Nowadays, teachers are quite familiar with teaching students to compose alphabetic texts (what is alphabetic? click here) in the digital environments, such as reports, academic essays, research papers, etc. However, they are often reluctant to introduce multiple modes in media into their writing class. One main reason is that teachers worry that the effects of computers and the vernacular speech expressions of multimodality will overshadow the main task of writing in their composition course.
But this is not true. The accessing of multimodality to the writing class has the potential to help students to create and interpet texts in today’s dynamic and increasingly technological world. As Selfe (2007) points out, composing print text has long been a multimodal process. In addition, ‘traditional’ media like film also offer a combination of visual and alphabetic information.
Sample: a multimodal composition
This is a student’s Multimodal Composition for English class at Full Sail (click here ), which provides us a direct image about how a multimodal composition can be conducted.
Challenges for Teachers
Selfe(2007) has identified some challenges that teachers may encounter when using multimodal composition in their teaching. The first challenge is both for the students and teachers. Choosing a composition topic can be a problematic issue for teachers. And in order for students to fulfill the task, they have to combine various kinds of meanings in an appropriate semiotic channel, including images, sounds, short videos, which can be rather a difficult mission. What’s more, without a hardcopy, for teachers and students, they are more familiar to correct and evaluate print-based compositions than the multimodal ones. Finally, in order to provide students with adequate support in their multimodal compositions, teachers have to be very familier with the relevant software and hardware. Otherwise, teachers’ lack of familiarity with relevent technology may create another obstacle.
Here are Some Guidelines for Teaching Audio and Video Composing:
- Introduce user-friendly software to students
- Act as a technical supporter during the task
- Ensure access to necessary equipment during the task
- Carefully present project models without limiting students’ creativity
- Provide clear rubrics to clarify the aim of the multimodal composing assignment and show how the assignment should be constructed
Selfe(2007) has considered a lot in the field of digital multimodal composition, but there are still a number of questions that need to be considered:
- How can teachers provide guidance for students as they go through the process of digital multimodal composition?
- Can multimodal composition be seen as an effective way to activate students’ motivation? To what extent do you agree or disagree?
- What advice would you give to teachers who are considering assigning multimodal composition?