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Ongoing Deep Recon into the World of Transmedia

October 21, 2010

Don’t know what transmedia is? Check out my previous blog posting here.

It certainly seems to be transmedia conference season at the moment. After my trip to Geneva I was tempted by the Power to the Pixel London Forum 2010 held in the British Film Institute. Much bigger than the TEDx Transmedia event in Geneva and with many case studies being shared I simply couldn’t resist. I hopped bright (or rather, bleary) eyed on the early train down to London for further deep reconnaissance into the transmedia industry.

Tommy Pallotta talks about his film A Scanner Darkly - yes that is Keanu Reeves

There was a lot more practical advice at this event though less opportunity for networking. The highlights for me were the talks by Lance Weiler – award winning writer/director and the man behind the Workbook Project website, Tommy Pallotta producer of A Scanner Darkly and Mike Monello who worked on the Blair Witch Project, arguably the birth of transmedia.

What Transmedia Can Teach eLearning

Mike’s session was brilliant. He gave us five guidelines for transmedia design which he revealed through stories of Coney Island in the US. He described Coney Island of the late 1800s as a “perfect storm” of technology, creativity and entrepreneurs. Mike’s guidelines for great transmedia experiences also ring true for the design of great learning experiences. I’ve added the learning design equivalent in italics below.

  1. Design for communal experiences – people have more fun and get more engaged learning socially together
  2. Make it tangible – extend it into the real world by giving people practice activities that emulate what you want them to learn to do
  3. Foster discovery – let people find stuff out for themselves, don’t lead them by the nose, treat them as adults
  4. Make it personal – connect to peoples’ emotions, let them tailor their personal learning journey
  5. Build a world larger than your characters – allow for further learning from other media, resources and people

Mike Monello talks about his work on the True Blood HBO series

What eLearning Can Teach Transmedia

In the transmedia industry there is a shortage of great writers who can write content for the different forms of media. This is a big issue at the moment and I’ve heard this from conference speakers and delegates alike.

In the learning design world we have “Instructional Designers” who work with “Subject Matter Experts”. The Instructional Designers’ expertises lie in designing great learning experiences for different types of delivery method (for example face-to-face, elearning courseware, scenarios, case studies, slides, PDFs and more) based on the material the SME provides.

In the transmedia industry I see no reason that a similar role could not exist of “Transmedia Designer”. Their role would be to understand the different media delivery options and work with the writer to fit their story threads to the media.

Ongoing Recon

The more I learn about the transmedia industry the more it excites me. Both industries (transmedia and elearning) are very similar and we can learn a lot from each other. I feel like a deep-space explorer venturing into an unknown solar system only to find it’s just like home!

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