Francine Shuchat Shaw
Associate Professor, Educational Communication and Technology
Shuchat-Shaw's live action video series on HIV embeds educational content in video drama in order to promote critical thinking about behavior.
Although Francine Shuchat Shaw has over 25 years of expertise in designing video to support learning across many disciplines, a series of live action videos she produced focus primarily on HIV. The series, called HIV Is Still a Big Deal, was a collaboration with Mary Ann Chiasson of the Medical and Health Research Association of New York. "After interviewing over 1,000 well educated, high-income Caucasian and African-American men, we realized many had a lot of misperceptions about HIV transmission, prevention and therapy," says Shuchat Shaw. "We wanted to take some action.”
The first episode of the series is the story of three friends, one of whom thinks he’s practiced unsafe sex. “He’s worried, so he and his friends discuss how and when people should disclose their HIV status.” This episode, called The Morning After, was originally seen on the website Manhunt.net, though now it appears on many other websites.
The second episode in the series is called The Test. “The goal with this episode is to dispel misconceptions around getting tested. We look at who is truly at risk for HIV and when and how often they should be tested.”
Shuchat Shaw says an alarming number of men do not get tested because they don’t believe they could become HIV positive. “Many sexually active gay men today think HIV/AIDS is just a story of devastation in the 1980s and 90s. Also, they see healthy-looking people living with HIV/AIDS, so there’s this idea that it’s curable. The Test episode challenges these notions by telling the story of someone who needs to be tested because he really has been engaging in some high-risk behavior.” The entire series was funded by the New York Community Trust, the van Ameringen Foundation, and the Medical and Health Research Association.
What Shuchat Shaw did with this series is what she’s always done with her work: embed educational content in video drama in order to promote critical thinking about behavior. “We think about problems in our everyday lives as stories,” she explains. “Because of that, stories are very effective tools for learning. This series targets guys in their late 20s and early 30s by telling them stories they can relate to so that they might change their attitudes about condom use and HIV disclosure. When we followed up with men three months after viewing the first video, it seemed extremely effective in changing their high risk behavior.”
Another video project looks at people with HIV who use the drug crystal methamphetamine. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control, Shuchat Shaw is collaborating with Sabina Hirshfield, a senior research scientist at the Medical and Health Research Association, and filmmaker Todd Ahlberg. “We’re excerpting portions of Todd's documentary film Meth to use alongside scripted drama in order to compare the effectiveness of the two kinds of storytelling. We hope to find out if there is more critical thinking about the use of this drug during high risk sexual activity after viewing the video, and what kind of storytelling - scripted drama or documentary - is more effective in reaching viewers.”
Watch the HIV is Still a Big Deal Video
Shuchat Shaw, who is the coordinator of the MA and Advanced Certificate programs in Educational Communication and Technology, hopes the program will continue to be at the forefront of the exploration of emerging media. “Media is exploding, and everyone in the Department of Administration, Leadership & Technology wants to dig into all of it to understand how we can use it to educate. Our students, who are everything from anthropologists to pre-school teachers, want to design and create media that help people solve any number of problems. They know that through media they can affect the lives of vast numbers of people. ”