Creating ‘binge-worthy’ elearning

Elearning can be the most exciting part of your business: Fact.

Is it currently the most exciting part of your business? Probably not. (But it should be!)

By modelling our courses on the highly saturated, media rich world we live in, we can design learning that learners want to ‘binge’ on.  To transform perceptions of eLearning, we must consider the difference between elearning (that our learners see as a boring, mandatory exercise) and something they enjoy, such as watching Netflix or browsing social media.

So, why do we feel the way we do, when we feel good?

For the purpose of this explanation, I’m going to focus on the modern concept of ‘binge watching’ TV. A concept that most of us will be familiar with: sitting down to watch one episode, and the next thing you know you’re on episode five. (Don’t worry, you’re not alone, a Netflix survey found that nearly 61% of users regularly watch between 2 and 6 episodes in one sitting!)

We wouldn’t ‘binge watch’ if it didn’t make us feel good, so why does it make us feel good?

When we take part in an activity we enjoy, our brain produces dopamine – the ‘feel good hormone’. The production of dopamine causes you to continue to take part in the activity, i.e. watch another episode.


But what is it about modern TV series/Movies that cause us to binge?

So, we now know that it’s dopamine that makes us feel good while we’re ‘binge watching’ TV. But we also know the dopamine is only released when we’re doing something we enjoy. So what is it about these TV series that make us want to binge?

Well, it’s easy to assume that modern series are considerably better than those released a number of years ago, because we hear so frequently of people binging on them. However that isn’t the case. The difference today is we have:

  • The technology to facilitate binge watching (i.e. quality of technology, the number of devices we have access to, the sheer existence of the likes of Netflix).
  • The platforms that facilitate word-of-mouth sharing, such as Twitter and Facebook. (Most of the series I’ve ended up watching have been due to a recommendation on Twitter, or another social platform.)
  • A wider choice of what we watch, or interact with on a daily basis (for example, in the 60s and 70s, there was only 3 TV channels, dramatically limiting the choice of what to watch).

As learning designers, we should want our learners to have access to the courses they want, when they want it (technology – check!) We should want our learning content to be good enough that our learners want to share their experiences (word-of-mouth – check!) But unfortunately we still need to contend with the wide array of digital mediums out there, battling for our learners attention. We aren’t competing with one or two, well defined competitors – we’re competing with thousands of TV shows, radio channels and TV streams, all uniquely appealing to each individual learner.

As such, we’re  in direct competition with organisations with multi-million pound budgets; with hundreds of people working on one form of media; with one aim: to grab attention. But, this competition isn’t fair. The majority of elearning developers are either a one man band, or if you’re really lucky, you may have a small team. But you’ll be hard pressed to find an elearning development team who have as much resource, capacity or money as a movie production crew.


But what if we based our elearning courses on movies?

What if we took inspiration from those films that stormed the box office, and took their stories to convey a message through our eLearning courses?

How about using:

  • ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ as inspiration for a corporate induction course?
  • The 2319 scene from ‘Monsters Inc.’ as inspiration for healthy & safety training?
  • Pixar’s ‘Up’ for inspiration for your next conflict management course?


Or if we took design inspiration from our frequently used apps?

The learning technology world has likened LMS interfaces to Netflix for a number of years now, but what if we took that one step further, and used this global digital language in our elearning design? Think Facebook, Instagram, even the McDonald’s ordering screens. They’re all intuitive, easy-to-use and our learners are familiar with them.

See, inspiration is all around us.


You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, model excellence.

One of the quickest ways to achieve excellence is to model it. Where you’ve seen something that someone’s already done, successfully, just model it. There truly is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Here at Cursim, we practice what we preach, and we have some examples to share with you:


Anti-bribery training inspired by Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

If you haven’t seen Bandersnatch – watch it! It’s a user controlled movie, giving the viewer the chance to direct the outcome, by selecting options throughout.

We’ve modelled an upcoming course about Anti bribery and Corruption training on this movie, using branched scenarios in Storyline 360, illustrations to convey time and place, and characters that would resonate with the learner. Check out the example here:



Service standards training inspired by music apps

Almost everybody listens to music on their smart phone these days, and almost all of the music apps follow one global language. When targeting a certain demographic, in our case employees of David Lloyd Leisure, we want to create a design that resonates with them. In the example below, you’ll see the menu of their course is designed to look like a music app, and dubbed ‘The Gym Playlist’.


So there you have it, some ‘real world’ elearning examples, based on ‘real world’ inspiration. If you want your next elearning project to truly have the ‘wow’ factor, get in touch – we’d love to help you.