Post by Krystal, Yvaine, Aria and Eva

When you think about writing, what are the ideas that pop into your head? Are you still thinking about characteristics like sophisticated, long paragraphs, or closely related to paper? Probably yes. Under the influence of standardized writing tests, ESL learners are all familiar with the ongoing privileged format of the five-paragraph essay.

But have you ever considered L2 “writing” could be integrated with other skills in the age of CMC? What’s your impression of our weekly blogging posts? Or a post like this?

A screen shot of the “What’s your story?” course blog From: American English Webinar

How about this video?

Source of video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOV1aBVYKGA

Would you categorize these types of productions as a form of writing? Do you find them more audience-friendly than the traditional alphabetic writing text? You can hopefully see the integration of multimodal composing and digital design, which ensures information is delivered to the audience much more effectively.

A multimodal composition is one that uses more than one modality to achieve its intended purpose. The modalities are an integration of “visual, audio, gestural, spatial, or linguistic means of creating meaning”. As Belcher (2017) pointed out, “writing” is redefined to a wider notion of “composing” and absorbs the modern idea of multimodal composing and digital design, which gives us insights for the potential of activating L2 writing pedagogy.

The Rationale for a Multimodal Design Perspective

Zamel (1982) made arguments that writing was a discovery process of ideas and forms, and a way of expressing ourselves more than a means of encoding speech. This game-changing argument is similar to the reconceptualization of writing as multimodal composing and digital design.

The development in communication technology has made it possible for us to write beyond the confines of the materiality of print or online facsimiles of printed texts. In addition, the opening up to a variety of semiotic resources, like color, sound, still and moving images have enlarged the expressive potential of the writing. In an attempt to shift text writing to design, Purdy (2014) developed a concept called “visual turn”, “seeing texts as visual; treating images as texts” (pp.615). Therefore, we should take advantage of this large semiotic toolkit to facilitate composing.

A screen shot of multimodal design tools From: YouTube

Nowadays, with the ever-increasing popularity of digital devices, young people have a very active “digital underlife” (Mueller, 2009, p. 240) which means that they engage in many personally meaningful “discursive practices,” or self-sponsored “composing in new media” (p. 246). These extracurricular literacy practices make multimodal writing acceptable to students.

Chun et al. (2016) further observed that writing itself is technology, which is as inherently bound to technological systems as it is to sign systems. With the interweaving of technology and human activities, multimodal writing has become an irreversible trend.

In the digital era, writing is already multimodal to a great extent, and will certainly evolve in the future.

Affordances

Multimodal design offers more learning opportunities to different groups of learners.

For literacy learners

Proper use of multimodal design prepares literacy learners to live in a “digitally mediated world” (Hafner, 2015, p. 487). It matches learners’ out-of-class behavior, enables electronically facilitated learning in diversified disciplines, and familiarizes them with the digital practices in future professions and workplaces. Besides, as the closing of the digital gap among students, the critical/uncritical digital user divide also closes.

For language learners

1. Multimodal design enhances cutting-edge language teaching strategies, such as task-based learning and teaching (TBLT). As Blake (2016) mentioned, with the help of new technology, students are likely to combine four basic language skills in TBLT tasks. For example, a speaking task, which involves video posting and peer collaboration, possibly requires speaking, listening, and writing skills.

2. Multimodal design projects can facilitate natural and authentic communication with target language users. By interacting with real audiences, a multimodal design project, such as digital storytelling, offers learners the motivation to develop both language and literacy skills.

For L2 writers

Multimodal design helps with both learning to write and writing to learn.

1. Taking advantage of technology and socially available repertoire (eg. images and sounds), struggling writers are encouraged to express themselves more freely.

2. Digital projects promote the increasing awareness of genre. Through the experience of converting print genre to digital genre, learners’ knowledge of each genre is further consolidated.

Shortcomings

For students

1. Affecting students’ capability for serious academic study
Casanave (2017, p. 81) mentioned that “informal social networking and entertainment activities” may have an impact on students’ capability for serious academic study. The informal way of composing in the Internet might affect the way they write essays, read books and organize their thoughts.

