Tag It and Carry On: Categorize and Simplify Complex Knowledge


Experts know so much, so deeply, how could they ever explain it to you?

Fact is, your expert not only can explain it but when you guide them systematically, they can drop bread crumbs all along the learning path for you.

As training specialists, instructional designers or any other content developer tasked with capturing expertise, you can help your expert lead you toward a logical and easy-to-understand learning path. Some experts are hard wired to think sequentially and teach what they know, but others aren’t and that is where your guidance comes in handy.

In the beginning of your knowledge capture adventure, get a feel for the whole body of knowledge that you are wrangling. Lay out what you think is a logical path, and check with your expert. When you both agree on the parameters of the topic, create milestones, subcategories or some other measure that breaks up the material into easily digestible bites.

After you have agreed on the full scope of work and the units of measure, create a common language – or tag – for each part based on symbols, numbers, words or some other descriptor that allows both you and the learner to have a frame of reference for the sequence and internal relationship of the material to the whole. The tags create stationary markers or a taxonomy to guide you.

Create Tags

Ah, what did I just say?

I just said “create tags.”

When you and your expert have agreed upon the general scope of the content, create content tags to categorize the material. These tags, determined early in the process, give you both a way to know where something belongs as you collect information from your expert. It will also help you figure out what is most important and what kinds of information are secondary “nice-to-knows”.

Often your expert will think something is more important than you do. Your expert may insist certain things be included that will make the curriculum too long or too complicated for the level of learning expected. Your tags help you categorize and create a hierarchy for what is most essential to stay on the direct learning path.

You can always take secondary or non-essential information and add it to an appendix, glossary or pop-up. When you have created a learning path, it will help you both remain clear on what is most important and what information is supplementary or can wait for the next level of courses that you develop.

So, Tag it and Carry On.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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