In the previous entry in the series, The Transmediated Learner, we explored fundamental concepts of disintermediation, transmediation, and how students adapt to technology systems while embracing the symbology of each. This enables learners to move creatively from one to the other, the juxtaposition of diverse learning systems establishing a creative resonance that traditional learners, usually their parents and teachers, find difficult to follow. In this entry, we explore these ideas further.
How can you imagine supporting this creative transmediation in the classroom in a way that taps into the power of self-transmediated learners?
Transmediation is the process of recreating the meaning of a text from one medium to another. Transmediation can be recreated using many different sign systems, such as photography, music, art, dance, video, comic, podcast, website, and many others. A child’s creativity can be enhanced using many of these different sign systems. The materials available to children in today’s society allow this enhancement of creativity. [emphasis mine] Source: Child’s Creativity in Transmediation
What materials are available in today’s society that allow for creativity enhancements? Technology, of course!
In her article, Literacy Through Photography for English Language Learners, Dr. Tabitha Dell’Angelo points out that Paulo Friere defined literacy as broader than the written word. Rather, it was the “ability to understand the word and the world.” Transmediated learners are constantly exploring the gap between the label (a.k.a. the word) others have assigned to something and the world of experience they are involved in. With technology, they are able to explore that world in ways that have seldom been available to others. This is important since working with photos and images can deepen students’ experience, which is critical for those who see life as a series of memorable experiences:
The use of photographs provides a novel way to engage in analyzing text. Students can verbally describe their observations, ideas, and analysis in addition to listening to the ideas of their classmates. The use of photographs allows students to reflect and organize their thoughts in a creative way that cannot be achieved simply through writing. And for many students, this practice provides needed scaffolding for processing and organizing their thoughts in order to be ready to write about them. Source: Literacy Through Photography for English Language Learners
Let’s explore each of these ideas in turn:
1) Students can verbally describe their observations, ideas, and analysis in addition to listening to the ideas of their classmates.
Many technologies enable students to describe their observations and ideas, such as the use of what has traditionally been known as “digital storytelling” or narrated slideshow tools. For example, friends Richard Byrne, Wes Fryer and colleague Jenn Judkins describe this collection of tools (e.g. UTellStory, Present.me, Explain Everything, Adobe Voice, 30HandsLearning, Shadow Puppet EDU, HaikuDeck, and EduCreations) as a way to create narrated, or audio, slideshows (ok, maybe I threw some others in, too!). These tools work similarly, allowing students to collect images or photos and then sequence them, adding audio to each.
At the end, you have a video that captures the students’ voice on a slideshow. Similarly, other tools are being used as well to create stories that begin and end in a day, as suggested by burgeoning tutorials with SnapChat. Creating a context for teachers for this to occur is critical and can scaffold their understanding of transmediated learners’ efforts to make sense of stories with one foot in various virtual worlds. To that end, teachers may consider the 5E+T Model as one keyhole to peer through.
2) Use images to reflect.
Images can be used to facilitate curiosity and reflection, and we are seeing students’ use of Instagram and Snapchat increasing. Photographs, which appear on Instagram feeds almost constantly, are stimulated by the desire to capture insights and experiences. And we are motivated out of curiosity to see them. Students have been organizing their photos in ways that enable them to learn more about their subject, to place them in familiar and unfamiliar situations.
Designing and creating chatbooks (a.k.a. tinybooks, minibooks) about non-fiction and fiction images enables students to make sense of their daily experience and share it in a way that engages others. This may seem like the furthest thing from classroom experience, yet it is amazing how powerful this learning can be.
3) Organize their thoughts in anticipation of writing.
How can learners take advantage of the strategies Dr. Dell’Angelo suggests when viewing images and photos? One approach may include OneNote, a free tool for, well, everyone! Since you may not be familiar with OneNote, think of it as a shared notebook that makes it quite easy to organize audio, images, videos, and text in one place, as well as facilitates distribution of documents with powerful add-ons designed for the classroom (e.g. Class Notebook). This includes collaborative whitespaces, and it is easy to imagine students working with OneNote to create a shared space where they can draw, write, type, and work in mathematical equations to make their thinking visible. Learning to organize concepts, understanding, and ideas, and do so collaboratively, can be quite powerful.
For example, consider the idea behind Mrs. Barker’s Creative Collaboration in OneNote: ReWrite the Story (the source for The Battle Bunny image shown to the right):
The Battle Bunny plot is simple. A young boy named Alex has no interest in the sappy picture book ‘Birthday Bunny’ that his grandma found at a garage sale. So he decides to rewrite the story and create a more wickedly enticing adventure of his own. With some creative and villainous editing by Alex, Birthday Bunny becomes Battle Bunny, and the adventure begins…I just knew this idea would engage our reluctant writers and they too would want to have a go at rewriting Birthday Bunny, adding text and graffitied pictures, to create their own story. This is exactly what the publisher, Walker Books, encourages the students to do, and they even offer a free PDF download of the original Birthday Bunny text to get them started.
Learning to work with images, from annotating them to modifying them as in the Battle Bunny example, can yield benefits to millennials and Gen Z youth who are accustomed to working with pictures. Blending those with audio or narrated slideshows, as well as remixing existing content, helps them make content their own.