Friday, 24 February 2012

Introducing Transmedia Storytelling

This week I launched a Transmedia Storytelling project with every ICT class in the school. The aim is to explore uses for the online tools we have been working with over the past eighteen months - with Google Apps at their heart. I'm excited about the possibilities of Transmedia Storytelling as a vehicle for individualised learning, collaboration, creativity and good, clean fun.  

First I explained to the students that the project was unusual in three respects:
  1. I don't know what they are going to do
  2. They are going to be teaching other people
  3. As far as I can tell no-one else, anywhere else is doing a project quite like this -  we are all learning, none of us knows the answers and so we must all support each other.
I explained that I had learned a few things from our Future Technologies project last year.
  1. Our ICT suite is not a good environment for group work, so we will be working in the rather grand-sounding Media suite (Our food-tech room with a load of laptops). 
  2. Groups need to be mixed gender and, while transferring between teams should be possible, strict rules are needed to prevent disintegration.  Currently the rules are:  4-6 members with a minimum of two boys and two girls.  Transferring requires the formal agreement of both teams
  3. A clear theme that everybody understands and, preferably, has a stake in, is needed. Without a structure an open-ended project easily runs out of breadcrumbs while lost in the woods.  A collaboratively written story outline provides a clear but flexible spine for the project.  The stories must teach other students about an aspect of e-safety.

We looked at the site for the last Harry Potter movie. We discussed how it uses a variety of media with a story as its spine. We also discussed its aims - to provide an engaging experience in order to sell things.  Our aims are similar except that we shall be selling ideas.  We unpicked the term transmedia storytelling and created a thumbnail definition: storytelling that is not restricted to any single medium but uses whichever best suits the story.

Via a Google Apps wiki site I had set up, student linked in to the websites thinkuknow, KidsSmart and CBBC StaySafe for seed ideas that might grow into stories.  When they found a page that was interesting they posted the URL to page on the wiki with a brief description and their name.  This provides a way back to the pages they found interesting and shares those with others.  I have left them until next week to sort out gender partners.  Meanwhile I'm still working on my own story... Part 2 is nearly ready