Although there are media literacy traditionalists who view technology and media literacy as frenemies, I see the two as a match made in heaven. My recent exposure to a glamorous technology fairy tale with a happy ending (“The Future of the Book”) engendered high hopes for a long term romance between technology and media literacy education.“The Future of the Book” is a short 5-minute video crafted by the amazing designers at IDEO (in the business of “serious play”). In the video, IDEO spectacularly forecasts the specific ways in which digital technologies will shape and support learner-centered experiences via three tablet prototypes: Nelson, Coupland and Alice. All three have epic implications for information literacy across organizations, popping the big questions P-16 educators ask on a daily basis: What information is worth knowing? and How do we individually and collectively/collaboratively navigate the vast sea of information? 

  • Nelson is a reading experiences that “comprises multiple perspectives to allow you to see the bigger picture,” through discovering the impact of writings based on context—public opinion, debate and ongoing discussions. “You can see how the discourse unfolds over time.”
  • Coupland “helps to determine key reading materials based on your professional network.” You can create reading lists, book clubs and discussions that can be shared across organizations and institutions. “No water cooler required.”

But the possibilities are as numerous as the stars with the third prototype: Alice. Read/watch/listen closely as IDEO spins a romantic tale :

Stories unfold and develop through the reader’s active participation, blurring the lines between reality and fiction. Unexpectedly, the reader stumbles upon plot twists and turns embedded in the stories that are unlocked by performing certain actions, such as being at certain geographical locations, communicating with the characters in the stories, or contributing to the stories themselves. By performing these actions, the reader co-develops the story and gains access to secret events, character back stories and new chapters. Contextual details about people, object and places are also revealed. In time, a non-linear narrative emerges, allowing the reader to immerse themselves in the story from multiple angles.

Alice is a wonderland in its use of transmedia storytelling to innovate both education and the book as an instructional medium. I see a pedagogical paradise on the horizon—one that is inquiry-based, learner-centered, collaborative, and catalyzes digital and media literacy education. It’s also worth noting that Alice beautifully facilitates the Core Principles of Media Literacy Education set forth by the National Association for Media Literacy Education. 

May Alice and Media Literacy live happily ever after.

Technology, Transmedia and Happily Ever After
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