Skip to main content

The Compelling Nature of Transmedia Storytelling: Empowering Twenty First-Century Readers and Writers Through Multimodality

Abstract

Innovations in digital media have created new opportunities to engage young readers—opportunities that can stimulate teachers to use technology in ways that support the skills students need to fully participate in a digital society. However, research shows that today’s literacy educators are still largely focused on print-based literature. Transmedia literature has the potential to challenge this tendency. Specifically, the born-digital novel Inanimate Alice shows promise in empowering twenty first-century readers and writers through multimodal narratives. This paper presents the work in progress from a collaborative research group that was assembled to identify solutions for integrating Inanimate Alice into both formal and informal education. The primary goal of the group is to position Inanimate Alice as an exemplar for a new canon of digital literature, thus legitimating the role of innovative literary forms in supporting twenty first-century literacies. The group has adopted a cross-disciplinary approach to examine the design and usability of the story’s platform as well as explore the relationship between the complexity of its reading experience and the complexity of its medium. This paper offers a discussion of ongoing research findings and emerging understandings of the literacy experiences that underlie young readers’ interactions with Inanimate Alice through a multi-disciplinary perspective.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • AASL. (2015). Best apps & websites for teaching & learning archive. Retrieved September 23, 2019, from http://www.ala.org/aasl/awards/best/archive.

  • ACRL. (2015). Framework for information literacy. Retrieved September 23, 2019, from http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework.

  • Anderson, P. (2018, August 18). Canada’s Fraser Valley Regional Library announces VR partnership for ‘Inanimate Alice’. Retrieved September 23, 2019, from https://publishingperspectives.com/2018/08/inanimate-alice-vr-development-bradfield-fraser-valley-canada/.

  • Baker, F. W. (2012). Visual literacy. In Media literacy in the K-12 classroom. Eugene, OR: International Society of Technology Association.

  • Bates, K. (2016). Making interactional meaning in visual narratives more visible. Practically Primary, 21(1), 18–22.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2015). “Waiting for Carnot”: Information and complexity. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 66(11), 2177–2186.

    Google Scholar 

  • Call, J. (2019). Case study on ICT and reading education using Inanimate Alice [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved September 23, 2019, from https://inanimatealice.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/inanimate-alice-case-study-julie-call.pdf.

  • Checkland, P., & Poulter, J. (2010). Soft systems methodology. In M. Reynolds & S. Holwell (Eds.), Systems approaches to managing change: A practical guide (pp. 191–242). London: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Colwell, J., & Hutchison, A. C. (2015). Supporting teachers in integrating digital technology into language arts instruction to promote literacy. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 31(2), 56–63.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2000). Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Create with Alice. (2016). Retrieved September 23, 2019, from https://inanimatealice.com/create-with-me/.

  • Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fan, J. (2014). An information theory account of cognitive control. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00680.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fleming, L. (2013). Expanding learning opportunities with transmedia practices: Inanimate Alice as an exemplar. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 5(2), 370–377.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frank, S. L. (2013). Uncertainty reduction as a measure of cognitive load in sentence comprehension. Topics in Cognitive Science, 5(3), 475–494.

    Google Scholar 

  • Freire, P. (1970/2005). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: The Continuum International Publishing Group (Original work published in 1970).

  • Gee, J. (1999). The new literacy studies and the “social turn”. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gee, J. P. (2008). Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hale, J. T. (2006). Uncertainty about the rest of the sentence. Cognitive Science, 30, 643–672.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harper, I. (2015). A transmedia experience for all students. Retrieved September 23, 2019, from https://inanimatealice.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/inanimate-alice-teacher-case-study-kristal-doolin.pdf.

  • Harper, I. (2019). Inanimate Alice [Custom Google map]. Retrieved September 23, 2019, from http://bit.ly/ia-map.

  • Harris, A. (2011). How effective are print-based comprehension models for reading and assessing multimodal texts? Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 19(3), 19–32.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hutchison, A., & Reinking, D. (2011). Teachers’ perceptions of integrating information and communication technologies into literacy instruction: A national survey in the United States. Reading Research Quarterly, 46(4), 312–333.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ito, M., Gutiérrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., et al. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jenkins, H. (2004). The cultural logic of media convergence. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(1), 33–43.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Chicago, IL: MacArthur Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jewitt, C. (2009). An introduction to multimodality. In C. Jewitt (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of multimodal analysis (pp. 14–27). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kadir, T., & Brady, M. (2001). Saliency, scale and image description. International Journal of Computer Vision, 45(2), 83–105.

    Google Scholar 

  • Karchmer-Klein, R., & Shinas, V. H. (2012). 21st century literacies in teacher education: Investigating multimodal texts in the context of an online graduate-level literacy and technology course. Research in the Schools, 19(1), 60–74.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kress, G. R. (2003). Literacy in the new media age. New York: Psychology Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kress, G., & van Leeuwen, T. (2006). Reading images: The grammar of visual design. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Larson, L. C. (2009). e-reading and e-responding: New tools for the next generation of readers. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(3), 255–258.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lee, K., & Lee, S. (2015). A new framework for measuring 2D and 3D visual information in terms of entropy. IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology, 26(11), 2015–2027.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lenhart, A., Duggan, M., Perrin, A., Stepler, R., Rainie, H., & Parker, K. (2015). Teens, social media & technology overview 2015 (pp. 04–09). Washington: Pew Research Center [Internet & American Life Project].

