How the L&D team at Unum use curation to organise and share information


Curation provides a model and discipline around how to organise and share information for the L&D team at insurer Unum.

Speaking at last week’s weeLearning event in Bath, online learning consultant at Unum, Sam Burrough (pictured), talked through how he came to use curation as a way of finding and sharing relevant information with colleagues.

Burrough said that curation helped them to address three key themes – improving digital skills, helping people take control of their development and building stronger internal and external networks.

He and his colleagues had to think of ways to help people understand the opportunities presented to them, whilst at the same time making it easier to progress from trainer dependent learning, to independent learning.

His curation journey started with the work of Harold Jarche and Beth Canter who both talk about the Seek, Sense, Share model of personal knowledge management. This is fundamental to good curation because it’s the Sense part where the curator can add context, opinion and value to the content they share.

From there Burrough discovered Robin Good who he calls the ‘master of curation’ as well as Harold Rheingold. He shared this video of the two talking about curation.

Burrough found the analogy of the curator as DJ particularly appealing as he was formerly a DJ.

“I used to spend hours looking for records to create the right mix. The more you look, the more you find then you have to work out how to fit it all together for your audience.”

Having used tools such as RSS and Twitter to find and share information, Burrough felt that curation could address the company issues around digital literacy as well as representing an evolution of his own use of the web.

How did it work?

Burrough started by looking at how he could use RSS feeds to channel relevant content to the audience. RSS feeds are a bit like having a newspaper delivered to your door. If you subscribe to a site with an RSS feed any new content gets pushed out to you as soon as it’s published.

His first attempt used social bookmarking site Diigo to create a library of tagged content. Diigo uses tags, lists and groups to organise content and provide social features. Usefully it creates RSS feeds from any tag, list or group.

He created a Diigo group in which he and his colleagues shared links around the six core business competencies they were researching. Then they looked at ways of running RSS feeds from the Diigo group to one user friendly site for employees.

They tried using sites like Pageflakes, Netvibes and Symbaloo, but it wasn’t until the discovered that they felt they had the right platform for their audience.

Unum use curation tool to share the content in an appealing and user-friendly way

“ has all the functions we need to make the “Seek, Sense, Share” model work. The suggestion engine has powerful tools to discover and filter content.  You can add context and opinion to the content you scoop. It presents the content in an attractive magazine format and you can export it using RSS, social media and content sliders that you can embed on your intranet,” Burrough added.

Several employees at Unum have now started their own pages. While it is early days, the number of readers is growing steadily. The L&D team is also finding new ways to use their growing library of content to support other learning needs like, leadership development, communication skills and Microsoft Office training. See the L&D page at:

Burrough has also created a screencast of how to use as a curation tool.

Supercharge your Suggestions from Sam Burrough on Vimeo.


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