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Create or curate content

“What are common sources of content for instructional materials?”

“What are best practices for interviewing subject matter experts for content?”

"What are best practices for using artificial intelligence (AI) to create instructional content?"

“What are best practices for curating content?”

“How do designers address copyright concerns regarding instructional content?”

“What common mistakes should designers avoid when creating and curating content?”


This lesson explores common sources and best practices for creating and curating content for instructional materials, as well as addressing copyright concerns. It provides insights on interviewing subject matter experts, curating content effectively, obtaining proper permissions, and avoiding common mistakes. By following these guidelines, learning designers can develop high-quality instructional materials that enhance the learning experience.


Through this lesson, you should be able to learn more about common sources and best practices for creating and curating content for instructional materials as well as common mistakes to avoid.

What are common sources of content for instructional materials?


Much like editors and technical writers, learning designers often work with content that falls outside their personal expertise. As a result, they must draw from reliable resources to gather content that supports the learning objectives they identified during the Design phase of their project.


Common sources of content for instructional materials include the following:

  • Interviews and focus groups with subject matter experts

  • Documentation written by or otherwise provided by subject matter experts (e.g. organizational policies and procedure documentation, software documentation)

  • Existing training materials that can be leveraged for redesigned learning opportunities

  • Third party resources (which require appropriate copyright agreements)

  • Artificial intelligence platforms, which provide initial drafts that are reviewed and revised by subject matter experts


What are best practices for interviewing subject matter experts for content?


When interviewing SMEs for content, approach the conversation in a structured and organized manner to ensure you cover all necessary topics and gather accurate and useful information to help learners master the objectives. Consider the following tips for conducting effective interviews with SMEs:


Remember to be respectful of the SME's time and expertise and express appreciation for their contributions. A well-prepared and well-executed interview will help you create high-quality instructional content that meets your learning objectives.


What are best practices for using artificial intelligence (AI) to create instructional content?


When using AI to generate instructional content, there are several best practices to keep in mind. These practices can help ensure the quality and effectiveness of the generated materials. Here are some key guidelines:


1. Write specific prompts

When it comes to AI-generated content, you will get out of AI tools (like ChatGPT) what you put in. In other words, be very specific in the prompts you submit. For instance, instead of writing a vague prompt like "Teach me about emotional intelligence in the workplace," explain to the AI tool specifically what you want them to do based on the insights gained during Analysis and decisions made during Design. For instance, you could write "Act like an instructional designer. Write instructional content to help [describe learning audience] to [insert learning objective." In addition to content, you can also use AI to draft activities, video scripts, assessments, and more!


2. Validate and refine AI-generated content

AI-generated content should be carefully reviewed, validated, and refined by subject matter experts. This step helps ensure accuracy, relevance, and adherence to instructional design principles. Human oversight is crucial in maintaining instructional integrity.


While AI can automate content generation, it is important to strike a balance between AI automation and human expertise. Human instructional designers should collaborate with AI systems to fine-tune the content, add context, and incorporate creative elements that AI may struggle with.


3. Consider ethical implications

When using AI, be mindful of ethical considerations such as data privacy, bias, and transparency. AI-generated content should align with ethical guidelines, respect learners' privacy rights, and avoid perpetuating stereotypes or discrimination.


By following these best practices, instructional designers can effectively harness the power of AI to generate high-quality, personalized, and engaging instructional materials that enhance the learning experience for learners.


What are best practices for curating content?


In some cases, learning designers will be asked to curate (instead of create) content for instruction. In other words, they will leverage existing content sources and integrate them into a new learning experience. In these situations, consider the following best practices for curating instructional content:


By following these best practices, learning designers can curate content that enhances the learning experience and helps learners achieve their goals.


How do designers address copyright concerns regarding instructional content?


As a learning designer, it's important to ensure that you have proper copyrights to use third-party content in your instructional materials. Failure to obtain the necessary permissions or licenses can lead to legal issues and copyright infringement.


Here are some best practices for ensuring you have proper copyrights to use third-party content:

  • Determine the copyright status: Before using any third-party content, determine the copyright status of the material. If the content is in the public domain, you can use it without obtaining permission. However, if the content is copyrighted, you'll need to obtain permission from the copyright owner.

  • Obtain permission: If the content is copyrighted, obtain permission from the copyright owner before using it. This may involve contacting the copyright owner directly or using a copyright clearance service.

  • Use Creative Commons materials: Consider using materials that are licensed under Creative Commons. These materials are typically free to use as long as you follow the terms of the license.

  • Cite sources: When using third-party content, always cite the source. This not only gives credit to the creator but also helps ensure that you're not accused of plagiarism.

  • Purchase licenses: If you need to use copyrighted materials, consider purchasing licenses from the copyright owner or a licensing agency. This can provide you with legal permission to use the materials.

  • Avoid using copyrighted material without permission: It's important to avoid using copyrighted materials without permission, even if you think the use falls under fair use. Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission, but it's a gray area and can lead to legal issues.


It's important to note that the ownership of copyright for AI-generated content can vary. Generally, copyright laws attribute ownership to the creator or author of an original work. However, when it comes to AI-generated content, determining the ownership can be more complex.


In some cases, if the AI model or algorithm used to generate the content was developed by an individual or a team within an organization, the organization may claim ownership of the copyright. This is based on the premise that the AI is considered a tool or creation of the organization.


On the other hand, if the AI model was trained using pre-existing copyrighted materials or data, there could be a question of whether the generated content infringes upon existing copyrights. In such cases, it is essential to consider the licenses and permissions associated with the training data.


It's worth noting that copyright laws and regulations are still evolving in relation to AI-generated content. Different jurisdictions may have specific laws or guidelines addressing this issue. Consulting with legal professionals experienced in copyright law is advisable to navigate the complexities and determine ownership rights in a particular situation.


Ultimately, to avoid any ambiguity or disputes, it is recommended to establish clear agreements and documentation regarding ownership and usage rights when AI is involved in content generation.


By following these best practices, instructional designers can ensure that they have proper copyrights to use third-party content in their instructional materials, avoiding legal issues and copyright infringement.


What common mistakes should designers avoid when creating and curating content?


Some common mistakes that learning designers should avoid while creating and curating content include the following:


Summary and next steps


This lesson has focused on creating or curating instructional content. It has included common sources that learning designers should use to find content for instructional materials; best practices for interviewing subject matter experts for content, using AI to generate content, and curating content; how to address copyright concerns regarding instructional content, and common mistakes to avoid when creating and curating content.

To help you learn more about developing content in specific learning situations, continue to the next free lesson in LXD Factory’s Develop learning path: Develop instructor-led training (ILT).

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