Like so many of the most useful digital technologies finding their way into education, transmedia originated in the broad field of entertainment. Multi-platform storytelling fed the desire of audiences for complex and participative narratives. Today we have transmedia pioneers, such as Jeff Gomez, Lance Weiler, and others, creating intricate narratives that are told through books, comics, video games, Web shorts, feature films, virtual worlds, and many other media. Effectively implemented, such transmedia events are pervasive and have led to a resurgence of narrative in the conjoined worlds of entertainment, marketing, and commercial media.
From Entertainment to Education
However, as is so often the case with technologies that take that journey from other contexts into education, the translation is not a simplistic one. In the case of transmedia, it is critical that we modify and redefine the concept in certain ways so that it can contribute as effectively as possible to students’ learning. We know that children and young people perceive media in an integrated way, as a seamless experience, and it has been shown that learning can be enhanced by multi-platform experiences. But in order to exploit the full potential of the technology for learning, in order that we can fully engage with that seamless perception of media that children enjoy, we must think very carefully about the pedagogy or pedagogies we apply to our use of transmedia.
From StoryWorld to Transmedia LearningWorld
If we combine transmedia with a pedagogy that is transformative, that shifts the locus of control in learning firmly from the teacher towards the learner, we begin to morph the concept of StoryWorld, familiar to transmedia producers, into something that is powerful for learning in the digital age, the Transmedia LearningWorld (TLW). If, for example, we take the pedagogical principles from constructivist and connectivist learning theories, we can start to build frameworks for transmedia narratives that enable the learner to take charge of the narrative and then to shape it to their own learning needs.
A Transmedia LearningWorld is defined as the use of storytelling techniques combined with the use of multiple platforms that create an immersive learning landscape that enables multivarious entry and exit points for learning and teaching.
Digital Media and Learning
Transmedia learning experiences make it easier to create a genuine synergy between the school, the home, and the community. Due to the structure, demands, and rigors of a traditional school environment, it is the out-of-school aspects of such a learning environment that affords more opportunities for students to experience and innovate.
In a series of posts over the next few months here on GETideas.org, I want to focus on three significant aspects of digital media and learning, with TLWs as the core, though by no means the only, subject matter. They are:
- How can we create participative and experiential learning that is permeates the curriculum and
that is integral to our teaching?
- How should we consider and work with the production and consumption of content and media?
- How can we build (or grow) Learning Networks that are viral in nature and sustainable over time?
Architecting quality transmedia learning experiences through the integration of media in a cohesive and compelling way, along with the inclusion of an overlying pedagogy, will have tremendous benefits for educators and learners alike.