An increasing number of authors are designing materials that connect print and electronic resouces to tell complex, rich stories. They may incorporate audio, video, gaming, and social technologies to create synergy.
Scholastic jumped into these immersive, multimodal environments a few year ago with the popular 39 Clues series. Their Infinity Ring series by James Dashner is another example that incorporates website resources, video, and gaming across platforms. There are even teaching resources. Apps go with the books such as The King of Diamonds, Revenge of the Redcoats, and The Way of the Warrior.
Go to Twin Tales. Read the story story. At the end of each chapter, you'll find a connection to afictional newspaper website that extends the story. This format combines a traditional approach to storytelling with emerging technologies and a non-linear approach to information gathering and exploration.
Patrick Carman has been at the forefront of extending reader's experiences through online resources including card collecting, clues, and online gaming.
- The 39 Clues is a series of books by Scholastic. The adventure books contain fictional characters, but connects to famous people from history. The website materials include missions, activities, clues, and fictional websites. Apps such as Madrigal Maze and Vesper Hunt are also available.
- In the Atherton series, young people can play online games associated with the book, see artwork and explore the lost archives. By collecting clues, participants can "Unlock Dr. Harding's Brain".
- In The Lands of Elyon, participants explore the map, trace a journey, and play games.
- For younger readers, Elliot's Park encourages children to play games, explore characters, explore a park, and create their own.
- The Floors books are a combination of The Westing Game and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
- The Pulse books are for older youth.
Many of these transmedia environments connect books and television or movies. For instance, Word Girl is a character from a PBS series. The PBSKids website contains adventures and games. At Scholastic, find book tie-ins and apps.
Multi-platform storytelling, interactive storytelling, transmedia storytelling, cross-platform, deep media, cross-media, multi-platform, genre-mash, new media storytelling, reading mashups, chaotic reading, format independent, easter eggs, immersive games, collaborative fiction, hybrid, media enhancements, participatory media... are all worlds associated with the multi-platform world.
Multi-platform involves using multiple modes of communication to convey a complex, interactive story. Information flows smoothly from one media to the next. The strengths of each media create synergy. The result is something more dynamic than could be done in a single medium.
The book Nubs is a true story about a dog and a Marine in Iraq. The website includes facts about the story, a book trailer, photo gallery, and a review of the locations in the story. Use this book to start an exploration of animal and journey stories. Think about ways you could create your own multi-platform story.
In Transmedia Storytelling, integral elements of the story are told by different media and each media provides distinct contributions to the participant's understanding of the story. Participants have many different entry points into the story and are able to extend the story through their contributions.
Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman is a great example of a transmedia storytelling experience. Designed for preteens and teens, the story is written in journal form by a teenaged boy recovering from an accident. While writing in his journal, Ryan receives email communications from his friend Sarah who posts video clips at her website. The video clips are woven throughout the reading experience and are accessed by entering the passwords found throughout the book. It feels a little like the Blair Witch Project from a few years ago. This combination of text and video would be a whole-classroom reading experience. Scholastic provides classroom activities. Also, check out the mobile app.
Read Transmedia Storytelling = What's it all about? by Alison Norrington (May 2010) in FutureBook.
Beyond the Book
Expand your think thinking about books. A wide spectrum of technologies are part of this new world of publishing including ipods, iphones, playaways, and Nooks or Kindles.
Many publishers are now expanding their websites to include a wide range of games, media, and reading extensions. For instance, Hachette provides a Kid and Teen area of their website with endless games, activities, and interactive opportunities.
Multi-format Options. At the most basic level, works are adapted for different formats. For instance, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is available as a graphic novel that can also be downloaded to an i-phone. Watch a video about the translation into a graphic novel. Get students involved in writing for different formats. Consider a 140 Character Story project.
Document-Book Connections. David McCullough's 1776, The Illustrated Edition provides 130 illustrations with an abridged version of the text. In addition, 37 facsimile documents are scattered throughout the book in pouches.
Written for a young adult audience, Cathy's Book, Cathy's Key and Cathy's Ring by Sean Stewartand Jordan Weisman includes an evidence packet along with a website for each book. A website is also available for fans who want to discuss the book. The fictional character has Facebook and Flickr accounts you can visit.
