Friday, December 3, 2010

Participatory Educational Entertainment

Blog 12
December 3, 2010

Singhal and Rogers propose a theoretical framework in order to analyze Entertainment Education. They point out how the emotions that EE programs evoke can be far more effective than straight ahead information. They use the example of how if someone is attached to a character on a show, and that character suffers and dies from AIDS, the affect on condom usage will be more powerful than a straight ahead information ad. They also outline methods for methodology and measurements of how many people watch the shows and are affected by them.
I have heard anecdotal evidence from a person I interviewed who implemented radio education programs with the Peace Corps in Niger. He told me that one of the problems they had was in gathering data about the effectiveness of radio programs that they had made. One example was one he had helped to make about smoking. The women who was the voice actor on it told him that she was in a taxi one day and the taxi driver recognized her and told her he had stopped smoking because of the show. This kind of direct feedback is hard to gather in a comprehensive way (whether the show was heard and if it had an affect ie did it change behavior). The same can be said for EE programs. Singhal and Rogers suggest inserting “markers” into shows that are unique. This creates an independent variable that is easier to measure. However, In some areas it is hard to get surveys done because the work of getting them out requires transportation and people on the ground. There are now mobile phone applications for this kind of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of radio shows, so there are possibilities for more evaluation. And the people in the towns can be given phones in order to gather the data and become involved in the project in multiple ways.
In their conclusion, Singhal and Rogers speak about using the web to deliver more individualized messages. They also look at how some communities have used arts/crafts and participatory theater to help with education and behavior changes. I think a combination of mass media with participatory ideas can be powerful. One project I worked on in LA was with high school students in “south central”. They made documentaries about the neighborhood and video journals. We posted the work online and had film screenings. While the work was not seen by a large audience, the affects of these kinds of participatory projects are tangible. You can see how the kids gain confidence and enjoy working in a medium that is familiar to them as consumers.


  1. I think Singhal and Rogers picked up on something valuable; the power of a good motivator. Even if one bears no substantial connection to another person, an emotional connection with that other person's well being can be substantially effective. Grief is especially powerful. What person wouldn't check his cholesterol if their father had died of a heart attack, or buckle their seatbelt if a friend had been injured in a car accident?

    That's why I think the web has a power to deliver individualized messages more effectively. The language and style of conversations are raw, and often wrought with emotion. Any time you can provoke an emotional response out of someone, it becomes easier to manipulate their future course and actions without them necessarily realizing the effect of what you're doing.

  2. I really like your comments about Singhal and Rogers' article. You point out something important such as how to evaluate those E-E programs such as the community radio programs and so on. It is hard to get the survey done and collect the direct feedback. Usually people who design the E-E programs might not live in that community. Most often, the locals are the potential beneficiaries or victims of the program design and implementation.

    So I totally agree with you by utilizing the participatory approach to get people involved into either in the program design, or program implementation, sometimes could in both. So people have a sense of ownership and enjoy doing something which might not only be meaningful for them but also for other people as well. ----Commentary from Qiong Xie.