Transliteracy: TV to Online and Back Again

I think most of us will agree that in order to succeed in an increasingly multimodal environment, we require more than alphabetic literacy skills. Researchers, practitioners, educators, learners – would all agree that being transliterate and that concurrent ability to read across media and modes helps us navigate the 21st century more effectively.

Thinking about transliteracy and the reading and interacting across platforms is always on my mind…even when watching a bit of television. What I've noticed recently is a not so subtle attempt to draw viewers from the TV to the online environment, with a drive to bring this same viewers back to the TV. There are two current examples I have in mind.

First: Toyota. In a television ad. Toyota asks its viewers to share their car ownership stories on Facebook. Here then, viewers are moving from TV to the internet. But, it doesn't stop there. Once a month Toyota will choose a viewer's story which will then appear on a TV ad. as well as on Facebook. So viewers (i.e. customers) are moving back to the television. This must be an example of transliteracy and a certain kind of level of transliteracy where viewers interact as well as read in the online arena.


Second: Sutter Health. An American not-for-profit health care system asks its patients and employees to "share" their stories because "everyone has a story." Again, the tv ad. directs people to share their stories online at the Sutter Health or Facebook sites. Similarly, a portion of the stories will be chosen to air on tv, directing the viewers from the online social environment back to tv. 

Based on the ads aired by both Toyota and Sutter Health, customers are transliterate. They are able to move from one platform to another. However, is this ability synonymous with a deeper critical transliteracy? What is the ability to explore, interpret and question these information resources and how do we help teach, support and encourage these abilities?

As stated in the 2009 Horizon Report, " increasing globalization continues to affect the way we work, collaborate, and communicate. . . . Increasingly, those who use technology in ways that expand their global connections are more likely to advance, while those who do not will find themselves on the sidelines."

Note: Toyota image from Toyota Facebook page. Sutter Health image from Sutter Health site.