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How can ICT Play a Positive Role in Developing the Multimodal Literacies of Students?

EDF3007 AT2 - Part 2 - Essay
by megan barling on 24 October 2012

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Transcript of How can ICT Play a Positive Role in Developing the Multimodal Literacies of Students?

How can ICT Play a Positive Role
in Developing the Multimodal
Literacies of Students? What is Multimodality? Pahl and Roswell (2005) describe modern multimodality in terms of digital literacy: "multimodality can be seen in every text and has shifted how children engage with literacy. Students no longer simply decode, skim and scan, but they move across and among texts, design texts, create mark-up code, render images, and so on. Where students formerly understood the layout of pages in a book, today students read, design, surf and write on screen" (p.27-28). "Multimodality is now central to the literacy practices of youth and adults in the globalized communications environment (e.g., Cope & Kalantzis, 2000). Teachers are being urged to include new literacies using digital media to make connections between the learning spaces of home and school” (Mills, 2010, p.35). Jewitt (2008) explains that images, actions, movements and texts can be referred to as different modes that can be used as resources to promote meaning making depending on the environment in which one is situated. An example of a multimodal literacy practice is social networking via websites such as Facebook or Twitter. Multimodality is an essential element of literacy in an
ever changing socially influenced environment. Multimodal texts are the result of a combination of image sound, gesture, movement and writing or text, which can be conveyed via paper, a computer screen or face to face (Bearne, 2009). What are Multiliteracies Multiliteracies involve the concept of literacy involving multiple modes of communication many of which are technologically based and influenced by social and cultural environment in a diverse and global economy (Turner, 2011). As documented by Jewitt (2008) the concept of multiliteracies causes ideas of standard literacies to move beyond reading and writing to connect with culturally and socially diverse multimodal texts and technological skills that are cultivated and circulate thorough our globalised society. In this context literacy education requires teachers to incorporate multiple pedagogical notions in order to encourage students to critique the acceptance of media and technology, in addition to enhancing student’s abilities to construct their own digital creations (Turner, 2011). “Overall, multiliteracies pedagogy can be described as developing models of effective critical engagement with student values, identity, power, and design” (Jewitt, 2008, p.245). References: Why are Multimodalities and Multiliteracies Important? With the increasing prevalence of digital technologies and multimedia’s in society comes the increased need for multimodal literacies to be incorporated in the curriculum. Bearne (2009) highlights that computers have become imperative for communication in social spaces, the work place and internationally. While reading words off a page in a book can be considered a linear activity reading on a screen is an entirely different process and involves varied reading pathways and processes. Student knowledge of popular cultural concepts such as social networking, blogging and using iPads or iPods make them suitable candidates to engage in a multimodal curriculum however, “to energize this critical potential in educational settings, however, means having a discourse through which to describe and analyse multimodal texts” (Bearne, 2009). Multimodal Texts for the 21st Century: The Literacy World of Students Students are living in a culturally diverse and multilingual age in which digital technologies are shaping not only our economy but our ways of socialising and communicating, which in turn places new demands the modes of text we use to construct meaning. According to Johnson and Kress (2012), globalisation “prompts us to raise serious questions about what literacy is” (p.6). Teachers need to understand that students are growing up in a multimodal society in which text can be used to describe a multitude of different representations, including: sound, speech, writing, images, gestures, which can be depicted via: computer, magazine, books, video, radio and films (Bearne, 2009). Jewitt (2008) contends that as a result of the continual development of “representations and communicational resources of image, action, sound, and so on in new multimodal ensembles. The terrain of communication is changing in profound ways and extends to schools” (p.241) Multimodality and Multiple Literacies in the School The changing way in which we view literacy has an immense impact on education. Multimodal literacies provide new means by which students can communicate and portray their ideas, which is a concept they will also encounter in the work place and throughout the community (Jewitt, 2008) Teachers are often required to develop student focused pedagogies that connect with their literacy life experiences, knowledge and interests. Using digital technology teachers are able to connect with the new ways in which students create meaning by using social or home communicative practices in the school environment. Jewitt and Kress (2002) state that “the multimodal character of the classroom is also central to how students learn” (as cited in Jewitt, 2005) as different modes requires different levels of intellectual effort and allow students to create different forms of meaning. Jewitt (2003) highlights that while all teaching is multimodal the use of computers and digital technology in the classroom functions to enhance the multimodal nature of pedagogy as a new type of literacy and text is introduced into education settings. New Ways of Learning - Using Digital Technology to Teach Literacies Using Multimodal Practices in Schools to Bridge the Technology Divide. Mills (2010) confirms that only 61% of working class youth have internet access at home, the author explains that “for middle class youth, the Internet is an increasingly rich, diverse, engaging, and stimulating resource. For others, it remains a communication resource of little significance, used for a narrow range of purposes” (p.37). Schools have an added responsibility to introduce all students to these new multimodal facets of literacy in order to bridge the technology divide between working and middle class youth. Teachers play an important role in as facilitators who can encourage technological literacy amongst students. By providing expert guidance and advice teachers are able to use technology to encourage multimodal practices amongst youth so that they are able to become technologically literate citizens (Mills, 2010). While access to digital technology in the classroom is important, it is crucial that such technology is used correctly in order to utilise alternate modes to produce techno-literate students who are able to critically analyse and evaluate the different texts they encounter (Chase & Laufenberg, 2011). “The multimodal resources available to readers are central to rethinking what reading is and what it might become in a blended, digital communicational environment” (Jewitt, 2005, p.327). Technology such as computers and the internet offer students different ways of learning and teacher’s different ways of educating students. The multimodal quality of on screen learning reshapes traditional definitions of literacy within the classroom environment. This mode allows students to enter into a text at any point and highlights potentially information in a visually stimulating manner, the reader is involved in a form of critical analysis in which they mode through the multimodal text in order to decipher the most important pieces of information (Jewitt, 2005). Classroom Practices in a New Digital Landscape The high school I attended has now implemented an iPad program so that every student and teacher at the school owns one. A statement from the principal explains this decision: "I believe iPads will significantly enhance our curriculum delivery. These devices can store documents, play videos and movies, send emails, surf the net and create animation and media-rich presentations. Students will be able to transport information easily and take iPads home to use – and store the information on home computers" (Beaconhills College, 2011, p.1). SmartBoards are a multimodal form of digital technology and can be used to take attendance or to present a PowerPoint. It allows students to develop new technological literacies, for example one teacher explains that it can be “used in maths for simple adding, matching blocks and numbers,” in this manner the SmartBoard is highly interactive and causes students to become critical learners (McKeown & McGlashon, 2012, p.2). Creating comic strips are another mode of text that can be done using technology. McKeown and McGlashon (2012) clarify that creation of comics can help students develop narratives, as well as build on spelling, grammar and dialogue. The Teachers Role in Developing Multimodal Literacies Beaconhills College. (2011). All set for iPads. Retrieved 18th October, 2012, from http://www.beaconhills.vic.edu.au/index.php/2011/11/17/all-set-for-ipads/

