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Books, Movies, and Civic Engagement

Discussion — a powerful driver of learning — doesn't play nearly as big a role in the classroom as one might think, says Professor Robert Selman, faculty co-chair of HGSE's new professional education institute, Books, Movies, and Civic Engagement: Learning through Transmedia Storytelling. "Transmedia," he says, " is a way to facilitate conversation."

Transmedia storytelling — telling a single story across multiple media platforms — as a means to help students engage with challenging cultural issues of civic responsibility, diversity, and social justice can be an important tool in the classroom, especially in an age where students are finding it increasingly difficult to see over the wall between their school lives and their "real" lives.

"One of the great things about transmedia building around popular books, and then turning them into perhaps even more popular movies, is that it helps kids get over that wall," says Senior Lecturer Joe Blatt, faculty co-chair of the institute, "and start to bring into the classroom — for more reflective and richer conversation — things they are encountering in the real world."

In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Selman and Blatt reflect on 21st-century learning through transmedia storytelling, and take a look at some examples of transmedia done well.

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The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts, available on the Harvard University iTunes U page, that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.


An education podcast that keeps the focus simple: what makes a difference for learners, educators, parents, and communities

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