Written for an adult audience, Personal Effect: Dark Arts by J.C. Hutchins and Jordon Weisman introduces an interesting multi-format approach to mystery reading. In addition to the text, the book provides a packet of materials along with supplemental website materials. These elements bring an additional dimension to the story and characters. For instance, you can explore the Brinkvale Psychiatric Hospital website to learn more about the staff of the hospital and see samples of the fictional patient artwork. The main character, Zach Taylor, has a Myspace page. You can also check out the work of Zach's girlfriend. You can even read news clips from a fictional newspaper. Finally, you can "get committed" by participating in specific online activities.
Illustration-Book Connections. Told through the eyes of a twelve-year-old boy, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larson is a wonderful example of imaginative writing combined with an innovative presentation style. While not designed specifically for young people, the book would be of interest to high ability middle school and high school readers. What makes the novel unique is the author's use of illustrations and side notes in the margins to extend the reading experience. Anwebsite also extends the experience.
Audio-Book Connections. Books and music are often connected. The John Denver series of books is one example. Recently, Peter Yarrow has begin to visualize his songs such as Puff the Magic Dragon.
Rather than a traditional book review project, try a focus. Join a book award project. Focus on a particular genre of book or type of character.
Video-Book Connections. YouTube has become a place where books and video converge. Explore Great Depression Cooking with Clara. Also check the blog, book, and other related resources. Then, create your own. Create your own alternative to traditional oral history projects. Provide an effective foundation before jumping into the project through nonfiction reading opportunities. For instanceGreatest Achievements provide an overview, timeline, and an essay on twenty topics. Then, focus on how a particular invention impacted the lives of local people.
Websites. The I Was Wondering website from the National Academy of Sciences shares information about scientists through scrpbooks, comics, games, and interactives.
Social and Participatory Technology. From Facebook links to threaded discussions, many books are making social technology connections. For instance, Journals: Middle School Love and War is an e-book and digital diary. It's also a podcast and advice column.
Gaming and Storytelling
In some cases, images, animation, audio, and video are being combined to produce a gaming environment.
Adventures. Go to interactive web documentary Journey to the End of Coal. Think about the types of adventures that young people could make themselves.
Alternative Reality Gaming (ARG). The cross-media genre of interactive fiction uses web-based resources and social technologies to engage participants in a gaming environment. Rather than immersing gamers in an artificial world, the narrative elements are accessed through a variety of real-world media such as Twitter postings and YouTube videos. Participants act as detectives following a storyline, collecting evidence, and solving puzzles to further the story. Many television shows and movies (Watchmen, District 9) have used this approach.
Real-world problem solving may play a part in these gaming environments. With funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The World Without Oil is designed to call attention to and plan for a possible near-future global oil shortage. Although the real-time game ended in 2007, you can still explore the materials and re-experience th game week by week. Lesson plans are also available.
Storytelling and Gaming. Increasingly learning games are incorporating story elements.
In Lure of the Labyrinth, middle school students work through a pre-algebra game at their own pace. With a username/password to track their progress, teachers can guide students through the series of activities two ways: using the story game approach that incorporates web comics, mazes, and quests for information OR through the use of stand-alone math puzzles. The game story approach can also be connected to language arts and mythology. Math by Design is another example from Thinkport.
In the Design a Satellite Activity, young people select the technologies needed to create a working satellite. In the end, they see how their satellite compares to a real satellite.
In Generation Cures, young people play, watch, and create as their learn about medical issues, cures, and philanthropy.
Read Transmedia Time: Synergy through Storytelling, Social Technology, Multimedia, and Gaming. Think about how the new media create synergy in your library.
Consider how this transmedia approach could be used as a part of a learning experience that combines a tutorial with aspects of storytelling. Go to the Family History site as an example. You'll need to download the HyperStudio plug-in to get the maximum impact of the project.
Read Transmedia: The Next Technology Flood by Annette Lamb to learn how to create your own transmedia experiences.
Transmedia in the Library
Because these new titles and approaches have only been around for a few years, it's not easy to find a master list of resources to purchase. Begin by searching your favorite review journals for the word "transmedia".
Read Mcdonald, Rachel & Parker, Jackie (June 1, 2013). When a story is more than paper. Young Adult Library Services. Pay particular attention to their evaluation guidelines. Available through IUPUI.