The content cone and curation

An ice cream cone in a wafer cornet. The cornet is wrapped in paper and the vanilla whipped ice cream has a flake in it.
Photo by Pixabay on

An analogy about ice cream. When you get an ice cream you get the cornet first – the cornet is the platform and the thing which all other things are added to. Without the platform you don’t have a anything to hold your content. In learning, this will be your LMS, LXP, or whatever you use to host it. It’s the least interesting part of the ice cream but it has a simple job – make sure the ice cream is supported.

Most learning and development content could be vanilla ice cream. It’s both generic and easy to scale. Everyone knows what it is, what it promises, and what to expect. It is the fundamentals of content and for almost everyone, almost all the time, is fit for purpose. However, organisations often don’t want vanilla ice cream because their approach is different, has other rules, etc. They are quite happy to pay extra for different flavours of ice cream, i.e. specific learning content. This however is costly (since it requires different ingredients and techniques), is harder to scale and difficult to get right – just how many chocolate chips do you want in that mint choc chip? The last people the vendor produced rum and raisin for wanted lots more rum, and you want more raisin and less rum.

Good learning and development understand that curation is the way forward; curation is the sprinkles, sauce, flake, and bubble gum at the bottom of the cornet. It’s the small tissue wrapped around the cone so it doesn’t drip. It’s the low, nil, and neutral cost items which supplement and season the content.

Your organisation ‘knows’ your employees and ‘knows’ what they like so adds the right amount of sauce and the right flavour, and no sauce (if needed).

This is curated content.

This is brought in from outside, user generated, etc. The same for the sprinkles – how much, what kind, etc.

Most people in the org, most of the time are happy with vanilla, a flake and a few bits they can add themselves. The L&D role is then to design the additions AROUND the vanilla and cornet to make the ice cream work. That’s what good curation does.

One thought on “The content cone and curation

  1. An excellent, and tasty, analogy, thanks. The cone [LMS], continuing the analogy, is often overlooked in favour of the more exciting, more flavoursome, more colourful, ice cream [content], but without the working and carefully structured cone [LMS] the ice cream [content] leaks, falls out, or fails.


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