Is Your Learning Tech Stack Blockbuster or Netflix?

Is Your Learning Tech Stack Blockbuster or Netflix?

We shared in our earlier blog titled ‘So you want to be the Netflix of Learning’ some of the psychological principles of Netflix and how consumers are more likely to engage and buy through this approach Netflix is most famous for. What is that Netflix approach?  Do we really want to be like Netflix for learning?  Is it the ease of access, the AI or machine learning, navigated paths or something else.  When I think about what learners need, it’s not a one size fits all… and it varies depending on specific business needs.  Now, do the principles behind Netflix apply to bring learning to life in an engaging and almost habit forming way .. YES!

I want you to reflect on your latest visit to a store (when we weren’t running in and out hand sanitizing out of the store without touching or engaging with people). You remember back then… What were you attracted to?  Was it the promotional item on the end of the aisle? Did you choose it because it was in line of sight or looked like a good deal? Or did someone give you a sample to try?  Did you buy the sample because it smelled and tasted good? Of course you did.  These techniques used in stores have been transformed to online techniques to entice people to consume without use of all senses. This is how Netflix has dominated the senseless attraction to consume.  How one attracts people to consume is an important tactic to understand to tune into what’s important to learners.  This is essential to understand a learner’s optimal learning experience.  Now think about going into a tech store thinking about those wonderful shiny objects.  Yes, those sparkling and highly marketed ways you are enticed to buy based on feeling and not so much on your needs. Don’t worry, we all get sucked into this, no shame here. 

Understanding what attracts learners will help you develop a mindset you must have when you are looking to be the Netflix of Learning or anything else that is trending.  I’ll give you some easy steps to ensure you understand what you are buying and don’t drop your wallet into quick sand of unneeded tech.  

So how do you uncover the secret tech of what makes Netflix popular and sought after as the go-to for binge watching. It’s broken down into four areas.  Netflix has mastered the machine learning algorithms that help them understand:

  • Who you are
  • What you’ve consumed in the past
  • What you might enjoy next 
  • Ties consumption to your core interests

Now you say, whoa is this big brother watching me like Alexa or Siri in the room responding when no one requests her? I know each of you can relate.  While machine learning and AI have evolved and has helped enable us to do more with less time and enabled life-changing accessibility features, the technology in the learning tech industry is still evolving.  So how do you find what’s closest to that Netflix learning experience, is it one thing or a combination?  How do you decipher when tech is just a dressed up pig with lipstick?

The first step of this journey is to understand your business requirements.  We created a lovely checklist to help you begin to articulate your learning experience vision past – I want to be the Netflix of Learning.

  • Who are your learners?
    • Are your learners managers, colleagues, members or customers?
    • Where are your learners located? Do they go to an office or remote or a mix of both?
    • How many of your learners work with customers face to face?
  • What experience do your learners expect?
    • How do you want your learners to engage?
    • How will you recognize their achievements?
    • Do your learners prefer training in their language of choice?
    • Do you have a digital accessibility policy?
  • What are your goals and intended outcome for the learners?
  • What are your technology principles?
  • What technology do you have in place today?
    • How is the technology used today? What is the adoption rate? How is customer satisfaction?
    • Are there gaps in your technology architecture?
    • Do you have a learning tech strategy?
  • How will you support your learning tech?
    • Does your organization have a learning function or dedicated learning team?
    • Do you have technical expertise in your learning function? Or do you rely on internal IT resources?
  • How will you measure its success?

Congratulations on the first step in becoming the Netflix of Learning. Next, let’s learn a little more about what machine learning is according to Wikipedia:

  • is the study of computer algorithms that improve automatically through experience.
  • a subfield of artificial intelligence
  • intuitive algorithms that take content and disseminate based on a search query or other factors like popularity, history of consumption, ratings or reviews.
  • using algorithms that discover patterns and generate insights from exposed data for application to future decision-making and predictions.

Now you know what machine learning/AI is, it’s important to understand the types of machine learning that Netflix uses:

  • Supervised Learning is a task of learning that maps out-ins and outputs which are trained with the correct answer to see if it results with the same answer.   Netflix uses this algorithm to understand what you have watched (a data point) and responds to your selection to consume recommendations of new movies or Netflix originals you have never watched.
  • Netflix unsupervised machine learning algorithm is how a person’s addiction to watch Netflix original shows. The hope is that through mimicry, the machine is forced to build a compact internal representation of its world (Wikipedia).  Compared to supervised learning, there are no data points presented and the machine learns from your choice to select these recommendations therefore building a binge-worthy line-up of viewing opportunities.
  • Let’s say you are a new customer.  There is no viewing history.  Reinforcement learning, a type of supervised learning, describes how intelligent consumers ought to take actions in an environment in order to maximize the notion of cumulative reward (Wikipedia).  This is a technique where Netflix suggests for you a couple movies based on what most people may choose. As long as you continue to consume these recommendations it will reward you with similar options until you fail to act on it. 

Let’s look at how these align to learning.  These are the algorithm types to enable a learning experience that can make recommendations based on history, predict what you would like to learn, and entice you to continue to consume through creating a habit of continuous learning – that is the Netflix of Learning experience.  

To learn more about what I referenced in this article, please visit What Machine Learning Algorithm Does Netflix Use

Why is all this important?

In a Cornerstone survey of workers, 83 percent believed it is essential to improve their professional skills and 53 percent aren’t sure they have the skills to withstand a future layoff. This means that there is a unique opportunity for learning leaders to think differently about how learning is experienced and fostered to build a continuous learning culture.  Could some of the learnings from Netflix apply to how learners learn … YES!

What do I do to get started?

Enlist a trusted partner to work with you on your learning tech strategy, so you too can design your version of the Netflix of Learning experience that meets the needs of your organization.  If you would like to learn more about the services we provide, let’s have a chat because together WeLearn.

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