Lizzie Bennet Diaries: transmedia story telling

In this guest post Centre for Youth Literature Program Coordinator, Adele Walsh talks about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – an amazing example of transmedia story telling.

When you think of Lizzie Bennet, most see a tome of Pride and Prejudice or Jennifer Ehle slowly coaxing a smile out of Colin Firth in the last scene of the BBC adaptation. Since April last year, the two hundred year old character has undergone a radical makeover in the form of a hugely successful web series.

Hank Green, one half of the Nerdfighting duo with brother John Green, and head writer Bernie Su, have created The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a web series that lovingly references the classic text while reflecting life today and social media trends. LBD, as it’s known, has also created a staggeringly engaged online community.

It’s a perfect example of highly successful transmedia at work – a series of web tools that integrates the elements of narrative to create unique content based on existing (and out of copyright) properties.

Remaining loyal to the structure of Jane Austen’s work, Hank and Bernie have followed the same narrative arc, but have adapted characters and motivations so they make sense today and fit the medium. For instance, there are only three Bennet sisters in LBD – Lizzie (our fearless vlogging protagonist), Jane (timid but lovely) and Lydia (irrepressible and endearing). Mary makes an appearance as a cousin with Kitty as the family pet. Every change to the original is done with love and humour, it never mocks its source material.

Marriage proposals are now job offers, estates become large corporations and as for the shocking Wickham/Bennet development….well, our lips are sealed.

Green and Su have also integrated different social media platforms to develop characters and events from outside Lizzie’s perspective. Each character has a Twitter account composed by the series’ writing team where they interact with the public and each other. Jane works in fashion so her outfits and inspiration are posted on her Tumblr and Lookbook accounts.

Jane Bennet on Lookbook

Lydia starts her own web series to have a share of the spotlight but what starts out as an exercise in narcissism becomes something else entirely. Lydia Bennet has never been as beloved as she has in this form of Pride and Prejudice. The appearance of the characters (and cast) at last year’s VidCon brought real and imagined worlds together in a way that tickled the funny bone and imagination of the LBD audience.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries appeals to new and established audiences. Many of the teens and adults who have gravitated to the series have no pre-existing knowledge of the story so every new episode is a revelation. The dialogue, acting and variations in the story give viewers familiar with the novel a new experience which often challenges them to think about characters in a different way.

The series also encourages audience participation. Viewers are actively involved in the characters’ lives – giving Lydia advice (or warnings…) in YouTube comments, chatting with characters on Twitter and pestering creators to hurry up and introduce Darcy!

One of the most interesting spin-offs from LBD is the fan group, The LBD Seahorses. Before Lydia’s fall from grace, fans couldn’t agree which tragedy would ruin her in a contemporary setting. Pregnancy seemed to be the frontrunner. The question was then asked, “What would Darcy even do to help the situation?” To which someone replied, “He’d offer to carry the baby for her.” “Oh, so he’s going to become a seahorse?”

And so the niche group was born.

LBD Seahorses group on Twitter

While it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and not all LBD fans love it, the group is a great example of how web based media evolves. In a recent Lizzie Bennet Q&A session there was even a shout out for this fan group.

The creators couldn’t have anticipated the audience driven art, discussions and interests inspired by the series. The actress who plays Jane often styles her hair using ideas from the World War II era prompting questions about how she does it.  Jane posted on Pinterest and made video tutorials so now fans are wearing elaborate hair styles like Victory rolls and milk maid braids.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries project is slowly coming to an end. This week celebrates the 91st episode and (almost) a year of continuous, free narrative-based content. Who would have imagined that a series of 3-5 minute videos and social media channels based on a classic reimagined text would so firmly capture young people’s attention?

Hank Green and Bernie Su did.

The big question is which classic will they tackle next?


The future of learning in a networked society

Technology company Ericsson recently released a thought provoking video about the future of learning in a networked society. The video features interviews with educational thinkers including Stephen Heppell, Sugata Mitra and Seth Godin.

The video is a compelling exploration of the connective value of technology. The interviewees touch on the issues of standardised testing, the impact of online learning and the use of technology to facilitate collaboration.

You can watch the 20 minute video below and find out more about the project at the Ericsson website.

Explore the Creativity of Indie Video Games

As part of the Off-Book series exploring cutting edge art and internet culture, PBS has released a fascinating video examining the Creativity of Indie Video Games. The video makes some interesting observations about the changing culture of gaming, which organisers of the Freeplay festival argue is “the dominant art-form of the 21st century”.

Indie games are seeing a surge in popularity and are seen by many as a reaction to overblown, overhyped or overly violent big budget games (often referred to as Triple A titles). In contrast to Triple A games, Indie games place emphasis on visual styling, innovative game mechanics and storytelling. Games like Passage, Papa & Yo or Journey explore complex themes and aim to create an emotional response in the player, while games like Bastion place an emphasis on the importance of story.

PBS Off-Book: The Creativity of Indie Games (YouTube)

While the use of gaming in education is a developing field, these Indie titles certainly present some exciting prospects for exploration in the classroom in terms of storytelling, art and game development. The other benefit is that many of these titles are relatively inexpensive and run on mobile devices or low specification computers, so have a look at this video and then jump in and try some of these fantastic indie games. The full list of games featured in the documentary is available in the video description on YouTube.

