cliff’s notes…video?

22 Oct

Even if you are a lit nerd, or you just plain like to read, or you though it was your duty to actually read every novel possible for your AP test, I’m sure that at some point or another in high school (or even college), you’ve turned to your trusty pal Cliff and his notes. Though I was a good and mostly honest student, it can be hard to finish those six chapters you’ve been putting off when you’ve got homework for other classes, friends, practices, extracurricular activities, hobbies, and chores. (And sometimes, I was just lazy.)

So, more than once,  I went clicking to Cliff’s Notes online, where I could be quickly brought up to speed (CoughJane EyreCough). Maybe I’m a little late, but today, I made the discovery of Cliff’s Notes videos! So far, the videos just cover some of Shakespeare’s classics, which is probably a big relief for a lot of students out there.  As I watched though, the pros and cons of the Cliff’s videos concept made themselves obvious.

There’s plenty good about the videos, which are animated, very easy to follow and funny. They actually do encompass all of the material, and even do manage to sneak in some of the more important original quotes. They even highlight themes, motifs and characters.

There are some bad elements too, like the advertising. Since the video’s are free, of course there has to be someone way to pay for them, and for anyone who enjoys free online services, ads have just become part of the norm. However, while watching the Othello video, there was an animated guy who popped in, and took a moment to advertise for the upcoming movie about Shakespeare, Anonymous. While these was integrated into the video, it was still distracting and took me out of the story they’d spent a few minutes crafting.

But my biggest issue is with the actual concept. Is this even lazier than reading Cliff’s Notes? Now we’re not even asking students to read a brief webpage–instead, they get to watch an animated short, and be in the know about the play?

When reading Cliff’s Notes, there’s already no magic left in the play. You’re just getting the basics so you can pass your quiz (or, given Shakespeare, just comprehend what’s going on). But at least the Cliff’s Notes can really highlight all of the magical quotes, the grand monologues, and all of the words and phrases the world never knew before this guy wrote his plays. There are moments in his plays that a little cartoon can’t capture.

 

Basically, though I have some reservations about these videos, they’re not really any worse that the regular Cliff’s Notes. They’re cool, witty and short. I’d say, use them like you would the regular Cliff’s Notes: They’ll get you an understanding, but they won’t get you an A.

 

What do you think? Cool, or lazy or both? Leave comment so we can discuss!

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