Non-Traditional Literacy

Presently, much literacy content is delivered by ‘traditional’ means. Whether that is actually in print, e-book or other electronic formats, the printed page remains the core medium.  As a School Library Media Specialist, storytelling is at the core of what I do each and every day. Over the years, I have seen many children who struggle with reading because of a lack of engagement with traditional books and stories. 

The new media that surrounds educators and learners forced me to rethink the concept of storytelling for our 21st-century learners. After some experimenting within my classes, I found a way to successfully engage and capture the attention of all of my students. As a result of this, a new model of storytelling emerged for me: Transmedia. Transmedia practices within education are on the rise because our learners are accustomed to consuming highly customized media experiences out of school, and crave and deserve to have those same experiences in school.

Transmedia is important in education today because young people are surrounded by platforms and devices, transmedia storytelling meets students where they are ready to learn.  They want to share, participate in, create, shape and personalize their learning experience.  The world is their platform and content is ubiquitous and narrative is a powerful force in connecting those things.

As a media specialist, I try to teach the students to interpret the world beyond text and to seek out immersive learning experiences such as the free, online, digital story, Inanimate Alice.  By extending elements of their storyline across multiple spaces, Inanimate Alice provides an interactive, multi-layered experience that meets our learners where they are ready to learn.

View the official trailer to the series here:

View another trailer for the series narrated by me, which tells a bit of my experience with the series:

Inanimate Alice exemplifies the transmedia form by extending content across multiple platforms. This non-traditional literacy experience assails every part of the child’s senses through video, text, image, animation, music, gaming. The series is nonlinear and episodic.  Each episode is a self-contained story that requires user action to drive the narrative forward.  The chapters become more complex as the narrative unfolds reflecting Alice’s age and competency as she develops towards her calling as a game animator and designer. 

As Alice’s journey has progressed, we have seen new storylines appear elsewhere providing more details and insights, enriching the tale through surprising developments. The core narrative is on the home website, but Alice’s storyworld has continued to grow exponentially.  In addition to the episodes, further adventures have appeared as outreach experiences elsewhere.

I am thrilled to announce that just today, Inanimate Alice has launched a new episode and website!  In Inanimate Alice Episode 5: Hometown 2, Alice is 16 years old.  As an aspiring game designer she has grown up constantly on the move. Now, she finds that the so-called stable hometown life she yearned for is far from perfect. Bored and restless, she skates into deep trouble. 

A preview of episode 5 can be seen here:

A powerful piece of a transmedia experience is the opportunity to become producers of content.  It is imperative that students learn to express themselves through different media forms if we expect them to succeed in today’s world.  They must be able to discern the strengths and weaknesses of platforms, understand the best possible way to communicate through each, and learn the production process for various narrative formats. In the case of Inanimate Alice, students are encouraged to co-create developing episodes of their own, either filling in the gaps or developing new strands. Students all over the world have remixed, mashed up and created their own next episodes for the series.  As a part of the website, there is a showcase of incredible fan-made episodes and art in the new CREATE Gallery. Here you will see videos, paintings and music submissions from students. 
Want to showcase yours?  Tweet your creations to #iteachalice

An essential part of Alice’s journey is discussing the creative tools she uses to tell her story and develop her career prospects. Students following in Alice’s footsteps will have an essential grounding in digital storytelling.  You can even now sign up for a FREE copy of Alice's journal—how she made episode 5, with tips and cheats from her digital friend, Brad.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 12.06.51 PM

This global story is now available in 7 languages: French, German, Italian, Spanish, English and new translations into Japanese and Indonesian.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 10.46.24 AM

Connect with Inanimate Alice:
Twitter:  @inanimatealice