By Laura Fleming and John Connell
Until just a few years ago, stories we were told mostly through a single medium – it might be a book, a movie, a radio program, a cartoon.
Today, we can tell stories across a wide variety of media, all at the same time. That's the premise behind the term "transmedia."
Transmedia is a new way of thinking about how stories are told: creating and consuming stories simultaneously through text, images, the spoken word, music, video, animation. We can even bring computer games into our stories, allowing the reader to solve puzzles or choose alternative routes through the tale. Rather than just retelling the story, the different media help to extend the story. At the same time, today’s ever-expanding social networks are creating opportunities for us to interact with a story, and this, combined with all the digital tools at our disposal, enable us to play our own part in deciding how a story unfolds.
Take Inanimate Alice, for example. Created as digital text, the transmedia story allows learners, fourth grade and up, to interact with the central character, Alice, and to help her advance her story. Text, audio, video, special effects and gaming are all used to deliver the narrative in a compelling way. Inanimate Alice one of five resources in the National Writing Project's "Digital Is" website, which is a repository of ideas about how educators use transmedia to teach writing.