Transmediation

Melanie Hibbert | March 30, 2011

Kress (2010) introduces the concept of transduction, also referred to as transmediation by Siegel (1995), which means translating an idea from one mode to another mode. For example, this might be translating an essay into a video, or translating mathematics problems into comics. Siegel argues that this type of semiosis, or meaning-making, helps students develop their “semiotic toolkits,” and that these types of activities can create more accessible entry points for students to engage with curriculum.

At an after-school program where I work at, we did a workshop recently where we listened to the NAS/Lauryn Hill song “If I ruled the world,” and the participants created collages based on this song. I think it’s really interesting how students “translated” the song in different ways. For example, a couple of the adolescents focused on the actual lyrics, creating imagery based on diamonds, pearls, and other luxurious items; others interpreted the “mood” of the music, or the emotional feeling of it, assembling colorful or party-type scenes expressing the upbeat tempo. Another student created portraits of the singers, piecing together a man and a female. This is just one small example of the different meanings produced from moving from one mode to another mode. To quote Siegel (1995, p. 456), “transmediation increases students’ opportunities to engage in generative and reflective thinking because learners must invent a connection between the two sign systems, as the connection does not exist before.”