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The top considerations for developing an effective L&D content strategy

• 4 min read

E-learning content has come a long way since it first made an appearance on the digital scene. In the early days it resembled its physical counterparts (e.g. course catalogs, digital textbooks). Then came online videos. Social media exploded in the 2010s and you got microlearning, digital-first tools, and learning management systems.

Today, digital “content” is less of a neat, packaged product and more of a full blown day-to-day experience. As a consequence, it’s more important than ever to have a comprehensive and nuanced e-learning content strategy.

We ran a webinar on this exact topic, entitled Supercharge Your 2023 Content Strategy. Below, you can find a summary of the key points: Eight around strategy and three around quality content. Want all of the details, stories, and context? You can access the 45-minute recording here.

Crafting an effective L&D content strategy

1: Define your audience

Who is going to be consuming your content and for what purpose? If your answer is “everyone in my organization,” you’ll likely produce generic, impersonal content. Precision matters.  “Senior software engineers, with less than two years at my organization, living in the APAC region,” is much better and opens up the possibility of leveraging specific industry, cultural, and situational context.

2: Review content trends for each audience and associated skills

Here, you can turn to market research or even ask around internally. Perhaps there are some popular DIY videos from a developer/influencer out there and you can iterate on that style for your own dev audience. Without first understanding your audience and having a sense of how they consume content, you risk defaulting to generic methods like “read this long article” or “watch this series of instructional videos.”

3: Establish learning & business goals

“Determine what’s most crucial to executing your company’s mission,” explains Sam Amin, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Docebo. “Ensure that you’re considering [the mission] when you’re goal setting for your learning.”

Your L&D goals should be helping achieve your business goals! This is the pathway toward justifying the L&D tactics in the first place, as well as the foundation for determining KPIs, measuring success, and collecting feedback.

4: Consider organizational culture

Content needs a voice! Learning should reflect the voice and culture of the organization that’s doing the teaching. This not only helps to reinforce culture, but can also help reduce the risk of the L&D content landing the wrong way, not being taken seriously, or sounding otherwise dry and boring.

5: Create the course design, build learning paths, and identify gaps

Considerations 1 through 4 are geared towards preparation and planning. Now comes the executional aspects of the strategy.

  • Course design: This is a topic unto itself—it is your curriculum
  • Learning paths: The way in which the course is delivered will change depending on audience needs and goals
  • Identify gaps: No design or execution will be perfect. Knowing what gaps you have in advance will help you work towards closing them or finding ways to mitigate them

6:  Creating content vs. curating content

You do not have to create all your learning content from scratch. It is perfectly acceptable to point your learners towards existing content. This is known as curation—and while it might seem much easier than creating, keep in mind that curated content must:

  • Align with your audience, goals, and culture
  • Be up to date
  • Be fact checked
  • Go through your internal approval process
  • Be reviewed regularly to ensure the points above are met

With creation, you have much more control over specifics and general alignment! So the trick is managing the ratio of create and curate for your L&D content strategies.

7: Measuring the impact of learning

Using business and learning goals as a foundation, establish both quantitative and qualitative ways to capture:

  • Did the audience actually consume the content?
  • Did the content successfully teach people something?
  • Did the learnings get applied in the workplace?
  • Did the application have any effect?
  • Did the effect impact the business goals?

Of course, this is all easier said than done! Each of these questions tackles different elements of L&D content. Getting into the details will help you refine and adjust future programs and justify investments.

8: Establish feedback loops with various departments

Do not develop L&D content in a silo! While it may not be realistic to get stakeholders deeply involved:

  • Give them an opportunity to provide opinions, especially on content related to their domain(s) of expertise
  • Tie some goals or KPIs into their departmental goals
  • Seek their advice on elements related to planning (items 1 through 4)
  • Task learners with providing their own feedback to the stakeholders
  • Proactively explore how L&D has impacted other departments

By establishing communication and feedback loops with other parts of the business, you position L&D as a central and mission critical element of talent retention, upskilling, competitive advantage, and more. You will also make your job easier by gaining access to audience and business insights that would otherwise be more obscured when working in a silo.

Great content can be a true differentiator for your L&D program.

What is good L&D content?

Sam Amin and Wynnona Haynes-McMahan (Director of Talent Development at Docebo) unpack these three elements in the webinar. But in short, good content is:

  • Relevant. It aligns with the business needs and is up-to-date.
  • Engaging. People want to pay attention to it—it’s gripping.
  • Applicable. It will help your learners do their job better, today.

The subcomponents of these three considerations could each be their own blog post, so we won’t go any deeper! Same goes for measuring and evaluating relevance, engagement, and applicability.

Watch the full recording

Join Sam and Wynnona for a deeper dive into these topics and much more (for example, how to engage Subject Matter Experts in supporting content development).

The recording of our webinar, Supercharge Your 2023 Content Strategy, can be found here.