E-learning: Why employees expect a Netflix experience

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Employees are used to intuitive interfaces and services such as Netflix knowing what they might like. Skillsoft’s Steve Wainwright investigates how e-learning platforms can use such consumer experiences to create a community of learners who keep coming back.

You might think it odd to compare Netflix, the world’s leading streaming TV network, to a corporate e-learning platform.

But, believe it or not, HR and L&D leaders can learn a lot about implementing a successful e-learning programme by looking at Netflix, and the qualities that have made it so successful.

While the likes of Stranger Things and Breaking Bad have been crucial in boosting Netflix’s popularity, it is the platform itself that has cemented its success.

Great content and critically acclaimed programmes drive people to subscribe, and the easy-to-use, engaging platform keeps them coming back. To put it bluntly, if programmes were hard to find or the interface was archaic and unappealing, Netflix would not be so successful.

Intuitive and personalised

The same applies for learning platforms. A successful e-learning platform will offer the intuitive, personalised characteristics of Netflix.

Many employers struggle to get their employees engaged with e-learning programmes – with 60% of e-learning courses failing historically, according to a recent Skillsoft and Towards Maturity report.

What these employers don’t realise is that, rather than changing their learning content, they might need to change their platform.

The “consumerisation of learning” – the recognition that employers must treat their learners as consumers – means modern corporate learning platforms should be a cut above the bland content databases of the past.

What makes a great platform?

Curated content

In the recent Skillsoft and Towards Maturity report, more than one in four learners said they struggled to find the content they need on their e-learning platform.

Imagine downloading Netflix and being unable to locate Stranger Things? You wouldn’t be too happy. Similarly, if a worker can’t find the video he or she needs – or is overwhelmed by too much content and doesn’t know where to start – they are unlikely to use the e-learning platform on a regular basis.

Modern workers are time-pressed. If a learner has to spend precious minutes locating the content they need, rather than actually learning, this will have a negative effect on both their engagement with the platform, and their productivity.

A typical learner in an organisation could have access to thousands of courses, books, videos, games, simulations, and more to grow their careers.

Variety of content is important, but if it’s not organised and easily accessible it will not serve its purpose. True content curation saves learners time, provides useful context, increases productivity and ultimately makes training more valuable.

A well-curated platform will:

  • Give each learner personalised learning content that is relevant to his/her career path and/or training needs
  • Make it easy for learners to discover useful information that aligns with their interests
  • Use elastic search – as seen on the likes of Facebook and Netflix – so that learners can quickly find the content they need

Intuitive navigation

The beauty of Netflix is that someone can use it for the first time and easily find their way around. You don’t need a manual or training to use the platform; it is intuitive. E-learning should be the same.

Best-of-breed e-learning platforms will have the same style of consumer-focused interface as the likes of Netflix and Facebook. They are easy-to-use, attractive and modern. They should offer a natural and familiar transition from entertainment at home to learning at work.

Personalised and self-directed ethos

Organisations implementing a one-size-fits-all approach to training are missing a trick.

Every employee is different and has a different learning style – be it via video, reading or taking quizzes. A strong e-learning platform will provide a wealth of learning modalities, so that every individual can learn in the way that suits them.

Furthermore, learning platforms should work similarly to Netflix in the way you can pause a show, log-off and later log-on again and resume your show right where you left off.

It is also advisable to offer micro-learning content: courses broken up into bite-size chunks so that learners can make their way through training at a reasonable and self-directed pace, when and where they choose.


The most innovative e-learning platforms will also learn about employees, in the same way as Netflix learns about its viewers based on the programmes they’ve already watched.

Some learning platforms are able to recommend content and courses to learners based on what other employees within their role are doing, or on content they’ve viewed before. As machine learning continues to develop, both consumer and corporate platforms will provide even better, more relevant user experiences.

The Netflix experience shows us that for e-learning, it will be the platform that wins the war.

Today’s learners need a modern, engaging and intuitive platform – one that focuses on engagement, and offers relevant, curated content. Offer this, and you can ensure your business feels the benefits of your learning investment.

Steve Wainwright

About Steve Wainwright

Steve Wainwright is managing director for EMEA at Skillsoft
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