2. Distracting students’ attention from key points
Multimodal composition in English classroom usually combines interesting pictures, music and video. Students might be attracted by those assisted elements and ignore the emphasis of the English writing class.

3. Students can be misled by mixed up information in the Internet
For some students without self-discipline, they may become addicted to the Internet and spend lots of time surfing the Internet. When they are searching data for their assignments, they might be attracted by some irrelevant information and even be misled by some incorrect information.

4. Encountering technical problems
Some students are not familiar with the multimedia tools, thus, they might get into troubles when creating their multimodal writing project.

For teachers

1. Increasing teachers’ workload
Compared with the traditional English writing lesson, a multimodal writing lesson requires teachers to prepare more components for the lesson.

2. Lack of related training
Since multimodal composing and digital design is a relatively new topic, there is insufficient well-organized training for teachers.

3. Encountering technical problems
Teachers might also be unfamiliar with teaching multimodal composition and the necessary multimedia tools. When they meet with computer breakdown or some other technical problems, the lesson plan will be seriously affected.

Recommended video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp_n42qI6JA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljUY02knyYI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yMT3pCEQIs

Discussion

  • Do you have any experience of composing or reading a multimodal design before? If yes, can you further elaborate on how it enhances your language/ digital literacy learning?
  • As a possible English teacher, will you implement this approach into your class? What kinds of teaching activities or tasks will you use?

68 thoughts on “On Becoming Facilitators of Multimodal Composing and Digital Design

  1. Yes, I think I have unintentionally read some writings of multimodal compositions. But before I read this article, I have never thought that it might also be a new writing form. Similar to the video clip in the blog, some TED ED video clips also offer the images and the words to explain a specific concept or object. I think it enhances my language learning mainly in two aspects. First, it really reduces my pressure in learning compared with reading the printed form of writing. Besides the words, it provides images which are of great help to understand some abstract concepts more quickly. Second, it provides information also through the auditory sense which the content is conveyed at an acceptable speed. So it is more efficient because sometimes if I am going to read something hard through printed works, my mind will sometimes be wandering for a while. But with the funny animated images and clear voices here, it is easier for to raise my interest to concentrate on the contents. And I remember our teachers sometimes will ask us to do shadowing after the speech voices to practice our speaking.

    As a possible English teacher, I will consider using this approach into my class as supplementary activities. I will also consider using TBLT approach into the pedagogical activities. To be more specific, I may introduce them some apps like Vue for quick video editing. And then ask them to work in groups on tasks like storytelling to the textbook.

    • Thank you for your comment, Connor.
      I am glad about what you said about learning through multimodal design alleviates your pressure as well as enhances your understanding. Information presented in different digital forms indeed has a strong appeal to learners and thus motivates learning. Also, different learners might obtain a different level of sensitivity to text, audio, image, etc. And it seems you feel more relaxed when learning through listening. Also, the idea of asking your students to do storytelling through short video platform is great. Since those platforms are already very popular in the mainland, students will have ‘real’ and high motivation when completing the tasks.

  2. Yes, I think I have the experience of composing a multimodal design before. I am from the first group writing the blog, and it is also my first time writing a blog. When writing the blog, I used some images from the Internet, and I also added some super links to help others better understand what we were going to express. I think it is an excellent example of writing multimodal compositions. While writing the blog, I had to surf the Interner searching for good pictures and I also needed to refer to literature and then made it to super links.
    I will implement this approach into my class. The multimodal way can reduce the dullness of traditional writing and arouse the interest of my students. I will use the task-based approach to give the lecture. Students will be given the task to write a multimodal essay. They will be divided into groups and work together to finish the multimodal essay.

    • Thank you for your comment, Betty.
      Indeed the blog posting is a great example of multimodal design, and our group members had a very similar experience as you did. I am glad that you have learned a lot through this assignment, so did we. Also, I agree that by promoting language learning through multimodal design, students will be more motivated and thus produce more fruitful learning outcomes.

