The integration of IT in education, its optimity to the everyday reality of both students and teachers, but a lot of authors, like Martinez Salanova (2002), said already that technology, from computer to YouTube and everything in between, such smartphones, are here to stay. The same author defines the term of “digital memory”, understood as the ability given by technology, but especially the Internet, to have access to tons of information that hardly could we manage in the past or set up in a traditional library. There’s also a more important aspect we can’t forget: the continuous interaction with other users, other producers of contents, that allows us a constant exchange of information, inspiration and knowledge of new techniques, creating, therefore, some strong synergies that hard to compare with any other moment in history.
Besides that, our students are used to these new communication channels, no matter if they are official or not, and they ask more and more to be not just consumers, but producers: they want to express themselves, especially on an audiovisual context and, of course, in the ubiquitous social media. In these new ways of expression, we can’t deny it, banality plays an important role, and it’s extremely easy for our students to be captured by the last stupid trend, challenge or whatever would have become popular at the moment, especially in these Social media that are in the crest of the wave, such as Instagram and Tik Tok. It is also more and more common for our new generations to use YouTube as the main source for information, non-formal learning. They can spend hours and hours alternating among tutorials, prank videos, songs, crash courses they might find useful for some of their lessons and millions of other videos and shows. We can say they have taught themselves how to use all these new resources, and probably they could teach us about that. In any case, we should avoid the temptation of thinking that, just because they have some powerful technical skills they are mature enough to freely use these resources, to avoid bias, misinterpretation or manipulation. Here is the place where us teachers have a serious role to play, and this is the field we are going to call transmedia literacy.
Scolari (2008) establishes that transmedia literacy should have to focus, therefore, in three lines of work: videogames literacy, internet and social media literacy and in the participative cultures. Without any intention of considering the last one as less relevant, we will focus our attention in the two first aspects.
Regarding the literacy processes related with internet and the social media Hartley (2009) proposed that the young people, since their childhood, develop what he called an “experimental compromise” with their equals and their contexts, especially in sectors or cultures where the ideas of DIY (Do it Yourself) and DIWO (Do It With Others) without passing any specific filter of an academic institution of any kind. That way, the young people develop by themselves, in a very intuitive way and with the help of social media. Therefore, our students learn how to navigate the web, correct or modify a picture (at a very simple and intuitive level, of course) photo, audio or video edition and how to communicate and elaborate their own digital identity, although this is primitive. If we take this reality for granted and we leave for a second the ivory tower of the academic world we would discover how a lot of very respected professional from different sectors, but especially those related somehow with technology, learnt their skills and whatever made them relevant outside a formal education of any kind.
Using that self-acquired literacy of our students would be the perfect starting point for implementing our developed transmedia literacy: instead of starting from zero, we just need to improve, to polish some of the aspects that usually are not even related with the technological aspects, such as their maturity, the proper access and curation of the contents, but we know already that they handle the digital world at least at the same level (and probably better) than us. In aspects like the edition of video, photo or audio, if we don’t have any specific education, we will find that they know better than us how to deal with apps and other resources to obtain the results they were looking for. It would be necessary, therefore, to pay attention to them, allowing the students to give us recommendations and making them participants of our initiatives.
Regarding the second section, it is imperative to know how participative culture develops nowadays, and the answer is quite obvious: this culture develops today basically related to internet: the role played in the past by the community, the public spaces, the closer people, their value as transmitters of the reality, culture and knowledge is nowadays in the hands of thousands of webpages, social media, forum, videos that show us almost everything: from the tribal specification to the vast knowledge of the global village. In these new informal learning, given mostly among equals that give and take resources and pieces of information the learners (it is not consequent to call them students) are at the same time instructors and apprentices, receiving and giving added value to the Internet.
It is obvious, therefore, the existence of a gap between the more or less natural, organic and intuitive way used by the students to learn from the media and the internet and the slow, extremely rigid and structured way that those same skills could be acquired on an academic environment, the so-called “digital dissonance”. The best way to stop it could be to allow the students to be more than mere receivers of information, skills and knowledge, but give them the chance to take an active part on the development of new patterns of learning based on the systems and strategies they have developed for their informal, individual learning, acquiring, therefore, a more active role that could make them become the teachers of their own partners, and, in most of the case, even their own teachers.