At my current workplace, we have long been discussing how to incorporate user generated content (UGC) as a method of training- or- at least- of learning. The process of generating content (de novo or curated) requires both knowledge and analysis and synthesis skills, making it a powerful tool of retrieval practice. However, in the highly regulated pharma workplace, where most published content is first vetted through medical, regulatory, and legal reviews, we have struggled with balancing freedom and creativity with the risk of inadvertently allowing UGC that is either incorrect or incomplete.

As big believers in providing learners with agency and in including learners in the content development process, we decided to implement a low impact UGC pilot, with the aim to understand if the content generated would still need MRL review, and also the pros and cons and limits of UGC as a method of training.

CONCEPT: UGC was implemented as an interactive virtual pre-training activity for a training on public health. Using a dedicated MS Teams channel, training attendees were requested to submit content on mosquito control methods practiced in their countries.

RESULTS: The campaign was a great success, with comments, replies, likes, tags, and cross posting! Learners rose to the occasion and submitted photographs of fumigation, mosquito traps, posters in local languages, community initiatives, and household remedies practiced over centuries. The similarities and differences in across regions and cultures (APAC and LATAM) also drove the discussion. I facilitated the discussions as curator. I also invited SMEs to participate in the conversation.

OBSERVATIONS:

  1. While we may not be able to consider UGC as a standard source of scientific and clinical information, it can highlight practical applications of said information. UGC is also a great source of success stories, cautionary tales, regional specifics, tips and tricks, personal stories, etc. All of these engage learners, help them analyze training content, and widen their perspective.
  2. When the training topics are especially difficult/ intense, UGC can provide a brief interlude to socialize and be creative- great for interleaving- which as we all know is a powerful tool of learning.
  3. It should be the curator’s role to welcome diversity in UGC- demographics, viewpoints, types of media submitted (image, video, podcast episode, blog post, etc).
  4. The curator can drive engagement by facilitating discussions through liking, replying, tagging peers and SMEs to respond, etc. Encouraging SMEs to participate in UGC generated conversation can become an effective method of conducting an informal content review.
  5. To facilitate user generated content, it is important to provide a simple framework: Who can submit, when, how, why, what, and what not.
  6. The curator can add value to UGC by collecting the submitted information and discussions, developing enduring resources that are MRL reviewed, and then sharing them with learners as performance support resource. It is exactly like the image I have selected for the post- you can construct an airplane out of a paperclip!