Saturday, October 6, 2012

Transmedia and School Libraries

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So what is transmedia and what does it have to do with Youth in Libraries?

Well, I was walking along the Internet one day, when all of a sudden I stumbled across a blog posting on School Library Journal's blog Connect the Pop called "Convergence", DIY Transmedia, and Librarians. Now this blog describes itself as being "At the intersection of pop culture, transliteracy, and critical thinking" so they tend to dedicate themselves to some pretty cutting edge developments that can affect our kids, libraries, and education. As it turns out, "Convergence" is a transmedia conference at the New York Film Festival and the post's author (Peter Gutierrez) was talking about the possibilities of transmedia within the school library. But I have to say that I didn't know what they were talking about with this transmedia stuff. It sounded like another hyped up term that I am sick of hearing (see the cloud), so I was a bit wary of giving this post much notice. But I glanced at it, skimmed it, read it, and read it again to find that it does make sense for the right reason: it gives kids a lot of creative control in determining what the medium will be in creating a story. They may not be able to publish a novel or use broadcast tv, but they sure can shoot a video, animate a story, record a song, shoot photos, or perform a play while at the same time connecting it all to their smart phones.

Isn't it all about telling stories anyway? These are new tools being used for an old concept: how do you make a compelling NARRATIVE? How do you get kids to tell a story that gets other kids and adults interested, and at the same time teach them how to use the tools and thought process to execute this story? Being in an elementary or high school library presents us with some opportunities and challenges. We might have some of the technology at our disposal (school computers, students' iPhones, etc.) but do we have the expertise? We may have willing students, but do we have a supportive administration, staff, and parents? Do we have a clear vision for what we are trying to accomplish on a given project? Can you pull off a sophisticated story project on your own or do you need the structure of collaboration with another faculty member to really get the kids engaged and legitimize your curricular goals? How can you tap in to the integrated way kids perceive media?

The school library is in a unique position to help students not only be consumers of media, but also be the creators and critics of media as well. We have a responsibility to facilitate literacy for our students in multiple formats and methods, and by teaching reading and writing with technology and narrative in mind, we can address many of our learners' needs and enhance their learning experiences. We can probably have some fun in the library, too!

See also transmedia on Connect the Pop.

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