The Creative Edge

Corporate Training Trends 2017: Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Transmedia Training

You’ve got a hot new training initiative on your plate and a raft of leadership sponsors championing this new change. Somehow, all of the skills and approaches that you’ve used in the past don’t seem up to this task. You need a way to drive lasting change across your organization and an e-learn and workshop just won’t do it.

Ever heard of transmedia training? Transmedia training uses transmedia storytelling to fully engage learners across a variety of media, pulling in elements of serious games, social learning, and multimedia.

This new approach to training and development takes its cues from Hollywood, advertising, and the gaming industry. Transmedia storytelling was coined by media studies professor Henry Jenkins, who used the 1999 science fiction blockbuster film, The Matrix, as an example. The full storyline of The Matrix is told over the course of three movies, animated short films, video games, and comic books. Each medium tells a different aspect of the futuristic world being portrayed. In order to fully understand all the elements, characters, and their backstories, all of the mediums must be consumed. However, each separate element is also a full story, unto itself.

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In the same way, transmedia training goes beyond the multimedia that is experienced in a well- designed elearning module to pull learners into a rich story that teaches even as it engages.

Transmedia training has four hallmarks:

  • It uses storytelling (such as the framework of the classic Hero’s Journey)
  • The learner or learner’s proxy is at the center of the story. Learning content is related back to these characters, throughout.
  • The story is told across a variety of mediums, such as video, printed material, live experiences, and through social channels.
  • Learners are active participants in the construction of the learning story, finding pieces of the story in various media throughout the story/learning arc.
Stages of the Hero's Journey

So, how could you take this hot new training initiative and make it sing with a transmedia training approach?

Start with the story. How can you create a story that is in sync with the Learner’s Journey? At AMP, we ground our learning campaigns in narrative-based learning. Our backgrounds as cinematic storytellers informs our style of learning design. And our backgrounds in marketing campaigns means that transmedia learning campaigns just make sense to us — why not use social media, videos, elements of gaming, printed materials, and more to deliver a training message? At the heart, it’s transformative storytelling — and that’s what we love to do!

Develop the characters. These personas are the vehicles for the story. Can it be told through a first-person narrative, where the learner is the hero or heroine? Are there characters who act as “stand-ins” or proxies for the learner? If so, are they easy for the learner to identify with?

transmedia training

Once you have your story, the fun part begins. How can you deliver different aspects to your learners? What channels are available in your workplace? Identifying the methods of delivery for your story and don’t cross anything off your list. What are all the places that your learner encounters work messaging? Nothing is off-bounds when it comes to transmedia training—you want to create connections and unique presentations of your training story. Consider the following:

  • Emails
  • Conference calls
  • Messaging/texting
  • Posters
  • Flyers
  • Intranet
  • Wikis
  • Videos
  • Instructor-led training
  • Team meetings
video data

Your first transmedia training experiences might be as simple as a main elearning that has additional story-based elements sent out via email and extension on posters throughout your campus. Experiment and see what works within your organization. Someday soon, you may be launching a transmedia training experience that includes immersion in a virtual reality scenario, content creation “crowd sourced” from your employees, and interactive activities in your instructor-led training.

Consider pushing the learning envelope beyond the single, targeted training. Consider a story-based transmedia training campaign.

Feel that tingling in your fingertips? That's the urge to get your digital training & development project started today.

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About Amy Lou Abernethy

With her passion for education, her storyteller's instincts, and her years of experience in video production, Amy Lou has a unique blend of talents that she brings to AMP's clients. Her current passions are interactive digital environments and growing a company with heart.

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