Most of us have been guilty of bingeing at least one box set at some point, especially during the lockdown. It’s an easy way to lose time being entertained and focused on just one thing. But what makes these shows that bingeable?
Netflix is the biggest streaming platform out there, and it had reached a huge milestone by the end of 2020, getting over 200 million paid subscribers from across the globe. All the different factors that contribute to the streaming giant’s continued dominance are already being studied by media experts and will be for years to come. As a business model, it really is flawless.
But what does all this have to do with eLearning content you ask? Well, in this article, we’ll be looking at 8 ways that content is formatted and presented on Netflix to encourage the modern phenomenon known as ‘bingeing’, and how these principles can be applied to your eLearning content.
What does Netflix Teach Us?
One of the defining aspects of the majority of Netflix’s content is that users can watch it any day, any time on just about any device as long as they have an Internet connection. All episodes are made available instantly when a season premieres. You don’t have to wait a week just to see what happens next like in the old days of TV programming.
eLearning Lesson: Don’t restrict access to eLearning content, whether it’s via time or progression. Respect your learners’ intelligence, and allow them to take any course whenever they like. Different people learn at their own pace.
One of the advantages of watching on Netflix is that users can pause in the middle of an episode and even close the app to do something then pick up right where they left off later. This also applies after users have finished an episode or season, as Netflix conveniently shows the very next instalment without any effort from the user.
eLearning Lesson: Track and show your learners’ progress using your Learning Management System and allow learners to pick up where they left off. They should be able to log off safely when they haven’t finished a module or course, knowing that they can resume from where they stopped when they log back on.
Even with all of Netflix’s innovations, it still mostly follows the old standard TV episode length of around 42 minutes. In traditional TV production, this is done to make space for commercials. Netflix doesn’t have any, so why continue with tradition?
It’s to encourage binge-watching, as people naturally divide their time by 30 and 60 minutes. If you start an episode at 10:00 pm and finish by 10:42 pm, you can easily convince yourself to squeeze in another episode before bedtime. Next thing you know, you’re another two episodes in and it’s nearly half 11.
eLearning Lesson: Chunk your eLearning content into portions that learners can easily digest while still being meaty. Provide estimates at how long a module might take. Learners are more likely to take one that looks short, and if they find it engaging, they are also likely to take another “short” module.
Leave them hanging
Another aspect of traditional TV production that Netflix still does with its original content is ending each episode with a cliffhanger. It’s easy to see why it works: give the audience a thrilling end that teases what happens next but leaves just enough for the imagination, and they will want to watch the next episode as soon as possible. Having all episodes available at once makes it even more effective for binge-watching since viewers can play the following episode immediately.
eLearning Lesson: Create your eLearning content with teasers at the end for the succeeding step in the programme. You can pose questions regarding the lesson they just learned that can only be answered within the context of the next lesson. From your LMS, you can also create personalised pathways to ensure your learner can progress through topics relevant specifically to them in their own time.
Create a sense of accomplishment
With all the content that is available on Netflix, people start having backlogs of shows, movies, and documentaries they want to watch. Conversations can be had among family and friends just talking about what they’ve watched recently. There’s a level of satisfaction of finishing a series and crossing it off your to-watch list, and Netflix understands this with how it presents its content as lists.
eLearning Lesson: Design your user experience in such a way that makes it obvious for learners to easily grasp the structure of your courses. Integrate gamification elements such as points and badges to mark progress and reward completion, as evidence shows learners are more motivated with gamified courses than traditional ones.
Allow user input
One look at Netflix can feel overwhelming with all the content to choose from. Sometimes, you don’t want to browse the entire library when you want to watch something new. Thankfully, Netflix lets you create your own personal list that you can fall back on for comfort viewing and binge-watching sessions. You can also click on the “check” button to mark content you’ve watched, alongside giving it a thumbs up or down rating.
eLearning Lesson: User input such as being able to curate and rate content adds to the feeling of control that learners appreciate from your eLearning programme. It shows you value their feedback while driving them to engage with your content. It’s also another useful way to collect data on what kind of content resonates with your learners.
Something for everyone
It’s not just that Netflix has a lot of content for its user base, it also has a diverse showcase of genres that cater to all kinds of audiences. There are animated comedies aimed at adults, prestige drama films, and quirky documentaries among so many other types of video content. The production pipeline for original material is staggering, with the company investing $1 billion in the UK alone to make new shows and movies in 2020.
eLearning Lesson: Offer a wealth of options for your learners to dive into. Create eLearning content in various formats such as videos, podcasts, slide presentations, and text. Prepare content that also caters to varying degrees of expertise, including beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses.
Binge-watching on Netflix isn’t limited to one show or movie. Once you finish one piece of content, you get recommendations for other content that Netflix thinks you might enjoy. The recommendations can be as simple as other content in the same genre. It can also be as complex as matching your viewing taste with other viewers and then recommending content that those other viewers enjoy. With its highly sophisticated machine learning algorithm, Netflix can keep you on its platform with one laser-targeted recommendation after the other.
eLearning Lesson: Show related courses to learners when they finish one to keep them engaged. You might not have as powerful an algorithm as Netflix’s, but it’s probably easier to tailor recommendations with a course library and user base that is considerably smaller.
Learning from Netflix to Promote Binge-Learning
Netflix continues to enjoy massive success and while it’s unreasonable to expect any learning platform to achieve the popularity of a consumer entertainment product, you can still apply these lessons from Netflix to enable and encourage binge-learning with your own eLearning programme.
And if you need help creating bingeable eLearning content, get in touch with Wahoo Learning today. We have a team of eLearning content creation specialists, an intuitive LMS and managed services that can help you create engaging, easy-to-manage training programmes.