Transmedia for education in museums


21 August, 2014

Transmedia for education in museums

Advances brought by the Internet and new technologies have changed the way we tell stories. Today, we aspire to create a media narrative in which the viewer becomes the creator, a new form of narrative called “transmedia storytelling.” This concept was first used in 2003 by the American MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) scholar Henry Jenkins, when referring to the way in which one or several interlocking stories could be told using different technology platforms. We could say, therefore, that the transmedia narrative seeks to build interactive stories combining multiple media and communication platforms, making for more dynamic and engaging content.

The main objective of this new narration concept is to involve the user, awakening in him an interest that leads him to participate in the construction of the discourse. There are several strategies that can be used to achieve this purpose. On one hand, the fact that the narrative does not follow a linear pattern, but dispersed in a plot that involves multiple media sources, allows the viewer to develop his seeking behavioral pattern and curiosity, encouraging him to re-compose or structure the disrupted speech. This is aimed to involve the user not only physically, but also mentally, which favors greater depth in the topic presented. In this regard, MACBA’s Recorridos (Itineraries) section, a space designed for users to create transversal itineraries for the contents of the web (audios, videos, artist profiles, works, texts, publications, exhibitions, etc.) is a noteworthy initiative.

Another option is to incorporate gamification, which transforms a non-recreational activity into another in which the user is encouraged to participate. The application used by the Naval Museum, Chronos, an adventure in the Naval Museum, is a good example. It uses gaming elements to engage children, but without losing sight of the purpose of the application, ie, to generate interest and raise awareness of the collection.

Thus, transmedia narrative is emerging as an effective tool to attract, or rather, hook – young audiences to museums. This kind of audience is precisely one of the hardest sectors to retain. It is unusual to see teenagers walking the halls of museums on their own initiative, and their presence is usually reduced to school visits. This generation of young people has grown up around ICT, and prefers action to passive reflection.

In this sense, it is up to the museum to make the most of the possibilities that new technologies offer to spark their interest in art and culture. An interesting project in this regard is the one launched by Indiana State Museum in conjunction with Ball State University. Thirty young people were involved in creating a fictional story in which reference was made to actual pieces of the museum’s collection. The result was an e-book entitled The Avenue of Truth, from which a web page and a number of multimedia content were designed.

Ultimately, transmedia narrative offers museums the possibility of spreading their discourse in multiple formats, reaching larger audiences and promoting interactivity. It is an original alternative to traditional practices that expands the possibilities of museum experience.