    Google Scholar 

  • Li, J., & Gao, W. (2014). Visual saliency computation: A machine learning perspective. Cham: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lin, Y., Fang, B., & Tang, Y. (2010). A computational model for saliency maps by using local entropy. In Proceedings of the twenty-fourth AAAI conference on artificial intelligence, pp. 967–973. Retrieved September 23, 2019, from https://www.aaai.org.

  • MacKay, D. (1969). Information, mechanism and meaning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • NAMLE. (2007). Media literacy defined. Retrieved September 23, 2019, from https://namle.net/publications/media-literacy-definitions/.

  • New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60–92.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peelen, M. V., & Downing, P. E. (2017). Category selectivity in human visual cortex: Beyond visual object recognition. Neuropsychologia, 105, 177–183.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pressley, M., & Hilden, K. (2004). Verbal protocols of reading. In N. Duke & M. H. Mallete (Eds.), Literacy research methodologies (pp. 308–321). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rivero, V. (2010, September 10). Interview: Ian Harper. EdTech Digest. Retrieved from https://edtechdigest.com/2010/09/10/interview-ian-harper/.

  • Roswell, J., & Burke, A. (2009). Reading by design: Two case studies of digital reading practices. Journal of Adolescent & Adult, 53(2), 106–118.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sanders, J., & Albers, P. (2010). Multimodal literacies: An introduction. In P. Albers & J. Sanders (Eds.), Literacies, the arts, and multimodality (pp. 1–25). Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schmoker, M. (2019, February 20). The problem with literacy programs. Education Week. Retrieved March 9, 2020, from https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2019/02/20/the-problem-with-literacy-programs.html.

  • Scolari, C. (2009). Transmedia storytelling: Implicit consumers, narrative worlds, and branding in contemporary media productions. International Journal of Communication, 3, 586–606.

    Google Scholar 

  • Serafini, F. (2015). Multimodal literacy: From theories to practices. Language Arts, 92, 412–423.

    Google Scholar 

  • Serafini, F., Kachorsky, D., & Reid, S. (2018). Revisiting the multimodal nature of children’s literature. Language Arts, 95(5), 311–321.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shannon, C. E. (1951). Prediction and entropy of printed English. Bell System Technical Journal, 30, 50–64.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shannon, C., & Weaver, W. (1949). The mathematical theory of communication. Urbana, IL: The University of Illinois Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shaw, D., & Davis, C. H. (1983). Entropy and information: A multidisciplinary overview. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 34(1), 67–74.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sitzmann, V., Serrano, A., Pavel, A., Agrawala, M., Gutierrez, D., Masia, B., et al. (2018). Saliency in VR: How do people explore virtual environments? IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 24(4), 1633–1642.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stumbles, R. (2015, December 8). Teaching digital literacy with Inanimate Alice. Retrieved from http://digitalmobilelanguagelearning.org/2015/12/teaching-digital-literacy-with-inanimate-alice/.

  • Testimonials. (2016). Retrieved September 23, 2019, from https://inanimatealice.com/testimonials/.

  • Theurer, K. L. (2014). Complexity-based theories of emergence: Criticisms and constraints. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 28(3), 277–301.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thomas, S., Joseph, C., Laccetti, J., Mason, B., Mills, S., Perril, S., et al. (2007). Transliteracy: Crossing divides. First Monday, 12(12). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v12i12.2060.

  • UNESCO. (2005). Education for all: Literacy for life. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

    Google Scholar 

  • Universidade de Coimbra. (2019). Inanimate Alice: Tradução de literatura digital em contexto educativo. Retrieved September 23, 2019, from https://www.uc.pt/fluc/clp/inv/proj/meddig/iatld.

  • Venable, J. R. (2006). The role of theory and theorising in design science research. In Proceedings of the 1st international conference on design science in information systems and technology, pp. 1–18.

  • Witek, M. A., Clarke, E. F., Wallentin, M., Kringelbach, M. L., & Vuust, P. (2014). Syncopation, body-movement and pleasure in groove music. PLoS ONE, 9(4), e94446.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zandstra, C. (2013). Bringing Inanimate Alice to life in the classroom. Words’ Worth, 46(1), 1–5.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Amanda Hovious.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hovious, A., Shinas, V.H. & Harper, I. The Compelling Nature of Transmedia Storytelling: Empowering Twenty First-Century Readers and Writers Through Multimodality. Tech Know Learn 26, 215–229 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-020-09437-7

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-020-09437-7

Keywords

  • Transmedia
  • Multimodal literacy
  • Adolescent readers
  • Language arts education