, so I can’t share. However, I’d consider what categories of different types of content might be helpful for your audience (lessons, how-tos, introductions, etc), and then draft what an instance of each category should contain. You could even write a prototype example. Then write a guide for how to write an example of each category. Then, of course, test it ;).