Video Storytelling Enhances Innovative Research Intervention at The Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

The Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University has used Powtoon to create an innovative video solution for research. Discover how they used Powtoon to develop the video component of a complex psychoeducational intervention which includes 28 engaging videos that combine active storytelling, voice over, and animation.

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90

Minutes of animated videos

28

Discrete educational videos incorporated into individual intervention sessions

12

Months to develop the video component with all content finalized

Institution

The Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation provides research, services, and training to enhance the lives of individuals with psychiatric disabilities. Founded in 1979, the Center consists of four divisions: (1) Research; (2) Training, Dissemination & Technical Assistance; (3) Services; and (4) Operations.

The work of the Center is guided by the value that people with psychiatric disabilities have the same goals and dreams as other people. The Center’s mission is to help individuals with psychiatric disabilities attain their goals based on the core values of recovery and rehabilitation.

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Challenge

In 2019, the Center was awarded a five-year Research and Training Center Grant (#90RTEM0004) from NIDILRR (the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research).

This RTC includes several projects targeting employment outcomes for individuals with psychiatric disabilities. One of the research projects aimed at the development of a complex intervention with a video component embedded in each of its 28 sessions. It was determined that the Powtoon software, with its ease of use and accessibility, would be the ideal platform to use for developing the intervention’s videos.

Solution

Initially, the research team worked on developing 28 vignettes and corresponding scripts consistent with the content of each session of the intervention. Mr. Philippe Bloch, a Senior Research Coordinator at the Center, was then tasked with developing the visual component of the vignettes using Powtoon.

Over the course of a year, Philippe worked closely with the Principal Investigator and the project’s research team to bring this vision to life. Learning “on the job”, Philippe was able to combine Powtoon’s palette of scenes, backgrounds, characters and props into realistic videos reflecting the scenarios set forth in the vignettes.
The script texts were added as a visual component to the videos along with an audio track voicing the dialogue.

Why was Powtoon such a useful tool, and such an effective solution to the Center’s aims?

Adaptability

Philippe demonstrated that Powtoon could be used for more than just basic marketing or training purposes. The range of characters, scenes, and overall possibilities meant Philippe could “bend” Powtoon into an effective storytelling and pedagogical mechanism.

Sensitivity

Some of the topics the videos deal with are personal, and the clients viewing the videos need to be able to identify and relate to characters and scenes being depicted. Powtoon made it possible to portray the diversity typical to any workplace, enabling topics such as body morphism and skin color to be addressed realistically.

Utility

Feedback from research participants has thus far been very positive. The videos are enabling thoughtful reflection by clients in the study. By concretizing potentially problematic situations, the videos enable the client and clinician to better envision solutions to such problems should they actually arise in the client’s life.

Results

The results do speak for themselves. The project’s 28 Powtoon videos contained a total of 41 distinct scenes and 41 different characters. With absolutely no background in animation, Philippe was able to create from scratch the 28 videos that brought the scenes and situations to life.

The Powtoon's range from about three to five minutes in length, the characters depicted are true to form, the scenes realistic and plausible. Combined with the voiced dialogue, and other specialized audio effects, the videos very effectively communicate the intent written into the intervention materials.

“I started out knowing zero about creating animation. Powtoon gave me the building blocks and tools to enable me to deliver a product that really looks professional. Getting started was easy enough, and the more familiar I became with the software, the more I discovered innovative ways to elaborate and illustrate my themes.

Powtoon is not only packed with a ton of features, but they’re always coming up with new additions that bring it to an even higher level! In the end, I was proud to deliver a product I believe has artistic merit, that is extremely useful to my employer, and which may improve the lives of participants in the research study. Given the positive feedback I’ve received for my work, I am confident Investigators at our Center would not hesitate to use Powtoons again for other projects, as the need arises.”

- Philippe Bloch, Senior Research Coordinator, Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

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