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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Curator Editor Research Opportunities on eLearning Learning

eLearning Learning continues to improve, but I'm hoping to find people who want to work with me to make it even better.

How eLearning Learning Works

I've described all the elements of eLearning Learning before, but never in that much detail.  I've pulled together the following diagram to hopefully help explain it a bit better.



Topic Hubs like eLearning Learning start from a group of Curators deciding what content should go in.  We currently have several different groups of Curators.

Combined this forms the body of content that the topic hub aggregates and organizes.

Everyone and Social Signals

The second very important group is Everyone.  We don't divulge all the details of how this works, but basically we are looking for social signals that indicate that someone thinks this content is good stuff.  I've discussed some details of this in Social Filtering.  The gist is that as everyone interacts with the content by:

  • Interacting on the Topic Hub
  • Viewing content
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Tweeting
  • Linking
  • Searching

We obtain signals that indicate Valuable Content.  See also An Aha Moment - as Indicator of Valuable Content - Importantly My Content.

Eventually, we will get more sophisticated and treat some people as being more important, but for right now, everyone is treated the same as they interact within the network.  We will definitely get more social signals over time.  And as more bloggers add the widget to their blog, we should be able to get more information that helps bring their best stuff to the top.

Topic Hub

The topic hub brings together content that its told about by the Curators, organizes it based on keywords that act a bit like tags, and uses social signals to figure out the best stuff.  This all sounds pretty simple, but there's some real complexity to managing all that's going on in a scalable way.  But rather than focusing on that, I think the key is some key decisions we've made around Aggregation:

  • Centralized content or distributed content. Do they pull all the content into the central site or leave it distributed on the original source?
  • Organization and Access - how do they organize the content. Human tagging? Automated? How do you access it?
  • Editorial Distribution - Single person, small group or widely distributed control of what comes in and what is best?

For Browse My Stuff and eLearning Learning, I've made some very specific choices about how we approach aggregation.

  • We believe strongly that this is part of a distributed network of content and people.  The goal is to help people find good, relevant content.  But to make sure that they ultimately arrive at the source of that content.
  • Our content is organized around keywords that act a little like automatic tags.  This is not perfect, and we hope to improve it over time.  Still we believe this does help people find relevant content.
  • We allow for distributed curators and editors.  I'd like to see more of this.  Hence this post.


Each week I generate a Best Of post that uses the social signals to tell me what the best content is for that time period.  This results in posts such as:

These posts are sent via email to people who have subscribed to the Best Of.  I won't rehash the discussion in Subscribed to Best of eLearning Learning – but just let me say that I believe this is a really valuable subscription that everyone should subscribe to if they are interested in eLearning.

Certainly, the Best Of can and will improve.  I've received feedback on these posts that they are much better when there's a bit more editorial to them. 

Today I saw this post: Best of Tony Karrer’s E-learning.  Sophie has added editorial to my Best Of post.  I'm hoping that I can maybe get other people to produce Best Of with additional editorial.

There are lots of other opportunity for editors.  The Top 100 Learning Game Resources by Upside Learning is a human edited (think editor) that came from a process where the person went around collecting web pages and articles on games and simulations.  They then used the Best Of capabilities within the system to pull back out the top items.  This is the approach I used to create: 100 eLearning Articles and White Papers which is a fairly popular item on my blog.

Opportunities to Get Involved

If you've read this post in detail, then you probably noticed that there are several places where you can get involved in eLearning Learning:

  • Calendar Curator:  Look for events that will be of interest to the audience and add them into a calendar.
  • Content Curator:  Look for interesting content or as you see interesting content bookmark it into eLearning Learning.
  • Best Of Editor: Help with posts about what's the best stuff for the week, month, etc.
  • Research Curator/Editor: Pick a topic you want to research.  Find good content and bookmark it to be included.  Then edit a Best Of post with all the good stuff you found.

I want to really highlight the last kind of involvement.  If you are about to research just about any topic, this is a great way to do it.  While not related to eLearning, you can see me doing it to learn about professional speaking with posts like:

Contact me by Leaving a Comment or by email: if you are interested in any of these opportunities.


Compassioninpolitics said...

By far, E-learning Learning is the best information dashboard or aggregator I've seen. Hands down I would recommend it as the best model in this space.

Locally, we have
which I think is equally simple (from my limited tech understanding. Of course, Alltop is probably the most popular automated aggregator--or certainly very high on the list.

I wish the customizable solutions in this space were more aesthetically pleasing and used 11 or 12 point as a standard font (NetVibes, Yahoo Pipes, and others)

Heres the most recent book on the topic, although its more for design-types:

Tony Karrer said...

Thanks for the kind words. And thanks for the pointers to both the Nashville site (some great ideas there) and the design site.

What do you mean by "customizable solutions in this space"?

Compassioninpolitics said...


When I said customizable solutions I meant the personalized or custom dashboards.

Dashboards which wouldn't require the user to know how to code in php, perhaps just to move widgets around. iGoogle and Netvibes are prominent examples of automated, but customizable information dashboards. Given that Netvibes allows you to publish your page as an actual URL, it seems like the superior option (even as its UX is rough given text size).

One innovation in this space is Filtrbox (or which will potentially come to this space). To me the filter provided by Filtrbox is pretty much the best I've seen--even better than the one provided by Google alerts. (Google alerts gives you NYC ball scores when searching for NYC searches). Unfortunately, its a) private b) paid beyond 3 searches c) has some user issues. But overall the best coverage of quality in a given area. Filtrbox promises automated curation of user created content. A Filtrbox widget would be awesome--if it existed. For instance, installed on an internal wiki or external blog, Filtrbox, I think could self-curate (without Digg-style ranking or Technorati/Ebay style authority or trust. Although, that could definitely provide another filter.)


Compassioninpolitics said...


One more name in the customizable space I forgot about was Protopages , which I think stacks up nicely vs. Netvibes in terms of textsize/usability. (although a more Alltop style look would help)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention Tony!

I agree with Compassioninpolitics, this is by far the best aggregator for e-learning I've seen.

I'm fairly new to the whole e-learning thing but with your help I'm catching up fast.

Tony Karrer said...

Nathan - Thanks again for your thoughts. I get what you are talking about now. And, there's definitely something weird about providing / not providing a front-end with browse my stuff. For people who are newer to RSS Readers, front-ends are important. We are still thinking about all of this aspect.

I'm not sure I buy the value proposition on Filtrbox - it seems like it social search more than anything. I guess it's using social signals, but it misses the curation and editing that I feel is important to get to good value.

@ramblingsfromafrica - thanks for the kind words.

hanum said...

Nice posting. Thank's for knowledge sharing. I like it ^_^