Bearne, E. (2008). Multimodality, literacy and texts: Developing a discourse. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 9(2), 156-187.

Chase, Z., & Laufenberg, D. (2011). Embracing the Squishiness of digital literacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(7), 535-537.

Jewitt, C. (2003). Re-thinking assessment: Multimodality, literacy and computer-mediated learning. Assessment in Education, 10(1), 83-102.

Jewitt, C. (2005). Multimodality, “reading”, and “writing” for the 21st century. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 26(3), 315-331.

Jewitt, C. (2008). Multimodality and literacy in school classrooms. Review of Research in Education, 32(1), 241-267.

Johnson, D., & Kress, G. (2003). Globalisation, literacy and society: Redesigning pedagogy and assessment. Assessment in Education, 10(1), 5-14.

McKeown, S., & McGlashon, A. (2012). Getting smart with the versatile SmartBoard Brilliant ideas for using ICT in the inclusive classroom. Oxon: Routledge.

Mills, K. A. (2012). Shrek meets Vygotsky: Rethinking adolescents’ multimodal literacy practices in schools. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(1), 35-45.

Pahl, K., & Rowsel, J. (2005). Literacy and education: Understanding the new literacy studies in the classroom (1st ed.). London: Paul Chapman Publishing.

Turner, K. C. N. (2011). “Rap Universal”: Using multimodal media production to develop ICT literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(8), 613-623. Teachers play a critical role as facilitators in encouraging student interaction with a range of multimodal digital literacies in order to develop their ability as critical readers, creative producers and effective group members. Teachers have a key responsibility to scaffold multimodal literacies and model new technical proficiencies. They can lead students to engage in sophisticated, mature forms of communication that are unattainable for many students without intervention and expert guidance. In discussions about the multimodal literacy practices of youth, what is being missed is that many adolescents, particularly those who are not of the dominant, middle class culture, are still novices (Mills, 2010, p.41). Examples of ICT facilitating Multimodal Literacies from Placement SmartBoards - Many teachers from my placement school used SmartBoards to do simple tasks like mark the roll and forward attendance to the office. The most effective use of the SmartBoard I witness was during an English quiz in which students could approach the Smart Board and circle what they thought was the correct answer to the question, if it was correct the circled answer turned green and if it was incorrect it turned red. This was extremely effective in encouraging student involvement and focus on the task at hand. In a sex education class students were required in pairs to use computers to go online and find an article in relation to the controversial topic of teen pregnancy, they were then asked to critique these articles and decide whether or not they encouraged or discouraged teen pregnancy. Students were then required to report their findings to the class. The use of technology in this situation promoted critical analysis and encouraged students to focus on reading, note taking and public speaking skills, as well as work in a group or team . English Essays - In a year 10 English class students were required to write essays about the novel they were studying for the term. Once they had finished writing their essay they were rewarded by being able to use a laptop to type up their final copy. They were then able to send their essays to their teacher for marking, which she was able to do quickly and effectively online before emailing them back to the students with feedback. This allowed students to become literate in computer programs frequently used in the workplace and institutions of higher education as well as giving them practice in navigating online communicative facilities necessary for societal and communicative practices in the 21st century. The Positives of ICT Being Used in the Classroom - Can enhance problem solving, collaborative thinking and flexible learning. - Levels of participation and engagement increased. - Promotes exploratory learning.
- Improves technological skills.
- Encourages group work and cooperative learning. - The use of technology is important for students growing up the ‘digital age’ and a progessing into a globalised society.
- Students need to continually adapt to new developments.
- Encourages the development of multimodality and multiliteracies of students in an ever evolving society. In Conclusion.. Multimodal literacies are important now more than ever as the society we live in becomes increasingly reliant on technology and digital practices.


Jewitt (2008) emphasises that “success at multimodal learning can be coupled with the ability to be autonomous and self-directed designers of learning experiences (Gee, 2004), to possess problem-solving skills with multiple strategies for tackling a task, and to have a flexible solutions orientation to knowledge (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000)” (p.260).


It is important that schools are a site of development of digital literacies for students so that they are able to prosper in a globalised 21st century society.
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