Divergent convergence: Divergent resources: multiplatform, transmedia worlds

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. Turtlepond Publications is another publisher that provided extensive web-based connections for books such as Owen & Mzee, Knut, Miza and Winter's Tail.

Skeleton CreekIn 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. Check out the author website and a fan site. Scholastic provides classroom activities.

Explore each of the following areas of divergence resources: beyond the book, author and publisher websites, web-based learning resources, and gaming and virtual worlds.

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.

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.

Cathy's bookWritten for a young adult audience, Cathy's Book, Cathy's Key and Cathy's Ring by Sean Stewart and 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. The The Amanda Project also contains social elements such as an experience website and fictional school website.

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. An website 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.

Kaleb Nation created music to go with his book Brian Hambric. Listen to the music that goes with the book.

J.C. Hutchins is known for his podcast thriller 7th Son. This book jumpstarted a group called the Ministry of Online Propaganda.

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. Check out the podcasts focusing on characters and freedom from Mrs. Newton.

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 instance Greatest Achievements provide an overview, timeline, and an essay on twenty topics. Then, focus on how a particular invention impacted the lives of local people.

authors & publishers websites

One of the easiest ways to integrate new technologies is through the use of author and publisher websites.

Author Websites. No longer are author websites simply biographical information. 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.
  • 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.

James Patterson - (ReadKiddoRead) is another author that provides resources to go with books.

  • Witch & Wizard. Get to know the main characters through their profiles. Then, create your own character profile and blog entries. Use the Profile Publisher tool and lessons from ReadWriteThink for ideas.

The World of Brian P. Cleary provides online and printed activities to accompany math and science books. Idea: Build books, printed materials, and website activities into a learning center.

Book Websites. In many cases, websites are developed for individual books such as The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow by Tim Keho. Ideas: Begin with the toy timeline. Add existing items, add new ideas, create future items. Use online timelines tools:

A Dog's Life by Ann M. Martin contains a tools for building your own dog story.

Series Websites. Because of the interest in series, websites often provide a jumping off spot for information about the world or setting of a series such as Septimus Heap, Mysterious Benedict Society, or Magic Tree House.

Character Websites. Websites often focus on a particular character featured in a series.

  • The Mallory website contains information about each character. Idea: Ask students what's missing from the character description.
  • The Horrid Henry website provides a roll-over visual showing characters. Idea: Create your own roll-over in PowerPoint. Idea: Listen to a story, then record your own. Submit your own jokes.
  • Other examples include Junie B. and MacKenzie Blue.

Allie FinkleSocial Websites. Some authors are focusing on a club-like atmosphere. The Fairy Godmother Academy by Jan Bozarth combines cards, clues, and online activities. The online presence also includes a music element. Online participants can participate in games, view galleries, and explore an encyclopedia of Aventurine. Costumes and dressing avatars is a popular aspect.

  • Social Technology Tools. Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls by Meg Cabot has some social technology features for younger learners including polls and rating systems.
  • Book Clubs and Reading Groups. Websites such as LibraryThing and Good Reads are book-specific places where people gather. Facebook is an example of a more general social network used to promote books.

web-based learning resources

When we think about reading as part of the learning process, tradebooks and textbooks come to mind. What if we no longer had paper books? Consider the wide range of electronic reading materials available to teachers and students.

There are many ways to infuse website materials into teaching and learning:

  • Historical Footage, Global Perspective. Budworm City is a video from 1957 showing how the pesticide DDT was used in the 1950s.
  • Current Events and Documentary. The PBS program FrontLine provides a great overview of Poisoned Waters.
  • Local News. Read and watch a news report about human waste in the river in Indianapolis.
  • Authentic Resources and Tools. Rather than simply providing links to text, images, or videos, develop scenarios that will bring these resources to life and kickstart use of the these materials. Go to the Biological Indicators of Watershed Health page from the EPA. Ask students to write a fictional report that incorporates at least two of these creatures.

Diary of a Wimpy KidElectronic Books. From web comics to e-novels, online reading has come a long way. Read Inanimate Alice and The Winter House.

Fun Brain was an early leader with titles such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid. This series began as a web book. Fablevision was another early innovator with book such as North Star. Check out free books at Wowio. Web comics such as Copper are growing in popularity. Also, explore webcomics at TopWebComics and KidJutSu. Website such as Storybird, Big Universe and Tikatok provide areas where students can read books or create their own. Wit Comiqs for Graphic Projects, with Pixton you can create cartoons and with GoAnimate they can animate their own stories too.

