Avoiding format-preference silos

By Chris Littlewood

1 minute read

We often get asked whether we select or prioritise for format preferences - video, article, podcast, course etc - in our learning recommendations.

"Can I set a preference so I only see video?" or "If I browse more articles, will they feature more frequently in my recommendations in future?".

The answer is: not directly. We aim to make recommendations based on the value of the capabilities they will build in the learner. We prefer to give the learner the choice as to format at the point of learning. We did a little analysis of user-choices to show why.

As an example, this chart shows the distribution of users according to the proportion of video content they view. The first bar shows that a little over 25% of magpie users view no video. But most users are more catholic in preference and work their way through a mix of video, articles, courses etc.


Offering learners the choice of format at the point of learning allows them to select a shape of content that fits the opportunity: a gap in the schedule, a commute, or a supported task, as I wrote about previously.

We see format preferences shift over the course of the working day and week. The 'share of activity' on podcasts peaks at 5-6pm - on the commute. Podcast share is 75% higher than average during that hour.  Video's share is at its strongest 5-8pm. Articles show a peak in share very early in the morning (6-7am).

So rather than select format algorithmically, we'll carry on offering a choice of format, giving the learner control of filtering to find the medium that suits their immediate need. To help with this we've recently added a filter so learners can drill-down into their recommendations by the medium of the recommendation but also according to length of time or by publisher of the content.

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