Why unlimited content isn’t useful for your learners

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Written by Libby Webb on 25 January 2019 in Opinion

Unlimited content is a good thing for learners, right? Well, maybe not, says Libby Webb.

Reading time: 3m 30s.

If you’re anything like me, then simply choosing a film to watch on Netflix on a Sunday evening is one of life’s most difficult decisions. And it’s not that there isn’t enough choice. In fact, it’s the opposite. There’s too much choice. 

In online learning, when presented with a vast and seemingly unlimited library of content, learners are likely to disengage and ‘play it safe’ (much like deciding on Friends for the 100th time).

In response, Netflix implemented thorough recommendation algorithms in order to mitigate this issue, but this technology has only recently been applied in the online learning sphere. And in fact, many LMSs and L&D initiatives still use the ‘unlimited’ approach to content.

For the modern workforce, finding the time to dive into a learning activity when there are hundreds of other tasks to accomplish in the working day seems an impossible feat.

But here’s why that just isn’t useful to your learners...

Why there’s no value in ‘unlimited’ content 

In a typical learning situation, we can only process one resource at a single time. Now that access to content is far easier than it ever has been, the issue facing organisations has moved to providing the right kind of content, at the right time, via the right channel. 

For the modern workforce, finding the time to dive into a learning activity when there are hundreds of other tasks to accomplish in the working day seems an impossible feat. This, coupled with an overwhelming list of articles, blogs, videos, podcasts etc to select from, sees many learners giving up before they’ve even started. 

And with a lack of motivation among learners apparent within organizations globally already, your L&D departments cannot afford for too much content to be the reason your investment doesn’t provide any benefit. 

The solution 

By removing access to unlimited content in your learning platform does not mean you have to restrict what your learners do have access to, or that you cannot supply them with some high-quality learning material and activities. 


Here’s what you can do instead:

Personally curate content 

The curation and aggregation of content is typically a huge part of a Learning Management System (LMS) or Learning Experience (LXP). Many LMSs and LXPs integrate with other systems so that they regularly pull in content from across the web to store in their resource library.

But sometimes, having a someone personally curate content for your learners proves more valuable as they can choose only a select few that are actually deemed relevant to your workforce and their goals. 

Use a smart recommendation engine 

An AI-driven, recommendation system, such as Filtered’s magpie, further eliminates the amount of time learners will spend sifting through a library of content, as the algorithm will recommend content and learning activities that match them on a set of criteria. 

For example, what is the learner's job role? What learning goal have they set? What content have they consumed already? The algorithm also learns with the learners, so that each new recommendation should be more relevant than the last. 

Use a Learning Experience Platform 

For a number of reasons, the LXP is becoming the weapon of choice for a lot of today’s L&D departments. 

Taking into consideration that different employees will learn/retain information in different ways, the LXP centers on learning through experience, rather than solely the consumption of content. So, whilst a content-fuelled course with an end of module quiz might work for one learner, a more informal method of podcasts, videos and collaborative learning may be better suited to another. 

As well as that, the LXP allows learners to set themselves learning goals, primarily focusing on their professional development. This could be developing a skill within their current role or transitioning into another. 

With a predetermined selection to choose from learners are not faced with the overwhelming task of plucking a goal out of thin air on their own. From there, they will receive recommended learning activities based on their individual learning outcomes, further enhancing the productivity of the learner experience.


About the author

Libby Webb is a content writer for HT2 Labs.


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