How to Clean Up Content
From the Blog Series: How to Create Content for the Modern Learner
In this series, guest blogger Cristine Lipscomb provides actionable advice on how to make this shift to modern learning content.
Blog #2: How to Clean up Content
“Managing learning content for today’s learners is a challenge for most L&D organizations because it means they have to actually think about learning content differently.”
What is Content Cleanup
A systematic process for identifying high-value content to keep, and rigorously retiring content that is cluttering the system.
Why You Need It
If you have an existing learning management system or content management system, chances are content has been added, forgotten, orphaned and become obsolete. Now is a good time to clean out the junk drawers.
Admittedly, “Clean up Content” is not a quick task to cross off the To Do list. You may need approval to set up a project, identify resources, assign tasks, and gain consensus on a process for calibrating content.
Who to Involve
- Learning and Development Leader
- Instructional Designers
- Content Management System (CMS) Administrators
- IT Representatives
How to Get Started
Here are some high-level considerations for planning the Clean up Content project:
Create a Comprehensive Content Inventory
Consult with your CMS administrators or IT team to determine the best method to create a comprehensive content inventory. Ideally, the content inventory can be exported to a spreadsheet or similar format, for further filtering and refinement.
Analyze Reports From Your LMS and CMS
1. Start by looking at reports that show what content is accessed and used most frequently, and what content is dormant.
2. Establish guidelines for retiring content.
- For example, you may determine that content that has not been accessed for one calendar year should be retired, or content that is accessed by fewer than 50 people annually should be retired.
- The guidelines you create will depend on your organizational requirements. Compliance-driven companies may have requirements to retain and archive content for a specific number of years.
3. Mark the content inventory, to filter content that will be retired. This is the first cut.
Use Your Judgment
Use the filtered inventory, and your background knowledge, to identify duplicate content that needs to be consolidated.
For example, there may be several versions of content on communication skills that are similar. Select one version to maintain, with the intention to improve high-value content.
Create a Content Inventory
Create an inventory of content to keep, and an inventory of content to consolidate, delete, or archive. When you are ready to delete or archive content, work with IT to create a copy of the production environment in a staging environment…just in case. Then, actively delete or archive designated content.
Scan the “content to keep.” Are content properties consistent? Is the metatagging structure consistent? Now is the time to create a taxonomy – a system for organizing content – to avoid more junk drawers. Use your metatag system so content can be easily searched, discovered, matched to user profiles, and filtered based on context.
What to Avoid
The clean-out-closet “I might wear this again” approach.
Don’t hold onto outdated content. If the content is outdated and unused, delete it. If you can’t delete content due to compliance or organizational requirements, archive it.
Nielsen studies consumers in more than 100 countries to give its clients the most complete view of trends and habits worldwide. Keeping its global sales team up-to-date on products and services was difficult because they were constantly changing. In addition, the sales team asked for product information in smaller, more consumable forms than the traditional Instructor-led and eLearning courses they had been getting.
The Global Training Organization recognized that they needed a content strategy that would help them break their content down into smaller chunks and make it more flexible, searchable and measurable. They worked closely with the business to simplify their offerings into a Practice Framework that positioned over 400 discrete products into a simple model that everyone could understand and parallels the way their clients do business. They then restructured their learning content based on this framework so they could effectively deliver “just in time” learning content. They developed robust personas to identify how associates prefer to learn; analyzing how, where and when they work. Having this deep understanding of their audiences helped them prioritize their work and target the best learning modalities to the commercial teams.
“We started to think about our content much differently, instead of in the silos. For example, this overview that we’re doing for this particular product curriculum could also be part of new hire onboarding. Or, wow, not only could it be used for a new hire onboarding, we could also put it in executive onboarding. You know what? It actually would be good for everybody on the sales force to have a general idea of some of it to understand other products across the portfolios. And so, as we started thinking about the content more broadly, it really made us re-think how we authored that content.”