PBS explores the artistry of video games

With the launch of ACMI’s new Games Masters exhibition we thought you might like to get in a gaming mood with a video from the fabulous PBS Off Book series. It explores the changing landscape of gaming and in particular the artistry that is coming from the rise of independent games (Jason Rohrer’s amazing indie game Passage is a particular favourite of ours. Play it before you watch the video to avoid spoilers). The documentary is a great reminder of how games can be used to tell stories, create experiences and explore decision making. It is food for thought for educators looking to harness the power of games in the classroom.

The video also touches on a couple of the more popular games that are currently being used in learning, Minecraft and Portal.  To find out more about using games like these in education make sure you have a look at the work of two outstanding Victorian educators Adrian Camm and Lynette Barr. You can also find out about using Portal in the classroom at the recently launched Teach with Portals site.

The PBS Off Book series features other great videos exploring cutting edge art (often with a digital focus). The Youtube channel is well worth a look.


I’ve been checking out Xtranormal for a long time now and think it’s a great way to introduce scripting, digital storytelling and film making to students.

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As the website says, “if you can type, you can make movies…”

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By selecting a collection and then characters, begin typing and away you go. Being able to select camera angles is a bonus.

As the website says is a web-site powered by Xtranormal’s text-to-movie™ platform—a web-based application used to create short 3D animated movies from simple text-based movie-scripts. The characters in the movie speak the dialogue in the script, and react to performance triggers—icons that are dropped directly into the script, just like smileys in IM/chat. Movies can be shared through e-mail, blogs and online video sharing and social networking sites such as YouTube™, MySpace™ and Facebook™.

Xtranormal has its own YouTube channel and you can get updates from their Twitter account. Xtranormal could be a terrific way for students to interpret historical events or to present an assignment.

I’m thinking of using it for library orientation and as a fun way to introduce professional learning to teachers.


WatchKnow is an organised collection of videos for children.

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As the site explains

Imagine hundreds of thousands of great short videos, and other media, explaining every topic taught to school kids. Imagine them rated and sorted into a giant Directory, making them simple to find. WatchKnow–as in, “You watch, you know”–is a non-profit online community devoted to this goal.

This video explains exactly how the site works. So if you are looking for videos to support learning and teaching, WatchKnow is certainly worth checking out. Thanks to @joycevalenza for the link.


Have you had students creating videos as part of their learning? Looking for a safe site for students to upload their videos? KidsTube may be helpful. KidsTube is a “monitored video sharing (site) for kids”.

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As a site designed for children, all video content is monitored by a team to ensure suitability for the intended audience.

The about page explains more: is a monitored video sharing website designed for kids. All user-generated content on KidsTube is monitored by our staff to ensure a family-friendly experience for users of all ages. At KidsTube, our members are encouraged to explore their creativity and share their ideas with other kids from all over the world.

How did begin? was started out of concern for BJ & Laurie’s son Ezra. Ezra began showing interest in playing guitar and was going to other popular video-sharing sites to find guitar instructional videos. The Crocker’s quickly found out that these other sites were a breeding ground for profanity, negativity, and just outright mean-spirited conversations between members. There were several discussions about a kid-friendly video site where kids were free to upload their own videos, converse with other members about their videos, and most importantly, be encouraged to use their imaginations, and learn valuable technical skills with video cameras, computers, and more.

Is Safe for my Child?

The staff at consists of parents and grandparents and our main goal in creating was to provide a safe place for kids to be creative online. Our staff is constantly monitoring video submissions, user comments, personal messages between members, and any other user-generated content displayed on KidsTube. This creates a safe, positive environment where kids can feel free to be creative, share their ideas, and get positive feedback from other members. We encourage our members to always respect each other when leaving comments and that constructive criticism is fine, but negative comments will not be permitted.

KidsTube could be a site worth investigating if you would like your students to publish and share their work with others within a monitored environment.

Art: 21

The US television network PBS has an excellent website for art teachers. The Art: 21 website is based on the television series of the same name and contains videos (Australian users can watch the videos, unlike the BBC iPlayer), artist biographies, slideshows of artworks and educational materials.

Art 21

Teachers are given free access to teaching guides for each of the five series of Art: 21 as well as an online lesson library that includes the topics:

  • Abstraction and realism
  • Home and displacement
  • Individuals and collectives
  • Craftsmanship and labour
  • The natural world
  • Public and private space
  • Ritual and commemoration
  • Technology and systems
  • War and conflict

A resource certainly worth referring to art teachers.


TubeChop is a really cool tool. Basically, TubeChop lets you edit YouTube videos and then embed them into websites. So videos you want to use in class or for professional learning are always ready to go and there is no need to view irrelevant sections.

TubeChop is easy to use. Just enter the URL of the YouTube video you want to edit. Clip “chop it”. A slider appears to mark section/s of video you want to edit, hit enter and you are given the new URL and embed code.


Thanks to Jessica Brogely for sharing details of TubeChop.

National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids is a fun and educational site by the reputable crew from National Geographic. Featuring kids’ games, activities, animals, photos, videos, stories and more, this site is sure to be a hit with both students and teachers.

National geo kids

The site is choc full of content that is both educational and fun. Lots of geographical information on countries that includes facts, photos, videos, maps and more. Highly recommended!