Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants




School of Communications


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range





At a webinar with Andrea Phillips, author of A Creator's Guide to Transmedia Storytelling, I asked what we are all wondering, How do we teach transmedia production at the university level? Her answer appealed to my risk-taking nature, just make them do it. They will make mistakes and paint themselves into a corner, and that is good. Returning from my sabbatical with much naiveté, I began my quest to just make them do it in the winter 2014 semester of New Media II. The course was facing cancellation at mid semester, with only nine students registered. At any other time, this would be dire news of likely cancelation. Instead, it became an opportunity to open the class up to other majors and form an actual transmedia team. We invited Computer Science, Writing, Marketing, Public Relations, Advertising, and Art majors to join our Film Video class. Junior-senior majors from almost any discipline could lend a voice and find a place on a transmedia team. We were finally in a position to offer an interdisciplinary media production opportunity. The class did fill and eventually went over the cap by two. Based on talents and interests, we formed a story team, game team, promotions team and social media team, among others. One student became the transmedia producer, another story runner. The students chose the storyworld bible keeper, and the lead computer programmer chose himself. The open questions that will be answered in this paper presentation are many. Did any of the students go rogue and take the story off course? Did the audience respond? Did the university administrators allow us to install our own pop machine with can labels printed with clues to the mysterious portal that played a central role in the story? Answers to these questions and more were recorded in the twice-weekly journal entries required from the students and instructor. This paper will synthesize responses from the journals and offer the results of this experiment and practical advice to those ready to teach transmedia production. This presentation will include a full disclosure of mistakes, successes, frustrations, and how we painted ourselves into corners, and that it was good.

Conference Name

University Film & Video Association

Conference Location

Bozeman, Montana

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