Engaging Websites. The I Was Wondering website from the National Academy of Sciences shares information about scientists through scrpbooks, comics, games, and interactives.

Journals and Online Tools. Go to American Museum of Natural History's Science Bulletins. Download the Google Earth KMZ and see the events around the world.

Interactive Readings. Many museums are using interactives as a way to promote exhibits, but also as a way to promote content area skills through reading, writing, and interactive learning experiences. For instance, Anthropology from Ology is a great introduction to the Silk Road that includes art, music, math and science along with social studies topics.

Website such as Annenberg Interactives provide environments that combine words, images, animation, tools, and activities. In Geometry 3D Shapes, young people read, manipulate hands-on materials, and use online tools.

Social Tools. Increasingly websites are incorporating social tools such as Flickr and YouTube. Check out My Moon.

Pathfinders. The key to infusing online materials is the development of pathfinders to guide young people to the resources needed for particular assignments. Check out the Australia pathfinder.

Gaming and virtual worlds

ZebrafishImmerse students in virtual environments to play, explore, and learn.

Immersive Games. In Generation Cures, young people play, watch, and create as their learn about medical issues, cures, and philanthropy. Out of the game, came a great new graphic novel called Zebrafish.

Augmented Reality. Some projects incorporate elements of Augmented Reality. This involves connecting a real or fictional story to a real or fictional place. The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi takes place in an alternate universe. A graphic from the book is used to enter and explore an interactive map. Participants can see this world using the viewing devices in the book along with a website. Watch a video of The Search for Wondla AR from YouTube.

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 (FlashForward) and movies (Watchmen, District 9) have used this approach. Examples can be found at Fourth Wall Studios, Wikibruce, and Unfiction Forum.

Real-World Problem-solving

  • The World Without Oil. With funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, this ARG 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.
  • Routes: Discover the Secrets in Your Genes. Through mini-games, a documentary and a murder mystery, explore the world of genetics.
  • Traces of Hope from British Red Cross. Help someone find a Red Cross representative.

Applications are often different than we envisioned. We often get something different than we expect. When growing up I expected moving highways, instead we got voice activated GPS. I expected to beam to other words, instead we have Virtual Reality. For adults, we have Second Life and for young people immersive worlds such as Quest Atlantis.

Story-based Learning Games. When gaming elements are added to storytelling, exciting narrative learning games emerge. Ko's Journey is an immersive, online interactive middle school math game and curriculum supplement.

World Building. Henry Jenkins refers to world-making as "the process of designing a fictional universe that will sustain franchise development, one that is sufficiently detailed to enable many different stories to emerge but coherent enough so that each story feels like it fits with the others"

Transmedia. Jenkins has identified "Seven Key Principles of Transmedia Entertainment". Think about ways that these could be incorporated into the environments we design for children and the worlds they create for themselves.

  1. Drillability. Placing time and effort in vertical descent into a story's complexities. Rather than spreading the content thin, add depth to the learning experience.
  2. Multiplicity. Traditionally when we think of content, we think of different ways to express the same idea. For instance, the book, the comic, and the movie have continuity. They tell the same story simply using different media. However another approach is to use the unique nature of each media to tell a slightly different story, to expand the characters or look at a different aspect of the story. This enhances the experience rather than simply duplicating the experience. Pride and Prejudice becomes Pride, Prejudice and Zombies.
  3. Immersion & Extractability. At the heart of remix and mashups is lifting exciting aspects from one story and infusing them into new works.
  4. World Building. The story is just the beginning in a world building environment where participants experience and create new worlds for the characters. The setting of the story takes a life of its own others are invited to create characters, places, and artifacts for the world. This can be created by a single author and illustrator or by participants.
  5. Seriality. Increasingly the world is filled with ongoing stories dispensed in chunks over time and across media. Web comics are a linear example.
  6. Subjectivity. Many genre are telling a story through multiple points of view. This allows many media to be used. In the book Skelton Creek, the book is presented as a journal from one character's view and the videos are told from the view of another character.
  7. Performance. With the tools of technology, anyone can be a storyteller. When many people get together, they can create outstanding productions. The Hunt for Gollum is an independently produced film inspired by Lord of the Rings and created by fans. Young people don't just need to watch film, they can build their own and become active content creators.

Go to Next Part 3: Convergent

| Fluid | Overview | Thinking | Divergent | Convergent | Making it Happen | Conclusion