Netflix has something for everyone, from 20-year-old sitcoms we’ve all forgotten, to brand new series derived from steamy romance novels. No matter who you are or what you like, there’s a Netflix show for you. It’s no wonder that learning companies want to be the Netflix of eLearning, but it takes more than just having a catalog of eLearning products.
Off-the-shelf content is indeed where Netflix started. They contracted existing shows and movies from everyone from the big studios like Warner Brothers and Disney to small independent producers. Before long, their competitors started doing the exact same thing. It was an easy model to repeat.
Netflix learned that if they wanted to stand out among their competitors, they had to offer something their competitors didn’t. Exclusive streaming rights with their content partners helped, but the only way to truly stand out was to create their own, original content. Of course, it’s not enough to just make content—the content has to be entertaining…and people have to actually want to watch it.
So, if we’re trying to replicate Netflix in eLearning, it’s nice to have a catalog of decent, off-the-shelf products that fit a variety of learning needs; but, that alone will never make you the Netflix of eLearning. You have to create content that stands out among the competition, which means you have to invest in your creative team.
To start, you need strong graphic artists and video producers. How do you know if your graphic artists are strong enough for your Netflix aspirations? Well, if you ask them to create a graphic for a specific purpose, and their first thought is to download something from a stock photography website and plug it in place, they aren’t strong enough. You need artists who can create custom graphics that make learning feel polished, cohesive, and personal. Your graphics shouldn’t look like everyone else’s graphics—they should be original.
The same goes with your video production. Is everything you produce from the same templates you’ve used for the last five years? Can your producers create new text effects or intros/outros from their own materials? If your videos look like everyone else’s, your Netflix dreams will be short-lived.
Now, don’t run out and fire your graphic designers and video producers because they aren’t making original content. Instead, help them upskill. Challenge them to create original work and support them with training to gain the skills they need. It’s worth the investment.
Creativity isn’t just for your graphic artists or video producers. If you’re going to be the Netflix of eLearning, you have to create a culture of creativity on all levels. That means your content writers have to step up their game to create content in a way that people actually want to read it/watch it/learn it. Your instructional designers have to shift their thinking to demand a new focus on true learner engagement, and not just information delivery.
It means being willing to talk to learners to hear what they actually need and want. What does your learner feedback tell you about your current learning? Likely, they’re asking for more learning games and chances to practice, but also more media—and they don’t mean talking head videos.
Becoming the Netflix of eLearning takes a paradigm shift. It means constantly exploring new technologies, being open to new ideas, and seeking to connect with the learner meaningfully. It means allowing creativity to flow from everyone involved in creating your learning products. It means setting high expectations for your team to create stunning, original content that no one else can replicate.