“Portable Content” May Not Be So Portable After All

You invest a lot in developing course content, so you hope to get maximum use from it. Right?

This is the idea behind content management. You write a piece for insurance agents and you want to use it again for underwriters. You write a piece for financial analysts and you want to use it again for consumers. You write a piece for senior advisers and you want to use it again for support staff. You write a piece to help folks pass a test and you want to use it again to improve job performance.

Content management systems are designed to help you achieve your reuse aims. But does it work? Sometimes it does. But sometimes, content written for one audience goes over the head of another—or it flies beneath their radar. Why is that?

It all has to do with needs analysis.

To develop a superior financial education product, you need to understand what you are trying to accomplish and who your learner is. What is their need? What is their prior knowledge? What motivates them to learn? What engages them?

So a piece written for insurance agents may talk about customer needs. Agents are gregarious people-oriented folk and their purpose in life is to make a sale. Underwriters may have instructional needs that overlap the agent’s, but underwriters are more concerned with statistics and profitability for their company.

A piece for a financial analyst may focus on investment portfolios. Their resources allow for a great deal of research. Consumers may be interested in similar topics, but minutia may not get them where they need to be.

And so on.

I’m not saying that content management systems miss the point. They are great in making the intellectual property of a company available for reused. I’m just saying that it is not as automatic a process that we hope. That’s because learners are involved. And different learners have different needs and motivations.

It’s the learners that we are trying to reach.

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