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From Print to Digital: Composing Multimodal Texts Through Transmediation

By Sohee Park
 | Mar 17, 2017
301270317-TILE_w220

Transmediation refers to “student’s translation of content from one sign system into another.” Writing a story based on a photo or creating an iMovie book trailer about a novel are two examples of transmediation. transmediating print-based text into digital multimodal text, by introducing the benefits and some evidence-based transmediating tasks for use in K–12 classrooms.

Benefits of transmediating a print-based text into a digital multimodal text

Research studies report at least three positive impacts of transmediating a print-based text into digital multimodal text on students’ learning: deeper understandings of content, creative expressions of ideas, and promoted analytic conversations.

1. Deeper Understandings of Content. Transmediation develops students’ understandings of specific literary and informational text. In More Than Writing-To-Learn: Using Multimodal Writing Tasks in Science Classrooms, for instance, Mark McDermott reported that students who composed multimodal texts on the scientific
content that they learned from a textbook understood the content better than before the activity; students who created more integrated multimodal texts showed better understanding of the content than others.

2. Creative Expressions of Ideas. According to Marjorie Siegel and Jason Ranker, transmediation enables students to be creative through making new connections and meanings between different modes. For example, if a student reads an informational text about volcanoes and wants to compose a video about the stages of eruption using interactive whiteboard apps (e.g., Scoodle Jam or Educreations), the student should go through a series of complex cognitive processes: comprehending written information, creating linguistic mental representations of the comprehended information, transforming the linguistic mental representations to visual and audio mental representations, and applying it on the apps. During these processes, students utilize their creativity and imagination to transform linguistic mental representations into other modal representations.

3. Promoted Analytic Conversations. Some transmediation tasks accompany analytic conversations between students. In Jennifer McCormick’s study on how transmediation fosters analytical conversations among middle school students, the conversations occurred when a student’s connections between the known and the invented modes were not apparent to other students. In Øystein Gilje’s work, students had analytic conversations while they collaborated for the transmediation of a student’s written synopsis into a film. To further clarify the author’s intention or for collaborative multimodal composition, having analytic conversations during the transmediation activities helped students improve understanding of the task and content as well as oral language skills.

Evidence-based tasks for transmediation through digital multimodal composition

There are some evidence-based tasks for transmediation using digital multimodal composition. The table presents exemplary tasks using literary texts at three different levels.

 

Elementary School
(Grades K–5)

Middle School
(Grades 6–8)

High School
(Grades 9–12)

Transmediating Tasks Using
Literary Texts

  • The BFG by Roald Dahl—A micro-documentary including an introduction by a narrator, an observation, re-enactment of events, and an interview of the main characters (Mills, 2011)

Transmediation can be done with informational texts in a variety of content areas. One thing that should be emphasized in all lessons about transmediation is that metalanguages such as glossaries of filmmaking and technical aspects of digital tools should be taught in advance for the successful implementation of the transmediation activities.

This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association’s Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

SoheePark_80w

Sohee Park is a doctoral candidate specializing in literacy education at the University of Delaware. Her research interest centers on best practices for instruction and assessment of digital multimodal composition.

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