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Icon for: Julia Griffin

JULIA GRIFFIN

WETA, New Knowledge Organization Ltd.

Experiments in Transmedia: Studying Techniques for Increasing STEM Content Ac...

NSF Awards: 1516347

2017 (see original presentation & discussion)

Adult learners

PBS NewsHour wanted to know the best way to reach early career adults – those between 18 and 35 who are out of school – with science information. With all the cord-cutting going on among millennials and others, broadcast cannot remain the only path to engaging this group with informal science learning.  In collaboration with New Knowledge Organization (NKO), the NewsHour designed a project that would build our understanding of how to advance this demographic’s STEM knowledge, competencies, and skills, all of which are critical in today’s world. To this end, selected stories created for the NewsHour’s broadcast and website are being repackaged for delivery on multiple digital platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. This layered adaptation of content allows the research team, led by Dr. John Fraser and Su-Jen Roberts of NKO, to identify attributes of the platforms that encourage this digitally oriented generation to consume and share stories. This insight into optimal attributes will provide a foundation for guidelines shaping the development of STEM media aimed at this group.  The video created for this event highlights transmedia examples created under this project by science team members Julia Griffin and Dr. Nsikan Akpan as well as their News Assistants. The quick montage explains what has been produced so far and provides a succinct overview of what has been learned. (Please note although the home state of the grantee is VA, this project is a national one.)

 

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Original Discussion from the 2017 STEM for All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Julia Griffin

    Julia Griffin

    Lead Presenter
    Producer
    May 14, 2017 | 08:02 p.m.

    Thank you for taking the time to watch this video profiling the Experiments in Transmedia project. We'd love to share with you some of the preliminary information we've already gathered about how 18 to 35-year-olds engage with science information on social media platforms. What interests you about millennials and digital learning? What observations do you have on how they engage with news media, particularly on science topics? Please leave any questions or comments you might have regarding our project. We look forward to hearing from you!

  • Icon for: Julia Geschke

    Julia Geschke

    May 16, 2017 | 10:09 a.m.

    As a millennial interested in science (wildlife management background) this caught my eye. Definitely agree that almost no one I know is watching traditional news broadcasts. Snapchat video stories and Instagram posts are a good way to connect. I might be biased since I'm already interested in science, but I think there is a contingent of millennials who would like to follow tumblr blogs, facebook pages, or similar things to learn about new advancements in science or the big scientific issues of our time.

  • Icon for: Julia Griffin

    Julia Griffin

    Lead Presenter
    Producer
    May 17, 2017 | 09:46 a.m.

    Hi Julia - Yes, you are right. Millennials are not setting aside the the same amount of time to watch full broadcast news shows like generations before them. Also, the advent of DVRs and Tivos are allow people to watch shows (or parts of shows) whenever it is convenient to them.  A survey of general social media habits of 18 to 35-year-olds that New Knowledge did last year found they tend to use YouTube, Facebook, Reddit and Twitter the most to access general news. When it came to science news specifically, they uses the latter three the most. That said, we know there are users who do use Tumblr routinely, and we are exploring the best ways to effectively engage those users on that platform. 

  • Icon for: Donna Charlevoix

    Donna Charlevoix

    Program Director
    May 16, 2017 | 01:17 p.m.

    I love this project! So glad to see the NewsHour is looking to continue to engage through non-traditional media. This is so important!

     
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    John Fraser
  • Icon for: Albert Byers

    Albert Byers

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 08:40 p.m.

    Julia

    What a great "grand experiment" to seek out new ways to boldly distribute the consumption and re-purposing of news (STEM) content to millennials. From the abstract and video it looks like you are leaving no stone uncovered with respect to the variety of social platforms you are exploring...kudos! 

     

    I'd love to learn more about what impact you are finding given the video said you have now been working on this for two years, and how are you coming along toward your goal of building your understanding how to advance millennials STEM knowledge, competencies, and skills--all of which are critical in today’s world. What metrics are you finding worthwhile beyond the traditional likes, click-through's, open rates, shares, etc?

     
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    Stacy Wenzel
  • Icon for: Su-Jen Roberts

    Su-Jen Roberts

    Researcher
    May 17, 2017 | 02:26 p.m.

    Hi Albert,

    Thank you for your interest! I’ll jump in here, as I work for NewKnowledge Organization and we’re conducting the research for the project. 

    Our data collection this year has focused on using surveys and focus groups with millennials all over the country to understand what attracts them to STEM news stories, keeps them engaged, and encourages learning. We’ve found that a story’s personal relevance is particularly important for this age group. In today’s digital world with so many different types of media competing for their attention, millennials want their STEM news to establish why it’s important right at the beginning of the story or else they will lose interest quickly. Stories about innovations in technology are particularly popular because this group is tech-savvy and can readily see the personal relevance of stories about virtual reality headsets, new cell phone apps, or social media algorithms etc. That said, storytelling techniques, such as the use of metaphors are effective at drawing them in, even when the topic is unfamiliar. For example, a metaphor that related melting icebergs to ice cubes in a glass was especially “sticky,” with many people who watched the story readily repeating the metaphor afterwards.

    Regarding format, NewsHour’s shorter Facebook style videos that include graphics and humor are very popular with millennials. Our focus group participants said that they would be most likely to share stories in those formats because they’re easily digestible and appeal to a broad audience. If a short video like that catches their interest, they’re likely to go online and seek out more information.

    As for metrics, we do track Google analytics to understand which stories are the most popular and engaging. Data analysis is still underway and we are excited to share those findings this summer!

     
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    Albert Byers
    Stacy Wenzel
  • Icon for: Albert Byers

    Albert Byers

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2017 | 08:56 p.m.

