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Every Student's Dream: Video CliffsNotes for Shakespeare

Get ready to be jealous: Modern CliffsNotes are now six-minute videos.

Thanks to the new film Anonymous, a new generation of students gets to wonder if Shakespeare was a fraud when they're reading one of his dozens of plays. But whatever they think about who really wrote Hamlet, they're going to fall behind on their reading at some point, or need some extra help figuring out what's happening in the story. Earlier generations turned to those black and yellow CliffsNotes study guides to catch up on the Bard, but all modern students have to do is watch a video.

Today's students have CliffsNotes Films, which offer animated, interactive video summaries of the classics. As you can see in the preview clip above, video CliffNotes takes an upbeat, action packed approach to 400-year-old literature. The six-minute length makes them perfect for a teen to watch on her phone during a school bus ride home, and students can click on characters on the screen to learn more about them. The videos obviously aren't a replacement for reading the classics yourself, but they make an engaging, useful supplement.

Such an engaging approach to learning is sure to help students better understand the plots, themes and characters of the classics, which can, in turn, make reading them more enjoyable.The project, which is co-created by Mark Burnett of Survivor fame, launched with six Shakespeare plays: Hamlet, Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, and Julius Caesar. Let's hope they expand to other authors soon.

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