Can This One Professor Rescue Europe?

by   |  August 7, 2014
Alberto AlemmanoAlberto Alemmano’s life mission is to promote civic engagement in the European Union. His recent Coursera class solicits the attention of bright, young minds who are eager to learn and change the world.

Alberto Alemanno is a man on a mission.   His goal is nothing short of saving the European continent, and in just one video, he has created one of the most compelling cases the world has ever seen for engaging and investing in the EU.

Saving Europe

Historically, Europe has been the continent to market itself best to tourists—thanks largely to the efforts of the Western European countries. Since the recession, however, European nations have recognized the necessity of marketing themselves to potential investors. This is a much harder sale for the world-famous tourist trap.

Yet when it comes to popularizing dry subjects, nobody does it better than Alberto Alemanno, CEO of eLabEurope and creator of a new online class on Coursera. His company eLabEurope “promotes civic engagement through new forms of participatory democracy and nonprofit advocacy in the public interest in Europe and beyond”. In other words, Alemanno tries to get more people involved in driving real world change.

Alberto Alemanno IIAlemanno created the most compelling campaign I have ever seen for Europe as a whole—in one single video. Said video is the overview for his new Coursera class brought to you by the prestigious HEC Paris school. As would tickle the fancy of any Europhile, the video is considerably theatrical. It is unlike any Coursera video you have ever seen.

Now, make no mistake: is a website I fiercely love and admire, the cause of which I believe in deeply. I’m thrilled by the MOOC trend (that of Massive Open Online Courses), and am pleased to see an increasing number of universities jumping on the MOOC bandwagon. The cause speaks deeply to everyone who believes in democratizing education and increasing the world’s access to quality information and prestigious universities. But the truth is most promotional videos for its courses aren’t spectacular by cinematographic standards, nor do they necessarily try to be.

Most Coursera intro videos describe what you’ll learn in the course in a fairly straight-forward, dry manner. The vast majority feature a professor from some well-known university telling you what you’ll get out of his or her course. The videos are in “talking head” format. Some go so far as to include pictures or one to three PowerPoint slides to underscore what the instructor is talking about.

Some of the more interesting Coursera introductory videos include animations. You might see an illuminated marquee scrolling across the bottom or a swirling image of a globe for some business-related classes. Wharton’s Introduction to Accounting Class goes so far as to play an entire scene of a nerdy accountant speaking in jargon to other business people.

The introductory videos aren’t usually very interesting in and of themselves. The interest factor is more in the actual subject matter being discussed. If you find the material interesting, you will be interested in the video. If you don’t care about learning the subject matter, you won’t very often be stirred by the video. You probably will never watch it in the first place, so you’ll skip it and just move on with life.

But this video. This one is different.

No introductory video that I have seen has been as dramatic in its summary of what you are about to learn. It promotes not only the course and its presentation, but also the subject matter itself—which subject matter just so happens to be a large portion of the geographical world. The video isn’t just a call to learn about something; it is rather propaganda for an entire group of nations.

In this precisely edited high-definition video, the handsome Alberto Alemanno compels you to learn about how the continent works so you can “shape it and make it your own”. Being a Europhile myself, this is the kind of message that makes me say, “Oooh!”

First-Round Video: Very Good

This first video Alemanno produced presents his ideas and objective for the course very clearly.   The format is “talking head” with changing images in the background.   It’s entertaining, informative, concise and memorable.   The format and execution are more than appropriate for a preview of an online course.

Second-Round Video: Even Better

The second video Alemanno produced is visibly more high-budget.   The format is more like a movie trailer in which Alemanno is the narrator and star.   In place of images and slide shots, we see real shots of the EU cities and power centers.   Suspenseful music plays in the background, creating an ambiance of uncertainty and adventure.

During Alemanno’s narration, the suspenseful music gradually shifts to a lighter, more happy, hip, and hopeful tone, leaving the viewer feeling hopeful and eager to learn more.

While departing from the traditional “online course preview” format, the video succeeds in enticing the viewer to engage with the material.

The video cannot be embedded in this article, but you can view it here.   Watch and enjoy.

Unraveling Misconceptions

The motivation for Alemanno’s course is to have his pupils trade their misconceptions for facts about Europe. To win credibility, the handsome instructor tries to portray three common and credible points of view about Europe as a whole. The first describes tourists and Europhiles alike: images of good food, culture, and rich history. That sums up pretty well what I love about Europe. The second is the point of view of frustrated European citizens who have become disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the European Union. The third vantage point is from employees of the EU itself.

But after summing up these viewpoints, Alemanno looks straight into the camera and defies those ideas, saying that none of them captures what Europe truly is today.

He then goes on to describe his philosophy of how malleable the European system of governance is, issuing his value proposition to teach you how you can change it to be what you want. Though I have a hard time believing it’s that simple to change anything, I am enthralled by Alemanno’s bold claim and theatrical presentation.

True to the videos’ objective, it makes me want to take the class. After watching it, I’m guessing you will, too!

Hope for Europe’s Future

Alberto Alemanno’s mission is to brighten Europe’s future by getting young people interested, invested, and involved.   In his mind, very few people recognize and take advantage of the possibilities that the EU in particular has to offer.   He seeks to clear up misunderstandings about how Europe functions so as to open young people’s minds to investing time and attention (and money) into the system.

Alemanno makes a very compelling case for investing in Europe.   Since I have a lifelong fondness for he Continent, I’m rooting for Alemanno to succeed in this goal.

More on: Business, Changing the World, Marketing, Optimism, Strategies
About the Author:

Mimi West is a consummate entrepreneur, brand and marketing expert. This retired opera singer and Founder of My Dream Teacher is now pursuing her MBA at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Administration. You can follower her on Twitter: @MimiGuynnWest.
Publshed: August 7, 2014  | 
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