Binge learning

From Eli Dourado at The mlaut: “Binge Learning is Online Educations Killer App”.

Binge viewing is so common that it is now beginning to affect the production of television shows. Increasingly, shows are made for bingeing. They have more intricate plots and recapitulate fewer past plot points. Viewers give the shows their undivided attention, and writers and producers respond with better TV.
I thought of these facts this past weekend when I tried an online course for the first time. Because I wanted to brush up on my programming skills, I signed up for a Udacity computer science class on Friday. I was drawn in by the fact that there were no deadlinesI could put the class off if I got too busy for it. This concern was somewhat unwarranted, as I had finished half the class by Sunday evening. I realized that I had bingedon a class.

The concept of “binge learning” seems a useful addition to the conversation about online learning. One issue about MOOCs pointed out by several commentators has been that an “open course” and “open materials” are different issues, that have different strengths. Having materials totally open means that a student is free to race through them as fast (or take as long) as desired. Open materials allow binge learning.

An “open course” means that anyone can enroll in it. But the materials may be timed so that they are available only at particular times, and they may be restricted in access only to enrolled or registered students. Many students in an open course may find themselves unable to keep up with the pace of instruction. Others may be willing to work much faster, but the organization of the course may restrain them from binging on the material. It’s the comparison of watching a television series broadcast week by week, instead of watching an entire season over the weekend on Netflix.