    Cool, thanks so much for the insights, and yea, storylines and metaphors are powerful! Onward and upwardd

  • Icon for: Lynn Goldsmith

    Lynn Goldsmith

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2017 | 03:37 p.m.

    What a fascinating and important project! In reading the conversation thread so far, I started thinking about a concern that's often been raised that "new" media (TV, in *my* youth, and now different social media) are "ruining" people's attention span. What do you all think about this as a concern? (I do think it's interesting that you have some data suggesting that news over social media may pique a reader's interest and lead to further pursuit of information/understanding--an observation that may counter such a concern).

    I also wondered whether you have any information about (or are even looking at) millennials' interactions with others around stories (other than simply sharing them)--for example, through discussions or related postings--and how that might be influencing your work. 

  • Icon for: Su-Jen Roberts

    Su-Jen Roberts

    Researcher
    May 18, 2017 | 09:17 a.m.

    I’m not sure we can speak directly to the cause of shorter attention spans, but we have found that millennials are particularly concerned with getting news quickly and efficiently. Our focus group conversations also suggest that millennials feel “bombarded” by news and with so much out there, they’re likely to switch among stories until something catches their eye -- as Julia mentioned, many use Reddit or other news aggregators that compile stories from multiple sources, which help them to do just that.

    We’re definitely interested in digging deeper into your point about other ways of sharing and have started compiling data on social media discussions generated in response to posted STEM stories. Our survey data, however, show that people are much more willing to share STEM news by word of mouth than online and we plan to spend more time investigating other forms of sharing in the next year. Thanks for the questions and your interest!

  • May 19, 2017 | 05:53 p.m.

    Adding a few thoughts to support my colleague Dr. Su-Jen Roberts. It would seem that the challenge is not attention span, it's that volume is making a more discriminating consumer. New media users are more concerned that the content get to the point, make the story relevant, and then elaborate efficiently. Our tests show that media-savvy early career adult transmedia learners are making faster decisions to turn off content that doesn't get to the point quickly. If the media piece gets to the point fast, highlights relevance, it's more likely to get more attention. We're also starting to wonder about how situating the implications of STEM information into humanities deliberations might be perceived as more engaging.  Realize we can't spell out all of our preliminary findings here, but it's what we're thinking about.

  • Icon for: Andrea Gomoll

    Andrea Gomoll

    Researcher
    May 17, 2017 | 08:43 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing! I'm very interested in the ways that we as millenials and emerging adults consume media across the many platforms of our lives. We cultivate multiple identities across these platforms, and we immerse ourselves in "filter bubbles." As I watched this video, I wondered about how the work you are doing can be used to break people out of familiar streams of stories--bursting their filter bubbles. For users who are not already reading and seeking out science content, how are you bringing scientific stories on to their radar?

  • Icon for: Julia Griffin

    Julia Griffin

    Lead Presenter
    Producer
    May 18, 2017 | 05:55 p.m.

    Hi Andrea - You bring up a great point. The 'bubble' problem is something many media organizations are confronting right now. Here at PBS NewsHour we try to strive for a unbiased coverage of a range of topics. Perhaps that will help our followers discover content on subjects that they are not normally familiar with. But in general, we know millennials find stories with good visuals, unique metaphors and clear messages on the personal impact of science to be more engaging. While we've not looked into this specifically, I'd imagine that would promote sharing and perhaps land content on pages of individuals who might not otherwise see it. 

  • Icon for: Andrea Gomoll

    Andrea Gomoll

    Researcher
    May 19, 2017 | 11:55 a.m.

    Thank you for your response! Again, this work is very exciting. Tracing how users are sharing within their networks seems like a nice next step for exploring how your project can begin to work towards expanding millenials' media horizons and to better understand how we consume and respond to our many streaming feeds.

  • Icon for: Anne Gold

    Anne Gold

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2017 | 09:26 p.m.

    This is fascinating and important work. I am really excited to see that you are using a data-driven approach - have you published on your work? Would you be willing to share a citation? 

    If you were to design a marketing campaign for a STEM project that is targeting middle and high school students which venues would you suggest to focus the efforts on? 

  • Icon for: Su-Jen Roberts

    Su-Jen Roberts

    Researcher
    May 18, 2017 | 09:34 a.m.

    Hi Anne -- we're working on some manuscripts now, but in the meantime, you can check out our Year 1 Report that we produced last summer. We used Year 1 to solidify our research methods and instruments and collect preliminary data; the more substantial results have come out of our Year 2 work. That report will be out this summer and published on the resources page of our website, so please check back in a couple months!

    Millennials do access news a bit differently than middle and high school students -- different social media platforms tend to appeal to different age groups. We're working on another NSF-funded project with PBS NewsHour that focuses on engaging youth in making STEM news stories. We have collected only a little bit of data on how youth get their news, but do know that they are very interested in making stories for Snapchat and Instagram, which gives them an easy way to share with their friends.

     
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    Stacy Wenzel
  • May 19, 2017 | 11:47 a.m.

    Following up on a stream of thoughts including Andrea Gomoll's excellent question about our social network bubbles. The exciting part of our work is that we've been surveying a general audience, not just the NewsHour viewers to understand the content usefulness and interest.  We're super excited about some emerging data that suggests that all our bubbles are diligent viewers and consuming a lot more media that was previously assumed. While we wish we could reach everyone, that's a bit beyond our goals and may be a bit of a pipe dream. We cannot assume 100% saturation to create a literate society, but we can focus on finding the many streams that are likely to reach people and what the affordances are that encourage consumption by the range of learners who are already out there but in their social bubble. 

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.

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