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Netflix-like bingeable College Curriculum? ( Part1)

23 Sep
college student studying on laptop

Make it engaging from the first week. An immersive, Netflix-like bingeable experience.” That was the directive we received from our client, the Innovation Lab of a major university when they chose Enspire Learning to help them rethink their online curriculum delivery. They wanted to differentiate themselves from other colleges and universities and take their online curriculum to the next level–actually, far exceed the next level. They wanted to crank up the engagement factor quite a few decibels. They wanted students to be talking about the learning experiences the next day, the next week, the next month. And oh yes, the experience needed to stay true to the curriculum requirements.

This post is the first of several that highlight the innovation journey as we strategized on how the learning experiences are presented and how they could be presented. We explored what student’s can discover on their own and at their own pace, and how to keep track of everyone, their progress, their successes and their struggles.

Our Analysis – What We Learned

The Innovation Lab experience revealed valuable information about what each stakeholder in the process wanted for the future of university.

From the staff we heard:

  • “Differentiate or curriculum from other online programs”
  • “Provide a student experience that is new, unparalleled, forward thinking, exciting in new ways, not just to be different”
  • “Bring content, story, and assessment together”
  • “Make it engaging from the first week. An immersive, Netflix-like bingeable experience”
  • “Every moment has to bring them what they need in that moment”

From the students we heard:

  • “Too much content at too rapid a pace hinders the full comprehension of material”
  • “It is challenging to connect some concepts with real-world applications
  • “We need easy-access refreshers on the most challenging topics”
  • “We’d like more interactivity and hand-on experiences”
  • “We need ready access to resources, study aids, and learning options”

HIIT Sprinting

We knew going in that this redesign wasn’t going to be a linear project. We knew the Innovation Lab  would take us in many directions, require rethinking along the way and adapting quickly and positively to change.  

We determined that the best way to approach rethinking curriculum delivery was in sprints—short, intense bursts of effort designed to accomplish a single task. We’d then test and analyze where we were before beginning the next sprint. We were moving High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) out of the gym and into the university.

First subject:  Pathophysiology

We decided to work out our innovation theories on a test subject.  Our choice subject is a mouthful: Pathophysiology.  The course description is more-so:  “Nursing students will learn to correlate basic physiological functions with the abnormal occurrence of disease when homeostasis is disrupted. Topics include physical responses to injury, disturbances of homeostasis in major body systems, and both physical and chemical stressors.”

Traditional teaching uses long lectures and detailed textbooks to explain the interrelation between pathology and physiology–about how symptoms of disease (pathology) are related to the way diseases develop in the human body (physiology).  But that’s not always the best way to learn.

From Sprints to Binges

There are a lot of elements to the learning experience, but in the end it all boils down to making learning interesting and exciting.  In the words of our Innovation Lab partners: “binge-worthy.” People binge-watch their favorite shows all the time, and we wanted a learning experience that was so engaging that students would want to move on to the next lesson as soon as possible. .  Thus our target was binge-learning . . . of Pathophysiology content. A big, exciting challenge. 

In our next blog post, we’ll share what team collaboration in an innovation lab mindset,  and designing using agile sprints  are doing to ensure we produce binge-worthy lessons.  

Dwight Johnson