Posts Tagged multimodal

Spoken Word Poem: Mathematics

I love this spoken word poem by Hollie McNish!

Uploaded in February this year, a colleague shared it with me today. It has been viewed over 665,000 times.

As well as being a stand out piece of speech, this poem would be useful for English teachers looking for texts to explore issues of immigration and racism (arguably with links to ‘numeracy’ capabilities as well!)

Press Play. Sit Back. Enjoy:

, , ,

Leave a comment

A transformative digital literacies pedagogy: Thomas (2011)

Thanks to @malynmawby @benpaddlejones and @Vormamim for engaging in tweety-chat today about play-based learning and transformational play.

There was an article that I wanted to post the full reference to – this one by Angela Thomas (@anyaixchel)

Thomas, A. (2011) Towards a transformational digital literacies pedagogy. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy. Vol. 6 pp. 89-101

You can see the abstract for the paper with my own annotations, above.

In it she argues that there are:

a number of significant characteristics of digital literacy that are imperative to include in a pedagogy of digital literacy in order to make it a transformational pedagogy.  These include: explicit understandings of multimodality, opportunities for play and experimentation, participating within communities of practice, and critical engagement with text.

I had picked this article up to read Angela’s findings about digital pedagogy, but it was a timely read.  I am a big fan of the work of Paulo Freire, and of his work to empower communities through literacy.  By bringing in Freire’s notion of ‘transformative pedagogies’ this article reaffirmed the need for critical, participatory and dialogic practices to be woven into the digital learning landscape.

I’d love to hear of other readings and resources along these lines, if you know of any…?

, , , , ,

1 Comment

Book Art

Long have I prefered DeviantArt to Flickr, as I like the more ecclectic collection of ‘deviations’ (or text/art/photo/whatever-you-submissions) to the focus on photography at Flickr.

One of the best thinigs that I have found through my ramblings through DA are the other (seemingly increasing amount of?) ‘deviants’ and groups working on pieces of BOOK ART.

Take for example this whole group dedicated to making book arts:

http://book-arts.deviantart.com/

Or this group, where altered books are featured (I think the difference is a focus on assemblege?)

http://alteredbookgallery.deviantart.com/

Here are some examples of two excellent pieces by the deviant hogret:

the books never tell you. by hogret

the books never tell you. by hogret

autobiography (work in progress). by hogret

autobiography (work in progress). by hogret

The other genre of visual/written blending featured heavily in the DeviantArt groups is visual poetry.  From what I can see it’s a more established genre, but please tell me more if you know.

Some of my favourite pieces come from deviants carrieola and giantshadow, who often contribute their work to the Daily Poetics group.

Here are a couple to help you get the idea:

cosmic cradle on canvas. by carrieola

cosmic cradle on canvas. by carrieola

universed. by giantshadows

universed. by giantshadows

Enjoy :)

 

, , , ,

7 Comments

Extra Credits: Gamifying Education

Thanks to @Gwimbo for sharing this kick-ass video with me today!

by Extracredits, 6 May 2011 2:00 am
escapistmagazine.com

NB: Was interested to look over this related comment thread.  It struck me that, while people tend to agree with me to my face when I talk to them about Games Based Learning, that many (some? all?) also will walk away still thinking this in the back of their mind:

I think this is bullshit, the reason why people are addicted to facebook and videogames is not because they want to be awarded achievements and level-ups it because it beats work, its more about poor work ethic and lack of discipline and the way society fosters such values rather than anything else.

So, where do you stand on that?

, ,

3 Comments

Teaching Inanimate Alice

I was delighted today to discover that I have been featured as today’s iTeacher on the Inanimate Alice Facebook page :D

(oh yeah…cool factor = one million!)

My use of Inanimate Alice as a text in the English classroom was part of a wider unit for junior high school on ‘Narrative’ where multimodality was also being introduced as a concept.

Last year I showed Episode 1 of Alice to my tutorial groups of pre-service English teachers.  The quality of the text blew their mind.  I chose to show it on a large screen and some students took turns at coming up to control the interactive parts of the story.  At the end they spoke to the class about how they felt about the added layer of participation in the text – they enjoyed it, though some confessed they had mixed feelings about the text at first as my explanation had resounded with childhood memories of choose-your-own-adventure style books, a genre they had come to look upon as formulaic and contrived.  All found Alice to be anything but.

Viewing the story as a class was a powerful way to communicate the potential of opening the English classroom to texts that shake up our notions of genre and text type (rather than rote teaching students how to classify forms and features).  It also refocussed our attention on the powerful role of storytelling in life and left everyone feeling inspired to seek out ‘better texts’ and ‘more cutting-edge material’ for their future English lessons.

This year I’ll be showing Alice again, but in smaller groups this time for a more intimate experience.  I’d love to hear from any teachers who have seen any of the Episodes – have you had a chance to use them in class at all?  What potential does a text like this hold, do you think?

