If you haven’t watched the US TV series, Suits please do yourself a favour. If you are a fan, you know how addictive it is. I don’t watch much TV but in only 10 days over Christmas and New Year I managed to watch the first four series of the show. I maintained a solid pace, watching numerous hours each day. I was completely taken in.

My binge viewing offered a brief escape from the busy year that was coming to an end and the one about to commence. The weather was near 40 degrees some days so air conditioning and a comfortable couch was a very appealing combination. Besides, everyone else in the family was busy doing their own thing so I didn’t feel in any way guilty about my indulgence. In fact, I celebrated it.

The show revolves around a talented university drop out, Mike Ross who works as an junior lawyer at a well-known New York law firm despite never attending law school. Every other employee in the firm graduated from the Law School at Harvard University and all wear it like a badge of honour. Mike and his boss, Harvey Specter manage to win almost every case while maintaining Mike’s secret. Because Mike knows nothing about legal framework and precedents, he devours volumes of case history and whole reference books in a single sitting. Mike Ross is a Zen Master of binge learning!

When it comes to ‘real world’ learning & development we see that some people tend to binge as well.

Often it’s a new staffer completing an on-line induction that gets through their allotted modules in quick time or the store manager who churns through 10 product knowledge modules in one sitting.

It also happens with continued professional development. It’s human nature to leave things to the last minute and a large percentage of people wait until a few weeks (or even just days) until their deadline to start accumulating their CPD points.

We’ve recently started offering CPD accreditation for Registered Nurses through our Care Youni website (www.careyouni.com.au) and knew a large number of nurses would wait until the last six week window of a 12 month qualification period to start earning their credits, which is exactly what’s happening.

Does binge learning have a place? Does the quantity and speed at which someone learns have an impact or effect on what they retain or how engaged they are?

There’s certainly evidence to suggest it does no harm.

One of the most prestigious universities in the world, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) says allowing students to learn online at their own pace has resulted in significant improvements in student engagement.

MIT Chancellor for Academic Advancement, Eric Grimson says around 90 per cent of MIT students took at least one class through the university’s online platform, Open edX in 2016.

He highlighted a 500 student chemistry class that used blended learning (online courses replaced lectures but compulsory face-to-face tutorials were retained) coupled with an online assessment that had nearly eliminated poorly performing students.

“Normally, in a conventionally taught class, 50 to 70 students would be ‘fifth week flagged’, that is, identified in the fifth week of term as being in danger of failing,” he explained.

“When the course was delivered online that number dropped to just three. It’s only one data point but it’s an impressive one,” he said.

Allowing students to determine their own pace of learning and the time they learn is a no-brainer really.

To me, it comes down to three things: availability, flexibility and great content.

Sure, deadlines are a great incentive to achieve milestones but, assuming there is a fluid deadline or none at all, it boils down to how compelling and relevant the courseware is.

Would you binge watch a show that had weak story lines, bad editing and poor acting?

The reason why complete series of programs such as Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones are watched over a few days is because of the wonderful character development, great cinematography and the fact that each episode ends with a twist.

And most importantly … it’s readily accessible and available 24/7/365 across multiple platforms.

Comments are closed.