So what is ‘Transmedia’ anyway?

A blog post by Stacey Edmonds, Head of Film & Digital, Be Learning

In 2010 I completed an advanced diploma in Multi-Platform Screen Production.  At the time the course was named, Multi-Platform was the ‘in’ word. Since then the term ‘Transmedia Producer’ has been accepted by Hollywood – so Transmedia became and remains the term used to describe story delivered across multiple platforms.

Interestingly, and this is what got me started, Transmedia is not only being used in the entertainment world. The use of multiple platforms to tell a story is all the rage across many disciplines including entertainment, marketing, activism and, wait for it, learning.

Why? ‘Cos let’s face it, when we stop hiding behind our
chosen discipline we are all doing the same thing… to utilise story across delivery platforms to engage participants in an immersive experience to entertain them, teach them, incite the activist in them or sell them loads of stuff…

Here’s a radical thought – let’s take a multi-discipline approach and see what we can learn from each discipline. I do like the generosity of Zen Films who offer their Transmedia Development Process up for use… “The process has been developed with brand clients in mind but it’s easily adapted for filmmakers creating
transmedia for themselves”

I’ve been on the search for some nice clean quotes from all 4 disciplines to demonstrate this point. Which is in fact – for me – The Pointy End of the Point…

…in Entertainment

Henry Jenkins, who champions the term ‘transmedia storytelling’ gives a good ‘ole definition, explanation, and masses of uber handy resources in the Transmedia Storytelling and Entertainment Syllabus for the course he’s teaching this fall at USC, which he posted on his blog:

“We now live at a moment where every story, image, brand, relationship plays itself out across the maximum number of media platforms, shaped top down by decisions made in corporate boardrooms and bottom up by decisions made in teenager’s bedrooms. The concentrated ownership of media conglomerates increases the desirability of properties that can exploit ‘synergies’ between different parts of the medium system and
‘maximize touch-points’ with different niches of consumers. The result has been the push towards franchise-building in general and transmedia entertainment in particular.

A transmedia story represents the integration of entertainment experiences across a range of different media platforms. A story like Heroes or Lost might spread from television into comics, the web, computer or alternate reality games, toys and other commodities, and so forth, picking up new consumers as it goes and allowing the most dedicated fans to drill deeper. The fans, in turn, may translate their interests in the franchise into
concordances and wikipedia entries, fan fiction, vids, fan films, cosplay, game mods, and a range of other
participatory practices that further extend the story world in new directions. Both the commercial and grassroots expansion of narrative universes contribute to a new mode of storytelling, one which is based on an
encyclopedic expanse of information which gets put together differently by each individual consumer as well as processed collectively by social networks and online knowledge communities.”

In Marketing

Luke Telford gives what I think is a blummin’ lovely explanation in his post on NETT:

“Transmedia campaigns are marketing campaigns that employ something called Transmedia Storytelling.

The term basically refers to a narrative that occurs across many media forms, each of which contribute
significantly to how the viewer perceives and processes the narrative.”

In Activism

Lina Srivastava, Principal of Lina Srivastava Consulting LLC and creator of the Transmedia Activism framework devised the phrase “transmedia activism” to describe the possibilities transmedia storytelling holds for social change initiatives. Her site states: “Transmedia activism is a framework that creates social impact by using
storytelling by a number of decentralized authors who share assets and create content for distribution across multiple forms of media to raise awareness and influence action.”

…In Learning

My background is in teaching and learning, as a teacher in schools and a Learning and Development specialist in adult learning. For years in Adult Learning we’ve been using the term Blended Learning to describe the use of blending ‘traditional’ and online learning delivery methods. Using multiple platforms for education and learning is far from a new phenomenon, the key is in applying the adult learning theory to develop an authentic, engaging, relevant learning experience.

I’ve not heard the term Transmedia Learning in relation to adult learning as yet. Henry Jenkins has begun to explore Transmedia Education in terms of teaching in schools and colleges and mentions Transmedia Learning in passing and I’d really like to explore that concept more. Could a definition of Transmedia Learning be… (first try, really need to work on this, any ideas welcome – I’m sure it needs to sound more impressive than – what, when and how it works for the participants…)

Transmedia Learning employs the approach of Transmedia Storytelling underpinned by adult learning theory to provide participants with a rich, varied and personally relevant knowledge base through the creative and well purposed use of multiple media platforms.

The approach enables the learner to experience the narrative in a form that suits their learning style, where and how they are able to access.

The result? An authentic, engaging, relevant, sticky emorable, enjoyable learning experience that assists a
person in achieving their personal and professional goals.

Here at Be Learning we call these learning experiences Integrated Creative Learning Experiences and we’d really love to hear your ideas and thoughts about it…

Find the original blog here