One of my goals this year was to create instructional videos and learning objects related to my most frequent teaching requests as English and Theatre Arts librarian. The first one I set to work on: a video about comparing theatrical productions, a frequent task assigned to theatre arts students. I’d chosen Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard as an example – the 1923 Broadway tour from Stanislavsky’s Moscow Art Theatre tour, and the 1977 Broadway revival.

I’d typed up the script for the video, practiced it in a closed room a few times, and prepared to start filming a screencast.

I stopped.

For one thing, there was so much content to explore. I’d cut my script in half – it was originally a ten-minute video – and even the initial composition had left me feeling I’d left too much out.

What about the reviews? There were so many fascinating reviews of both productions to explore. You think Pete Wells is harsh on restaurants? Try reading 20th century theatre criticism.

Hobe Morrison’s review of The Cherry Orchard in Variety, February 23, 1977.

What about the primary and secondary documents we have in print? We have a copy of the English translation of The Cherry Orchard produced as a companion to the Moscow Art Theatre tour. We also have a copy of Anton Chekhov at the Moscow Art Theatre: Illustrations of the Original Productions. We know they re-used their original sets in the 1923 tour, so this book is a rare opportunity to view the scenery that would have been used at the time.

Image from Anton Chekhov at the Moscow Art Theatre: Illustrations of the Original Productions, edited and translated by Vera Gottlieb.
English translation of The Cherry Orchard printed to coincide with the 1923 Moscow Art Theatre touring production.

What about all the little fascinating details about the productions? That Diane Lane was a mere ensemble player in the 1977 production, but came back to be one of the stars of another Broadway revival of The Cherry Orchard in 2016? That the 1977 run was extended due to success? That the 1923 run sold out before it opened, but ultimately, the whole tour lost the production money? Would students care about these details?

I wrote, edited, re-wrote, cut, and resigned myself to the inability to pack in all of these artifacts into one instructional video about theatre research. And then I remembered about Articulate Storyline.

Articulate Storyline is one product in a suite of interactive tutorial software solutions from Articulate. It’s a cross between video, Powerpoint, assessment tools, and a Choose Your Own Adventure story. Using Articulate, I can build an online learning object that combines my video instruction with the ability for students to choose to learn more if they want to. I can provide hotspots and buttons in the tutorial for students to explore the reviews at length, or to peruse production illustrations. Students who want to bypass these extras can continue straight through the screencast instead.

More work than producing a simple screencast? Definitely. Will it produce more engagement, and accommodate students with different learning goals in mind? I hope so.

Have you encountered any engaging tutorials that allowed the learner to have more control of their content experience? Please consider posting in the comments!

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