Learning Content Types and When to Use Them
April 7, 2023
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You may have fond memories of college, but textbooks likely aren’t one of them. In the past, static materials like textbooks and worksheets were the only learning content available.
Fortunately, times have changed, and we know not everyone learns the same way. Research shows that most people have multiple learning styles, and instructors and organizations must adapt to create effective learning materials. Teams now have a mix of learning materials and formats, including blended learning, virtual learning, online learning, and more.
In today’s workplace, teams that practice continuous learning can achieve and maintain a competitive edge.
“Who are the companies that will thrive amidst all this uncertainty–it’s simple. It’s the companies who can learn faster than everyone else.”
–Ted Blosser, WorkRamp’s Co-founder and CEO
Discover how to create and harness effective learning content to help your teams grow and develop.
What is learning content?
Learning content describes the resources used to develop skills and knowledge to enable your team members to perform more effectively.
Content is endlessly available around us. Current estimates suggest that 1.145 trillion Megabytes of data is created daily, so most of the content you need has already been created!
The problem isn’t finding information; it’s putting information together so people can use it to learn and improve.
In the past—you may have seen learning content in textbooks, a handout, or PowerPoint slides.
Fortunately, learning content has evolved. As a result, today’s L&D professionals focus on content creation that combines microlearning, eLearning content, and other short-form materials that learners can digest, retain, and immediately apply.
Bite-sized digital learning helps reinforce the material, slowing the forgetting process and boosting retention.
By taking advantage of engaging content, you can train employees, customers, and partners and create a significant lasting impact for your organization.
Types of learning content
One of the first things to realize as you create learning materials and course content is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Instead, you can leverage different types of prebuilt content.
For example, with WorkRamp Content, employees can use relevant industry- and role-based prebuilt digital content. Off-the-shelf, ready-to-go content saves you time creating training, so you can spend more time building effective learning programs for your teams.
Before you start, it’s essential to understand your organization’s learning objective and needs so you know what gaps you need to fill. For example, are you looking to train new hires? Improve your sales process? Set goals so you don’t get lost in a labyrinth of courses and information.
When creating and using learning content, it’s essential to understand each type and when to use them to increase the effectiveness of your L&D initiatives.
Think of this type of training content as the base of a pyramid. It’s readily available but less high-quality or contextualized than other types.
If you’ve ever tried to learn anything from freely-available educational content, you’ve likely discovered you could only get so far without organization and context. There’s an overwhelming amount of information but little guidance on how to use it.
When using freely-available content, you must bake in time to adapt it to your desired learning objectives. That doesn’t mean it’s not helpful, but it may be more time-consuming than using other types of content.
Freely-available content is best for teaching general, introductory-level concepts where you don’t need to rely on quality or expertise.
Sometimes the steps to accomplish a task are the same no matter who completes them. Therefore, training courses and videos for these tasks—like creating graphs in Excel–are considered generic content.
Generic content is widely available in both free and low-cost forms. It’s a great starting point, or you can use it if you determine it works for your training needs and your resources are better spent elsewhere.
Curated content includes courses and materials targeted to a specific industry or profession.
Several courses are often offered as a bundle, covering topics like Emotional intelligence for sales reps or Excel charts for marketing managers.
Because curated content is pricier, it’s imperative to understand what problem you’re trying to solve before investing. For example, a curated content package focused on management training can be great for launching a new internal training program. You’ll have a foundation to build upon and can adapt the learning experience to your needs.
User-generated content (UGC) typically refers to content created by customers outside your business or on social media. For example, asking customers to post pictures of themselves using your product or service with a specific hashtag allows you to leverage UGC.
However, there’s another kind of UGC—that’s internal to your organization. For example, your teams are creating content about how they do their work. Can that be harnessed to help the L&D team train employees to build new skills?
It certainly can if you create systems for capturing, vetting, and deploying that information. Collecting your teams’ thoughts is a start. Then, you must ensure the ideas are accurate and represent best practices. After that, you must organize this information so team members can find what they need.
The best part of internal UGC is that it’s specific to your organization and how you operate. As a result, it’s immediately applicable, unlike generic content.
Creating a system to harness UGC can be a powerful source of information and resources for your L&D team.
Beyond internal UGC, some learning content will be created by the L&D team. This might mean starting from scratch to create a training process or creating additional materials to complement one of the other content types.
Some examples of internally-created content may include:
- Handling common objections your sales team hears
- Solutions to mistakes made in a specific process (customer service, returns, etc.)
- Confidential training related to the sales processes or onboarding
- Training that is specific to unique positions within your organization
These topics are specific to day-to-day operations, which means it makes sense for L&D teams to create these materials internally.
Finally, you can have content created by an eLearning content provider or content development team. Commissioned content is helpful if you have a smaller or less-experienced L&D team.
Commissioned content can be expensive. So ensure the assets are essential for your organization, and provide positive ROI, increased revenue, decreased turnover, and practical, efficient practices.
Leverage the learning content you need today
L&D teams have many opportunities to use existing content to train their teams. You don’t have to create everything from scratch—and in most cases, you shouldn’t.
WorkRamp is the Learning Cloud that empowers you to design impactful learning programs for employees and customers in a single platform. You can design your own training or use prebuilt content.
With WorkRamp Content, you can access over 85,000 course resources from over 250 providers. Employees can learn from relevant industry- and role-based content in a single learning center of excellence.
Learn more about how WorkRamp Content can help you create L&D programs to develop employees and unlock their full potential.
Complete the form for a custom demo.
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Anna SpoonerFreelance Writer
Anna Spooner is a digital strategist and marketer with over 11 years of experience. She writes content for various industries, including SaaS, medical and personal insurance, healthcare, education, marketing, and business. She enjoys the process of putting words around a company’s vision and is an expert at making complex ideas approachable and encouraging an audience to take action.
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