Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Do We Really Need to Dumb Down Cliff Notes?

AOL and Mark Burnett announced yesterday that they are partnering to convert CliffNotes to a series of humorous videos. You can read more about it here.

In today's YouTube world, it's not surprising to see this type of venture. But it's a said reflection of today's society and how kids learn.

I know CliffNotes are supposed to be supplemental to the original book; but in reality, many students substitute them for actually reading the book.

As full disclosure, I picked up a few CliffNotes in my younger days. And, I have even watched a few blockbuster movies, such as DaVinci Code, in lieu of reading the actual novel.

Setting aside how this supports AOL's content strategy, this concept truly reflects the dumbing down of America.

We are telling kids you don't even need to read at all! Just watch the video before your test.

What's more, they have to make it humorous for kids to want to engage the content apparently.

Lastly, they're creating 2 lengths: 5 minute and 1 minute versions. The 1 minute version must be for those with truly short attention spans, I guess.

It will probably boil down to execution and how tasteful these will be done. And it'll probably drive video advertising. But I remain skeptical that this helps solve America's education gap.


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