,

7 Comments

The shape of the Arts curriculum

For those who have yet to check it out, the draft shape paper for the Australian Curriculum for the Arts is now available on the ACARA website.

Given that up here in Queensland the school subject ‘Media Arts’ is separate to the subject ‘English’, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to intervene in the text and see if I couldn’t just find the crossover between the two subjects.

It wasn’t hard.

2.3.3 Defining Media Arts

Media ArtsEnglish is the creative use of communications technologies to tell stories and explore concepts for diverse purposes and audiences. MediaLanguage artists represent personal, social and cultural realities using platforms such as prose fiction, poetry, dramatic performances, television, film, video, newspapers, magazines, radio,video games, the worldwide web and mobile media. Produced and received in diverse contexts, these communication forms are important sources of information, entertainment, persuasion and education and are significant cultural industries in Australian society. Digital technologies have expanded the role that mediatexts play in every Australian’s family, leisure, social, educational and working lives. Media ArtsEnglish explores the diverse artistic, creative, social and institutional factors that shape communication and contribute to the formation of identities. Through Media ArtsEnglish, individuals and groups participate in, experiment with and interpret the rich culture and communications practices that surround them.

As I spend more time in Queensland I find myself having to wrestle with my identity as an English teacher because of this overlap with Media Arts.  It’s not that media texts don’t still feature in the English curriculum – they do.  But the culture here is that, while student might study visual language and analyse some/increasingly visual/multimodal texts in English, it’s Media Arts you have to go to if you want to make anything serious.

On one hand, it’s like Media Arts teachers get to do a lot of the fun stuff, which kind of sucks if you’re an English teacher from New South Wales!

But on the other hand, I have to admit, compared the rigour in the Media Arts curriculum up here…well, I have to admit that as an English teacher I always seemed to run out of time to ‘do the fun stuff’ anyway (do you know how LONG it takes for students to rehearse and record their own 10 minute version of Act I of Romeo and Juliet? Fricken ages!)  And it would be nice, for just a short while, not to have to feel like I am dragging my English colleagues kicking and screaming toward increased multimodal study…now if I need to find a like minded media teacher, I can just go and, well, find one.

Leaving aside the ‘are knowledge silos good or bad’ debate, what thoughts do people have about the picture I’m painting here?  NSW people, if you came up to the sunshine state would you want to specialise in English, or Media Arts?

, , ,

3 Comments

Thinking about ‘Transmedia’ and ‘Transliteracy’

Followers of this blog will have noticed recent posts about multimodality – about what it means, and about how ‘literature’ and ‘modality’ are being framed in the draft Australian Curriculum.

This post is part sharing with you, and part bookmarking for myself.  My explorations of multimodal theory have lead me to looking further into TRANSLITERACY and TRANSMEDIA.

Kate Pullinger put me onto this term initially, inviting me to take a look at the website for the Transliteracy Research Group.  The group proposes this working definition for transliteracy:

Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.

As well as the TRG material, Christy Dena’s PhD thesis Transmedia Practice: Theorising the Practice of Expressing a Fictional World across Distinct Media and Environments is another source that I will be looking into further:

“In the past few years there have been a number of theories emerge in media, film,television, narrative and game studies that detail the rise of what has been variously described as transmedia, cross-media and distributed phenomena. Fundamentally, the phenomenon involves the employment of multiple media platforms for expressing a fictional world.” (Dena, 2009: Abstract)

With my PhD coming to a close, these tangled notions of literacy and textuality are interesting me more and more…much reading to be done!

,

1 Comment

Helping teachers to explore multimodal texts

This extract from a recent article in the journal Curriculum Leadership (Vol 8 Issue 16) would make an ideal addition to the Australian Curriculum for English, from K-12:

What are multimodal texts?

A text may be defined as multimodal when it combines two or more semiotic systems. There are five semiotic systems in total:

  1. Linguistic: comprising aspects such as vocabulary, generic structure and the grammar of oral and written language
  2. Visual: comprising aspects such as colour, vectors and viewpoint in still and moving images
  3. Audio: comprising aspects such as volume, pitch and rhythm of music and sound effects
  4. Gestural: comprising aspects such as movement, speed and stillness in facial expression and body language
  5. Spatial: comprising aspects such as proximity, direction, position of layout and organisation of objects in space.

Examples of multimodal texts are:

  • a picture book, in which the textual and visual elements are arranged on individual pages that contribute to an overall set of bound pages
  • a webpage, in which elements such as sound effects, oral language, written language, music and still or moving images are combined
  • a live ballet performance, in which gesture, music, and space are the main elements.

Multimodal texts can be delivered via different media or technologies. They may be live, paper, or digital electronic.

The article, by Michele Anstey and Geoff Bull, outlines ways to help support students’ facility with multimodal texts, and ideas for commencing a professional learning process to engage with multimodality in more sophisticated ways.

