Expanding learning opportunities with transmedia practices: "inanimate alice" as an exemplar.
The proliferation of digital and networking technologies enables us to rethink, restructure, and redefine teaching and learning. Transmedia storytelling takes advantage of the rapid convergence of media and allows teachers and learners to participate in rich virtual (and physical) environments that have been shown to foster students’ real emotional engagement with the process of learning. Transmedia learning applies storytelling techniques across multiple platforms to create immersive educational experiences that enable manifold entry and exit points for learning and teaching. By utilizing constructivist and connectivist precepts in the application of these techniques, we can create pedagogies that are transformative on many levels. Encapsulating these notions in the concept of the Transmedia LearningWorld (TLW) allows educators to combine the exciting affordances of the digital technologies with real-life experiences and truly learner-focused pedagogies to produce profoundly productive and powerful learning experiences. In the US, the advent of Common Core State Standards is pushing schools and districts across the country to consider carefully the requirements for digital learning, including aspects of personalization, interoperability, taking our understanding of eLearning beyond a narrow focus on digital content, and encouraging significant shifts in pedagogical thinking and practice. The application of transmedia techniques and, in particular, the recognition of the power of the TLW give teachers tools that allow them to reach every child, including otherwise “reluctant” learners, and indeed that allow children themselves to drive their own learning. The digital novel Inanimate Alice is a proven example of a transmedia resource that can immerse students in an intense and motivating learning experience over time. Transmedia techniques leverage the power of collective intelligence in learners, and they enable educators to weave the narrative of curricula through media in a seamless and wholly interactive and participative fashion.