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What Netflix Research Teaches Us About Student Study Habits

October 05, 2015

There was a time when it was embarrassing to admit you stocked up on enough snacks and Diet Coke to carry you through a full day of watching your favorite show. That time is over.

Binge watching is the new normal according to research from Netflix, TiVo and even Mediasite customers who stream and archive lectures.

Netflix has just released its second round of data on the topic in as many years, now pinpointing the exact moment subscribers get hooked on a show and go on to watch the entire first season in one sitting.

In 2013 the company published a study revealing that 61 percent of streaming television users binge on their shows, with 73 percent “feeling great about it.”

And earlier this year TiVo released its own survey results, claiming 92 percent of respondents reported having binge-watched, defined as viewing more than three episodes of a series in one day.

“Binge watching has really taken off due to a perfect storm of better TV, our current economic climate and the digital explosion of the last few years,” said Grant McCracken, cultural anthropologist who partnered with Netflix on the research. “And now that services like Netflix have given consumers control over their TV viewing, they have declared a new way to watch.”

On-Demand Lectures
Students at University of Maryland School of Dentistry have made that declaration with Mediasite lectures and moved the consumer-viewing trend into the classroom. The students’ ability to customize their educational experience by viewing lectures on-demand helps them figure out how to learn at their own pace, in their own style and successfully compete in the top 10-ranked program.

Blog_student-sitting-laptop-backpack“Our Mediasite analytics show that just before exams is a hot time to watch lectures,” said James Craig, professor and educational technology consultant at the Dental School, which has been streaming lectures with Mediasite since 2005. “The ability to speed up the playback enables them to cover a lot of content rather quickly, so they’re able to get the information they need before an exam.”

Lecture capture has helped the school turn the tables on traditional teaching and learning, and in the process cultivate more engaged, successful and higher-performing students.

“If not for lecture capture, I wouldn’t have the same GPA or the same detailed understanding of many of my courses,” said one student.

Part of what makes these trends so compelling it that they give us a glimpse into the ways higher-education can use Mediasite Analytics to gauge – and even predict – student success as they attempt to master a very intense curriculum.

“You can look at the exam results and see that they’re performing, and they’re also graduating,”  Craig said. “We’re able to see instances where students end up watching a lecture two or three times to get the information.”

The University of Leeds is seeing similar trends in viewing habits.

“We had over 100,000 views just in January, and that was because we had an examination period,” said Neil Morris, Director of Digital Learning at the University.

But at Leeds, as in many of the other 1400 colleges and universities that use Mediasite for lecture capture, the value goes beyond the exam crunch-time. “There is consistent usage of the recordings during term time as well as during the examination periods. We’re consistently getting over 40,000 views a month, which means students are watching these recordings during the teaching session. While they’re attending lectures, while they’re not doing exams, they are using them as part of their ongoing study.”

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