If ACARA were to adopt this framework for modality (including the terminology of the ‘technology’ of ‘delivery’, and the broad categories of live, paper and digital electronic production) I think the Curriculum would be headed in a much more generative (and logical!) direction.

, ,

3 Comments

Defining ‘multimodal’

Reading the Draft Australian Curriculum for English (‘DACE’…?) I can see that confusion over the meaning of ‘multimodal’ text is about to cause English teachers some major problems.

My understanding is that when we say a text is ‘multimodal’, we mean that the audience participates in the text’s creation.  This is the definition I would say that academics and practitioners in the field of English curriculum would use; consider this explanation by Anastopoulou, Baber & Sharples:

Multimodality is based on the use of sensory modalities by which humans receive information. These modalities could be tactile, visual, auditory, etc. It also requests the use of at least two response modalities to present information (e.g. verbal, manual activity). So, for example, in a multimodal interaction a user may receive information by vision and sound and respond by voice and touch. Multimodality could be compared with ‘unimodality’, which would be based on the use of one modality only to receive or present information (e.g. watching a multimedia presentation and responding by pressing keys).

…but that’s not the definition that ACARA are going with.

The definitional confusion between terms like multimodal, multimedia and media has been around for a while, and speaks to the significant changes in what is considered core content in English brought about by the rise in visual and especially digital texts.  We are very familiar with the concept that language can be spoken, written or heard…but when it comes to texts that combine these modes, things are still a little muddled.

Please take a moment to check out, for example, the preface for the Year 7 section of the DACE (click the image below and get ready for your head to spin):

Year 7 English Content Preface

See what I mean?

In this Preface to the curriculum content descriptors multimodal texts seem to be pitted against texts that are ‘literary’ (which creates even more confusion as the definition of literary appears to change with each new use).  I can appreciate that the ACARA curriculum writers have had to avoid using the word ‘text’ because of the political beat up the term has received in recent years from certain op-ed writers in certain newspapers.  That is why this new curriculum has reverted to the more traditional term Literature - and it is because of this change that we are now supposed to say, it seems, ‘literary text’.

But now check out the etymological shenanigans that take place in the content descriptors of the Literature strand:

Year 7 - Literature

Oh brother.  The constant reference to ‘literary texts’ is supposed to be a nod to the strand content being described as ‘Literature’.  But this is ultimately VERY confusing, as ‘literary’ texts are separated from ‘non-literary’, digital’ and ‘multimodal’ texts in the Preface.  There result is that there is no sense in this strand of multimodal texts being included.

The term ‘literary’ is also conflated with ‘fiction’, and what are really language elements are referred to as literary elements.  In ‘Discussing and responding’ the term ‘text’ makes it in unscathed – which just goes to show that the word does make sense and can be used.  The term ‘text’ is highly appropriate for collectively describing all works of language art, and recognises that the works we study can be written, spoken, aural, or a combination of these.  The term ‘literary texts’ is stupidly redundant, but I’d be happy to get on with using it to placate the punters, if only it were used consistently and provided scope for the study of a broad range of texts!  Which brings me back to multimodality…

In the NSW English syllabus, students engage in what we call a range of language modes.  These are: speaking, writing, representing, listening, reading and viewing.  So ‘multimodal’ could reasonably be taken to mean ‘using more than one language mode’.  This would make film, picture books and digital stories (which use a combination of visual and written language) and many other forms of text multimodal.  OK, I can work with that.

But another thing we do in NSW English 7-12 is differentiate between the activities of composing (which involves text ‘making’ or ‘creation’, not just ‘writing’) and responding (a broader term than ‘reading’ which encompasses the ‘reception’ of all kinds of text).  These activities are viewed as always interrelated in some way, but I would say that it is only when text explicitly invites the audience to participate in the text (e.g. in video games, virtual reality, and participatory narratives such as Inanimate Alice) that the term multimodal should really be applied.  If I’m going to give up the term ‘multimodal’ to the meaning of ‘using more than one language mode’, then I’m going to need a NEW WORD that I can use when I mean ‘texts that the audience helps to construct’.

Currently this recognition of interactivity, and of the interplay between responding and composing, is severely lacking in the DACE.

[ED: Angela Thomas has helped me to clarify my thinking around this, and suggests that students could refer to the 'cline of interactivity' for texts that invite participation.  My thoughts on multimodality have been developed here.  June 2010]

If you are an English teacher and haven’t yet responded to the consultation on the Draft Australian Curriculum, I implore you to log on to the ACARA site and say something about these contradictory and frankly bizarre definitions.  I can’t be the only one who feels like the curriculum writers just didn’t use a glossary!

Faced with the prospect of a shiny new curriculum that is supposed to be clarifying professional meanings and terminology for all teachers, students and parents across the nation, these definitional conflicts are something that must be sorted out before we go any further.  Agreed?

, , , ,

17 Comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 173 other followers