When it comes to closing a skills gap, we all know there’s great training material out there to help. The problem is - finding the right content is often easier said than done.

The sheer volume of options can make it hard to know which providers to trust, how much time and money to spend and even where to start in the first place!

That’s where playlists come in.

The beauty of a well-designed playlist is that it makes the sea of content easier to navigate. Rather than spending hours hunting for the right material, a playlist can offer a direct route to your learning objectives.

You see, playlists are powerful because they can both inspire and guide.

They might introduce you to a new provider that really resonates with your style of learning. They might show you routes into a topic that you hadn’t considered before. Or, they could offer a sequence of resources that are carefully designed to build or widen your knowledge in a particular area, step by step.

In essence, they help you know who to trust and how to structure your learning to achieve your desired outcomes more effectively.

But when you’re designing a playlist, how do you achieve that? What exactly makes a playlist ‘good’?

5 top tips to create playlists that boost performance.

Decide what the purpose of your playlist is

First of all, make sure you’re very clear about what you want your playlist to achieve. Think about the skill you want to develop or the problem you want to solve and then narrow down even further. For example, if your aim is to help improve your team’s presentation skills - which specific capability do you want to target? Do you want to reduce nerves during public speaking? Do you want to improve the quality of their slide designs? Maybe they need to focus on making their data more engaging? The more specific you can be, the better.

Keep your target audience in mind

Once you’ve honed in on the aim of your playlist, it’s important to think about the needs of your audience. For example, you should consider how much budget your users will have, their experience level and how much time they’ll realistically be able to dedicate to this further learning. This will help you choose the most appropriate resources for their level, budget and time constraints.

Embrace multimodality and a variety of providers

It’s always important to make sure your playlists include a variety of learning modalities, from shorter articles and videos to more time-intensive online courses and books. This not only makes the playlists more engaging but means your users can pick the resources that most align with the time they have available and their learning preferences.

Include between 5-10 resources

The magic number is really 6-7 resources, but anywhere between 5 and 10 gives a good amount of scope for your audience to get their teeth stuck into. Less than this, and your playlist becomes a little sparse - there’s not enough opportunity for users to really explore the topic and try out different providers. More than this and the playlists can become overwhelming - you end up back where you started with too much choice.

Structure

The structure of your playlist really depends on your desired purpose. If your aim is simply to inspire or share recommendations in a ‘top 5 resources for…’ style, structure is less important. But if you want to build a learning pathway that develops a particular skill, you need to think about how you’ll stitch those resources together.

  • Start your playlist with a shorter resource
    As a rule of thumb, it’s handy to start your playlist with a shorter resource - perhaps an article or podcast - that introduces your audience to the topic. If you think of your playlist as a menu, this would be the appetiser.

  • Take a deeper dive into the topic
    Then, the main body of your playlist - the main course - will be a selection of resources that take a deeper dive into the topic. Remember the previous advice to include a variety of modalities and always think about how the resources compliment each other.

  • Inspiration for further reading

    For the dessert, add one or two resources that can act as further reading. These aren’t essential to understanding the topic, but could look at a specific element in more detail or encourage your audience to apply their learning to a new context.

  • Remind yourself of the why

    Finally, always remind yourself of your ‘why’. Learners are motivated to invest their time when they understand why a pathway is useful to them. To help this, it’s useful to make the aim of this pathway clear in the introduction. We’d also recommend, where you can, adding content-level explanations to explain why this particular resource has been chosen.

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