When CreatorUp first approached me about working on a series of educational videos about soft skills in the workplace, I wasn’t sure if this project was a good fit for me. After all, I’m a writer and director with a background in narrative filmmaking, and only minimal experience in the educational realm.
However, after hearing the parameters of the series and the goals that Feather River College was hoping to accomplish, I realized something important: the things that make me love movies and TV are actually the very same things that could make video an effective teaching tool. Narrative filmmaking could help students understand the universal soft skills that help lead to professional success.
Knowing vs. Understanding: The Power of Video to Make the Abstract Real
Let me back up. I know from my own time as a student that it’s incredibly difficult to understand ideas without a context. Even now, I still remember the day my high school physics teacher explained angular momentum conservation by bringing in a turntable, standing on it, and spinning. When his arms were outstretched, he span slower, and when he brought them in, he span faster. I might have known what angular momentum conservation was before that demonstration, but I didn’t understand it until I saw it.
That’s because there is a difference between knowing something and being able to apply that knowledge in a real-life situation. Too often, there is no intermediary step to help students transition from the theoretical sphere to the practical.
Framing each of the soft skills that FRC identified in a narrative, problem-based video scenario does exactly what my high school physics teacher did with his spinning demonstration: it takes abstract information and transforms it into something concrete. By showing scenes in which these soft skills are necessary – for an assortment of people, in a variety of job functions, across a range of industries – we were able to create a series of videos that provide the necessary stepping stone between learning a skill and using a skill. Ultimately, incorporating key elements of narrative filmmaking into this educational curriculum provides students with a more organic and seamless learning experience — and, consequently, greater capacity for professional success.