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Discouraging EDU Lessons from Netflix Streaming
June 16, 2011 - 8:45pm

I used to watch lots of great movies and TV shows from Netflix. Today, I watch less, and what I do watch is not as good. To put it bluntly, the Netflix streaming library sort of sucks.

Still, Netflix Streaming has changed how I watch video. My preferred video watching platform is streaming. The "work" of putting the DVD into the computer or DVD player, or cracking the DVD for later viewing on different devices, seems too hard. Waiting for the DVD to get to the top of my Queue, and then to be shipped to my house, feels almost medieval.

I like Netflix Streaming because I can watch the movie or TV show that I want, and on the device that I want, as long as it is available in the Watch Instantly streaming format. My changes in Netflix viewing habits, I think, tell us something about how our students will approach our course content in the future.

We may not like it, but our students are going to behave with our course materials the way I behave with Netflix. If course materials are not available instantly and painlessly on all their mobile platforms, then they will spend less time with these course materials.

Are all of your course materials available on an array of mobile devices, accessible instantly, synching across devices? I'm thinking of course readings, captured lectures, and course videos.

The Discouraging EDU Lessons from Netflix Streaming:

  • Delivery Method Trumps Content Quality
  • Mobility is More Important Than Quality
  • Platform Flexibility is More Important Than Quality
  • Ease of Use is More Important Than Quality

We might decide that we don't care, or should not care, if our students act like I do with Netflx DVDs, and spend less time with course content. We might say that it is not our job to pander to the whims of students, that learning is hard, and that we make a mistake by equating our course and education work with education. Fine.

I tend to think that us educators are like everyone else, and that we operate in a marketplace of ideas. I believe we operate, and compete, in an information ecosystem. I want my students to fall in love with the academic disciplines that I love. I know that the world has many more information options than when I was a student, and I'm willing to work hard to get the ideas of my discipline in front of my students. If that means packaging and delivering my course content in a manner as compelling as Netflix Streaming, so be it.

Tell me where I'm wrong.

What lessons do you take for our courses from Netflix?


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