Transmedia

Transmedia is “the use of multiple media platforms to tell a story or story experience” (Sun, 2014, p. 2). Transmedia merges with education through transmedia play involving “experimentation with and participation in a transmedia experience” (Herr-Stephenson, Alper, Reilly & Jenkins, 2013, p.15). As argued on Henry Jenkins’ web blog Vimeo, transmedia plays a significant role in the lives of today’s students (Jenkins, 2013). Please follow this link to view Henry Jenkins’ blog: http://henryjenkins.org/2013/03/t-is-for-transmedia.html

When exploring transmedia in week 3, I was aware of the shift towards transmedia production and considered it the massive commercialisation of narratives to increase profits to movie and production companies. Transmedia play represents a role in the classroom as children are confronted with many forms of media, and it is important they interact with them confidently and wisely. As ‘digital natives’ (Prensky as cited in Howell, 2012, p. 6) many students will be accustomed to using many mediums of communication, although, as future teachers, we cannot expect all students to have the same level of digital convergence or fluency.

As a future primary school teacher, I considered suitable transmedia play for this age group. Through exploration of a story or historical event, students can build upon this by creating or expanding on characters, devising their endings to the story, bringing characters to life through dramatic performance, or communicating the story through a musical recital. Teacher and students could create a video via online multi-media tools to recreate the story and presented to fellow pupils and parents, or as discussed by Howell (2012), create a digital storybook to relay a story. Jeff Gomez, writer, and transmedia producer state, “The child can create a musical or illustrated version of the text story. The bottom line is that the student needs to be able to look at the world in different ways” (Sun, 2014).

To hear more from Jeff Gomez, please view:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9SlVedmnw4

Star Wars, one of the most famous transmedia productions:

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“Star Wars” (Universal history archive/UIG via Getty Images, 1977)

Digital Fluency

Digital fluency is “the ability to use digital technologies in a confident manner” (Howell, 2012, p. 243). Further to this definition, digital fluency allows the user to be digitally savvy with the vast amount of information available to them. Miller and Barlett (2012, p. 39) discuss three components of digital fluency. The first element, net savviness, is a sound and understanding of how the internet operates the importance and vulnerability of digital identity. The second, critical evaluation techniques, teaches users to assess website reliability. The third element, diversity, encourages students to investigate a wide scope of opinions and reflect the importance of objective data. These are critical elements to consider as a teacher, imparting this knowledge on the sensible use of the internet will significantly improve students understanding of it.
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“The digital information fluency model” (Information Fluency, 2011)

Exploring digital fluency in week 6, I realized as a future educator, I should be aware of my student’s technological capabilities. In the early years of school, children are considered “technology neophytes” (Howell, 2012, p. 133) having experienced varying degrees of interaction with technology at home. As future teachers, we can increase our digital fluency through exchanges with students and be open to their expertise. Sharing ideas and information is a good foundation on which to build relationships, as well as broaden understanding of information and communications technology (ICT). Howell (2012) provides a checklist for students to be suitably digitally fluent upon completion of their primary and secondary education:

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As discussed by Howell, (2012) teachers must be assured students are meeting expectations at each stage. When completing primary school, it is imperative for students to be at a standard of digital fluency to support them through their secondary schooling, and once again building upon these skills in their future paths. There are now many opportunities for digitally skilled people to utilise their skills on a professional level (Mac Manus, 2013) as discussed in the following article:

http://www.theguardian.com/social-enterprise-network/2013/aug/02/young-people-fluent-digital

Participation and the digital divide

The digital divide is “the gap between what can be afforded or cannot be afforded regarding ICTs and digital technologies” (Howell, 2012, p. 240). Impacting on participation with digital devices is socioeconomic and geographic factors (Newman, Biedrzycki & Baum, 2012), including educational qualifications; household income and availability of internet access (Anderson, 2015). Please view this short video on the digital divide in education (Ligge1, 2012): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1YLPL0KOWE

In week 4, I gained an understanding of the digital divide; however, I was aware this imbalance existed. I considered how it could impact on future accomplishments of students if unable to access ICT devices. Howell (2013) explains teachers are expected to assist in bridging this divide by ensuring students achieve a good level of digital fluency in the classroom. It is particularly challenging in schools where specialized facilities are inadequate or rural communities where access to the internet is limited. As discussed by Anderson (2015) it is important teachers recognise the digital divide that can exist in student’s home environments. Although Australia is a developed country, much poverty still exists as this 2013 Anglicare report demonstrates:

http://www.anglicarevic.org.au/news/trying-to-connect

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                                               “Image” (Anglicare Victoria, 2013)

I now reflect on the digital divide as being not only restricted access to ICTs but also a lack of training provided to groups in the lower socioeconomic bracket of Australia. As stated by Anderson (2015), the One Child per Laptop program sustained by corporate sponsorship donates many “purpose-built, low-cost machines” to children in developing countries. Indigenous Australians trialed it with limited success due to the lack of appropriate training and scaffolding by teachers to support students. However, the benefits of access to these laptops should not be disputed. As supported by Nicholas Negroponte, many students are self-reliant and motivated to familiarise themselves through interaction with laptops (TED, 2007). In summary, the problem of the digital divide must be treated through the provision of computers, access to the internet and quality teaching for all students (Anderson, 2015).

Please view the Nicholas Negroponte video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_TKjfgjiQs