Many thousands of subject matter experts (SMEs) capture and share their knowledge in the form of a course or assessment using Easygenerator. As we are working closely with our customers, we gained new insights about how to manage and improve the quality of the content in a smarter way.
Old school quality control
When companies start with Employee-generated Learning there is always a concern about the quality of the content. The fear is that SMEs will create ineffective content because they do not have any Instructional design or didactical knowledge. And the initial reflex is often: control. They forbid subject matter experts to publish. Instead, SMEs have to send their courses to someone (or some controlling committee) for control. They will decide if the quality is sufficient or not and publish the content into the LMS.
Faster and more cost-effective
Increased speed of development and decreased costs are two of the most important drivers behind Employee-generated Learning. Having SMEs create learning content is way faster and cheaper than the old school centralized way of content creation. But if you decide to build-in a quality check process you will take away this advantage.
It is all about responsibility
The biggest benefit of Employee-generated Learning is that it will help you to keep your content up-to-date. SMEs are responsible for content creation and maintenance. If something changes in the business or when SMEs gain new knowledge or insights, they can quickly update the content. This ensures that the content is always up-to-date and accurate. Formal control checks would undermine this responsibility and disturb the process.
New ways to improve the quality of the content
By working with our customers, we found a couple of ways that will allow you to have high-quality content and at the same time keep the benefits of Employee-generated Learning.
Show the authors name
The first one is really simple. Make sure the name of the author is clearly visible in the course. When their name is so clearly attached to the content, people will think twice before putting out bad content; their name is on the line after all.
“We also found that learners are more likely to share their feedback with a named author than with an anonymous author.”
You can ensure quality from L&D, by checking if the author’s name and contact details are clearly stated in the course.
Consider publishing your employee-generated content somewhere else than in your LMS. An LMS is a formal top-down controlled environment, it does not naturally invite feedback. Feedback from the learners is indispensable in improving the quality of the learning content. With many social learning platforms, learning experience platforms or even with collaboration and knowledge sharing platforms it is way easier to publish something and respond to it. They are built with a feedback loop in mind. You need this feedback in order to get what we call the “Wikipedia effect’. Because so many people read the content and respond to the content with suggestions and improvements, the quality will improve significantly. That is what you want to enable.
The Google effect
Most social learning tools have a search option as the main way of finding content. Good content, because it is read and shared frequently, will rise in the search results where it will be found easily. Bad content, on the other hand, will not be read or shared, and so will not appear high in the search results, disappearing into the mass. A quality check without any extra effort.
Bonus: Combining top-down and bottom-up content creation
Here is an overview of the process. An author (the SME to be more specific) publishes a course onto a social learning platform or LXP with his name clearly attached to it. He gets feedback from the learners and improves his content based on that. And now the bonus part comes into play.
The learning department can cherrypick from the Employee-generated Content. By selecting the best courses from the pool and upgrading them with the SME to official company-approved content they can get a lot of high-quality content for the formal LMS with very little effort. Please do make sure the SME stays responsible for the “official” course, otherwise, you will lose your benefits.