Transforming Academic Articles from Positive Psychology
into Entertaining Video Clips
3 Featured Videos:
STUDY via STORY
WELLNESS ARTICLES TURNED VIDEO
The Friendship Challange
Ever heard of Hat Day?
Story based on scientific articles about social support. Read more about these studies...
...Will you take it?!
Medieval Europe was a cuddly place
Based on scientific articles on Touch.
Translating experience into health
Do secrets make you sick?
Based on scientific articles on Expressive
Thoughts from the producer
My given name, ‘Shalhavit-Simcha’, means ‘Flame of Happiness’ in Hebrew; I was told that there is some prophecy in naming a child; looking for ways to promote happiness, could be therefore my destiny. But above all, it is a role that I chose.
As I journeyed through different cultures I noticed that what mostly caught my attention was personal hardship and depression and that my main efforts were to bring hope and happiness, strengthening motivation and resiliency. I focused on self responsibility, awareness and commitment to one’s own well being. When painful situations grew frequent i.e. friends killed in the army, and seeing hardships in my volunteer helping of poor societies during the war I began recognizing my most urgent calling in life: To help others, and myself, learn tools of improvement, better living, promote overall well being and happiness. The applications of Positive Psychology to improving the performance and the quality of work life were immediate and clear.
When I came to Harvard seven years ago as part of my work with Dr Tal Ben-Shahar, teacher of the popular Happiness Class, my life mission began unfolding: to bring this and other cutting edge knowledge to people who don't have access to Academia or, in Tal’s words, "bring it out of the ivory tower into main street". My dedication now is to reach the young adults like the ones in the social groups I used to volunteer with in Israel, those who don't often read books but watch television and computer screens.
I've been lucky to have had Cynthia Fenneman, the president of American Public Television as my mentor and advisor. I then produced my own local cable access show to develop my production skills, networked a lot, and tried different educational video formats on YouTube, which led to meeting twice with MTV in New York, negotiating with Oprah’s channel, and most important to me - meeting with the founders of Sesame Street. I want to follow in their footsteps and make education fun for grownups too by transforming academic content into a more attractive format of video. Where I find myself currently on my journey is working to further develop my skills by having enrolled in the Digital Media and Instructional Design MA here at Harvard’s DCE. I spent much time working at MIT’s EDx platform with a mission statement of “Making the next best MOOC”. This is exactly what I want – to develop a platform that is free, exciting, effective and reaches many. Our previous course “15.390x: Entrepreneurship 101 “Who Is Your Customer” had over 55,000 registered students and received a lot of media attention because of our unique entertaining teaching style.
During the past five years I submerged myself in planning an educational way to successfully influence society on a large scale. Thereupon I am in the midst of exploring different presentation formats which primarily entertain, thus reaching a big audience, and secondly educating-markedly giving the research of Positive psychology, giving it a leveraged platform. Namely on my board are Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar and Dr. Ellen Langer, who are leading voices in the field as I came to neighbor Harvard. They both believe in me and in this mission and are my beacons of light.
This capstone project ”Turning Academic Articles into Video” using wellness articles, is one of my steps in the direction of making a positive difference. I strive to reach even larger scales of audience and influence more people for the better, by providing this and more invaluable helpful research, and channeling it through platforms that are entertaining and enjoyable, and therefore easy to reach.
“...I argue that part of the problem with today’s video education is that professors are not always entertainers. A way to resolve this is by utilizing professional actors.
Let professional screenwriters write the screenplay. Let cinematographers do their magic with a camera. And let the actors use their skill and natural talent to create a high quality, attractive and engaging experience for the learner that will be educating, entertaining and memorable.
The professors need not stretch their comfort zone to try and perform something that is not at their skill level. Let the professors do what they are good at: research and articles. Let them be the content supervisors for the videos.
I believe that production value can add a lot to the entire learning process.”
(– excerpt from my Thesis Proposal).
You can enjoy watching a story and obtain some important knowledge.
We understand that there are many types of learners such as us visual learners. Today’s web platform offers a lot of visual entertainment which can sometimes distract us instead of educate. We aim to create here another channel for academic education through visual shorts in order to reach more of an audience. This is done by transforming long articles written in scientific jargon into short and entertaining videos, and by so doing, draw listener attention to reach the end of the videos (and lesson). Hopefully accidental learners will be drawn as well (viewers who may stumble upon those on the internet/YouTube).
Like to learn,
but don't always want to read?
This project features three academic articles in the field of wellness psychology, and executes them into screenplays to produce short films, the content being supervised by professors of the selected topics. The particular problem in presenting themes in psychology is that the message is more complex that simple scientific facts and must be personalized by the student. We hope that you both learn from, and enjoy, these video articles!
DON'T BE SHY
...it's a generational thing.
Our videos are based on psychological research. Like other science studies, results are a statistic meaning: "this is what works for MOST people". And as with anything, stay critical, and remember that what is IMPORTANT is that you TAKE AWAY WHAT WORKS FOR Y O U.
This project repackages academic articles from text into a new kind of format, aiming to be more engaging than those offered by universities’ current video education (I.e. EDx, Coursera). My goal is to reach both accidental learners (viewers who may stumble upon those on the internet/YouTube) and improve the experience of dedicated learners as well.
Today's millennial learners have shorter span of and a competition on their attention. In the format proposed, the professor need not be present, but is necessary only to monitor its content. In the current formats offered in academic video education (EDx/ Coursera/ NoVoED/ Khan Academy etc) the scientist must present his research either in person (like the ‘talking head’ see glossary ) or voiceover. After conducting hundreds of user interviews and research on the EDx platform I propose a new style of short (<5 min), entertaining story-video format.
The hypothesis is that many learners of the traditional video education do not reach the end of the video due to lack of entertainment throughout the video. Replacing the scientist with a story actor gives a lot more freedom to entertain and whet the observers appetite to get to the end of the presentation. Use of storytelling, comedy, screenwriting, actors, animation, camera, after effects and good production value will help achieve this goal. The innovation is the use of professional actors throughout instead of integrating the scientist in the video.
I would like to take the challenge and make academic educational videos entirely entertaining where students enjoy each video as Sesame Street was for children: Fun AND educational. Something they can watch with friends. For fun. AND learning.
First was selecting the important messages and information in the academic articles. Those bullet points are then used to create a story screenplay which weaves the information as it unfolds. In this case the messages are revealed inside the story itself, the dialogue, thoughts (character's voice-over) and text within the video. Casting of actors includes discussion about and rehearsal of the emotions and struggle related to the story, so the viewer can associate and relate with the lead actor. The rest of the information, recapping or expanding on the science and practical how-to’s then can be overlaid in post production text over the video itself. Each webisode has a recurring intro title, to quickly explain what it is about, and ends with an open ended question about what will the user do with this information. And finally a recurring outtro with the website linked in order to share further resources.