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Netflix, Collections and Mobile Learning

Netflix recently announced a new iPhone and Touch app that lets subscribers stream video over 3G and Wi-Fi connections. You can watch a quick video about the application from Netflix at this link.

August 30, 2010
 
 

Netflix recently announced a new iPhone and Touch app that lets subscribers stream video over 3G and Wi-Fi connections. You can watch a quick video about the application from Netflix at this link.

According to Wikipedia, Netflix has over 17,000 movies and TV shoes available for streaming. The library of videos available for streaming is growing rapidly, with Netflix signing a mulityear deal with EPIX to stream 3,000 more titles from Viacom's Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM. Unlimited streaming plans start $8.99 a month.

All of which leads me to ask, should IHE's be in the business of purchasing videos for our collections? The Netflix value proposition was pretty compelling with over 100,000 titles, but has the iPhone and Touch app put Netflix over the edge?

As usual, some questions:

  • Does it make sense to depend on one company for all an institutions curricular media? Do the benefits of a large selection and Netflix's lead in mobile technology outweigh the costs of becoming depending on a for-profit company? I think that the marvelous Barbara Fister might have something to say about this. But has the game changed, and do we have an opportunity to both re-invest resources from collections to people (librarians who can work with instructors to select appropriate curricular media) and offer more resources across more platforms?
  • Has anyone tried to work with Netflix to create an EDU subscription service? A special deal for enrolled students and faculty members? This seems like it would be in the interest of both parties.
  • What consortium or professional organization could negotiate on behalf of institutions of higher learning?
  • Would it make sense to wrap a Netflix subscription into a technology fee? Or should subscribing to Netflix, either at the $8.99 cost or the reduced EDU fee, be an individual choice? The advantage of an institutional subscription, paid for by technology fees, would be to insure that every student had access to all the media assigned as curriculum. Perhaps individual students could decide to "bump up" to more expensive plans if they chose.
  • Let's assume that we decided to go this route and sourced our curricular media to Netflix. How much money would this save? (assuming we could pass the costs along to students through some sort of fee). Do we know what proportion of the acquisition budgets across institutions go to media purchases? Is there a rule thumb to understand the per-spending pupil on library (and therefore) media materials. I know that this must vary greatly across institution, but can we say anything about spending across different types of institutions?

Is my infatuation with sourcing traditional college/university functions both to the cloud and for-profit entities fundamentally misguided? Does my desire to move from fixed to variable costs to save resources (and ultimately drive down tuition) in reality a recipe to erode quality?

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