CliffsNotes Get An Animated Web Series, Procrastinating Students Rejoice!

Today procrastinating students don’t even have to read the CliffsNotes to prepare for class—they can watch them! CliffsNotes, AOL, Coalition Films and Survivor producer Mark Burnett have teamed up to launch a CliffsNotes animated web series.

CliffsNotes have been a best friend to the procrastinating student for decades.  Designed as overviews and classic book companions, CliffsNotes are often used to cram for tests on books that students just didn’t get around to reading, as they are much shorter than the actual books and include all the most pertinent information.  Now, procrastinating students don’t even have to read the CliffsNotes to prepare for class—they can watch them!  CliffsNotes, AOL, Coalition Films and Survivor producer Mark Burnett have teamed up to launch a CliffsNotes animated web series.

The CliffsNotes web series presents classic literature in 6-minute episodes.  To start, they’ve released a number of Shakespeare’s plays including Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, Othello, Macbeth, and Hamlet, and they plan to expand with videos of other classic literature.  Check out the promo for the animated Shakespeare CliffsNotes below.  You can watch all the CliffsNotes Films on Cambio.com, the teen entertainment site created by the Jonas Brothers.

The CliffsNotes Films are narrated by an animated dude named Cliff (“Hi, I’m Cliff, and these are my notes!”), who provides context, talks about themes and provides thought provoking questions as the story is told.  Viewers can hold their mouse over the screen for additional notes and info, such as the names of the characters, locations and more.  Of course, you can’t get the same amount of knowledge from a 6-minute video that you can by reading the actual book, but it’s a start.  I wouldn’t recommend that students rely on these videos (which are mostly fluff) for passing a test, but I do think that they could serve as a good introductory overview before a student starts reading the book.

Mark Burnett told Entertainment Weekly’s Shelf Life, “There’s no question that there’s no replacement for reading the actual books.  But kids do use CliffsNotes worldwide, no question about it.  It amazed me that there was no digital version of these CliifsNotes.”

What do you think of the idea of a CliffsNotes animated web series?  Do you think it will encourage kids not to read?  Or will these videos serve as nice supplementary material for students?  Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.