Transmedia Storytelling and Course Design

Transmedia storytelling is something I’ve been interested in for quite a while. Aside from the blending of diegetic and non-diegetic realities in the narrative, I think it’s the depth to which the design needs to be constructed that really interests me. Scattering the pieces of a puzzle across various media formats including text, video, social media, email, text messages, and more, Transmedia storytelling designs a path of experience where the audience feels as though they are at the controls, but where there is only one outcome. Reminiscent of a “choose-your-own-adventure” book, this form of story design is highly motivational and demands interactive engagement. Delivered across multiple platforms and sources, Transmedia storytelling also taps into the way in which we naturally “discover” in informal learning environments. In particular, how we surf the net or how we click our way through information to make connections. It uses our natural sense of curiosity and ability to problem solve to move you through the labyrinth. How then could we use this concept of mapping a path using clues and rabbit holes to engage a learning audience?

This concept is very intriguing to me indeed. What if the objectives of a course could be achieved by planting breadcrumbs of content along a maze of discovery in which the student stumbles upon key pieces of the puzzle. These puzzle pieces would become the rabbit hole which directs them to subsequent learning content and further objectives. Learners may not discover all the same clues nor engage in the same activities in the same way, but in the end they would all find the same conclusive end point or outcome. Take a look at this video on Transmedia storytelling to see an example of how it works in marketing and try to imagine designing a course using the same conventions. It’s not that far fetched an idea and one that I think would create a very motivational model.


IDEO Future of the Book

I’ve discussed the future of the book here on this blog before and my fascination with the concepts presented by transmedia. IDEO has published a new video that really peeked my interest recently. Although the whole thing is worth a look I was especially intrigued by the Alice portion of the video which starts at about 3:02. It introduced an interactive transmedia narrative reading experience where location based elements are unlocked to you and the stories characters send you direct messages depending on where in the book you are. This gamification of the written word appeals to me probably because I hated reading as a child. It always seemed that there was something “real” I could be doing instead. It was the “choose-you-own-adventure” books that first caught my attention as a kid and got me appreciating the written word. This idea could be leveraged in literacy programs where kids would rather be playing Xbox the same I way I would have rather been on my bmx.

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