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Talking Transmedia with Laura Fleming

If you didn’t catch Laura Fleming at last year’s SLJ Leadership Summit, or haven’t read her writings on transmedia at places such as Edutopia, HuffPo, or GETideas.Org, then don’t worry…

…because you can count on me to keep sharing her inspiring and insightful work. Not only did she provide some great ideas for the current SLJ article on transmedia (for which, by the way, this is the third and final supplemental post), but she’s profiled in the chapter on transliteracy in my own upcoming book on fandom for Corwin Press. Simply put, there is no school librarian out there who is so consistently out in front of transmedia, and who serves as such as valuable spokesperson and evangelist regarding its curricular applications.


What to say to those who are not exactly anti-transmedia (if there is such a thing) but who may be unmoved to consider it seriously in a K-12 context?

Transmedia has the great advantage that, because content created in the classroom (or anywhere really) can have a life and a utility beyond the classroom, it can create cohesive learning experiences that bring together the school, the home and the community. The effectiveness of transmedia practices in the K-12 context have been recognized and applauded by the United States Department of Education. We accept that children perceive media in an integrated way, as a seamless experience, and it has been shown that learning is enhanced by multi-platform activities.

The DOE support is interesting. What did that look like exactly?

On [its] Web site [is a piece] entitled “Why Use Transmedia in Early Learning?” [which] points out several reasons why a transmedia approach has potential educationally. This mention of transmedia is very exciting to me. It indicates an awareness of the power of these techniques and is a big step forward for implementing them on a wide scale into the U.S. education system.

What advice what you give to educators who want to a) create a transmedia experience around traditional texts and/or b) help students navigate/produce transmedia with limited tech resources?

Transmedia enables us to expand the definition of literacy and allows for new opportunities to experience reading even traditional texts in a transmedia environment.  Linear narratives can have non-linear participatory experiences built around them. These can include low-tech options and even extend into real-life. When creating transmedia experiences of their own, teachers should consider the platforms available to their students as well as which platform would best suit the narrative extension and their learners’ needs.

What is the role of school librarian specifically when it comes to transmedia?

As a school librarian, I feel I have a responsibility to teach my students how to read and write across media and to provide a learning environment that allows for the freedom to think about story in less conventional ways. I believe in combining storytelling techniques with the use of multiple platforms to create an immersive learning landscape, which enables multivarious entry and exit points for learning and teaching.  While it is possible for librarians alone to create their own Transmedia LearningWorlds, interdisciplinary collaborations have proven to be very effective as well.

Recently there was an online gathering about transmedia and education that I know you were a key part of. Any big takeaways from that?

PBS’s Senior VP of Education, Rob Lippincott, turned his thoughts into a blog post. I asked him to participate in the discussion because I refer often to the work of PBS in the transmedia space, and did so in that roundtable as well. The major participants in the roundtable were key transmedia figures from the entertainment space, and I think something that people should understand is that in the entertainment sphere these techniques have been proven to immerse participants into a storyworld, creating a layered, interactive, and personalized experience. My angle has always been that we can borrow these techniques, overlay them with an education philosophy, pedagogy, and learning outcomes, and [thereby] can create powerful learning experiences.

Finally, what resources would you recommend for readers to learn more about transmedia and/or to address it within a school library context?

Inanimate Alice–to me, the most significant transmedia literacy title there is, one which and should be of great interest to librarians and educators everywhere. [Also,] Sue Thomas and the groundbreaking work of the Transliteracy Research Group, and [the blog of USC professor] Henry Jenkins.

Great. Thanks so much for your time…

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