  3. Yes. Actually, I have subscribed some interesting English learning channels of the blogers on some of the famous Chinese websites like Bilibili. They will use various materials like music, literature works, movie clips, TV series in their videos to enrich my English learning experience.

    It is absolutely a great approach to be applied into my class. For example, if I I am going to teach my students a unit about famous writers, I will give them tasks to firstly preview the unit and select one writer that they particularly like. And then ask them to do extensive reading and to create a multimodel mini presentation about the writer. They will have a better understanding and a deeper impression about what we’re going to learn and be motivated to involve in the class. The classmates can also enjoy this kind of rich sensory English-learning process.

    • Thank you for your comment, Queenie.
      It is great that you have benefited a lot from the multimodal design. We are lucky to born in this information-explosive age. Although risks are always there, everyone can easily find something valuable and appealing to learn online. And thanks for sharing with us your teaching idea. Students can indeed have a better understanding and deeper impression of the learning content by receiving information in multiple forms. Also. in the process of creating the multimodal design themselves, they will better understand the concept and impact of new literacies

  4. I think I have done a lot, because many classes require students to do presentations with software such as powerpoint. I remember, when I took apart in an activity called “Three Countries and Three Schools”, all the candidates were asked to present what they wrote in an essay with demonstration software. In order to make my presentation more appealing, I tried a new tool called Prezi, which can make static presentation into a dynamic one. In the preparation process, I met many technical challenges. With no one to turn for help, and this software only had an English version, I had to read and understand all the technical terms and followed the instruction step by step. However, I still don’t know how to insert a cartoon in it. I had tried for several times, what presented was still a static picture. At last, I gave up, and I chose to play this cartoon in a separate medium.
    Although I did learn some technical staff and terms in this experience, I didn’t regard it as a positive one. When giving students a DMC assignment, teachers have to realize that there may exist some technical problems which will upset students and make them gradually lose interests and motivation. Therefore, teachers should start from the easiest one and do a pilot one in advance so as to forecast the difficulties students will meet, and then tell students how to cope with these issues before the activity.

    • Hi, Flora, thank you for bringing up the technical problems regarding composing a multimodal design here. Definitely, it is a tricky part that teachers can not ignore when trying to apply this approach. Also, I agree with you that the teacher’s guiding role is particularly important before the task, otherwise, students will not have enough patience and endurance to carry on the assignment.

  5. 1. Yes, I used to compose a multimodal design several years ago, introducing some of my volunteering and working experiences of teaching. I mainly used pictures with captions to give others a better understanding of what I have done, which I think is better than simply writing down a few hundreds words as sometimes pictures can tell a more vivid story than words do.

    As a possible English teacher, will you implement this approach into your class? What kinds of teaching activities or tasks will you use?

    As an English teacher, I think I will try to implement this approach into my class. I may introduce the simple version of fan fiction writing into the classroom, asking students to form groups according to their personal interests and write their own creative version of extended stories collaboratively.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Daniel! It’s nice to see that you can benefit from the multimodal composing. Indeed, as you say, creating a multimodal work not only enlarges the expressive potential with a range of semiotic resources but also draws your audience’s attention. I also agree with you that fanfiction-type tasks can be carried out in the classroom. Students can combine colors, images, texts and other kinds of modes to rewrite the scenes or extend the storyline, which is a useful way to stimulate their interest in learning.

  6. (2019杭州中考语法填空)
    The eco-house
    Simon Dale didn’t want to live in a city’s apartment building. So he made up his mind 1__________ (build) his own home in the countryside. He moved to Wales with his family and built a wooden eco-house. With the help of his father-in-law, a builder, he moved into a 2__________(comfort) new home after only four months. 3__________ only cost $4700 to build the house.
    The eco-house is made of natural 4__________(material). Simon Dale and his father-in-law 5__________(dig) into the side of a hill and then used the mud and stone to make the walls. The floors 6__________(make) from wood form nearby area. The design is open-plan. There is no central heating, 7__________ there’s a wood-burner and solar panels(太阳能电板) on the top 8__________ can provide power for lighting, music and computing. Drinking water is from a nearby spring. The fridge stays cool, thanks 9__________ air from under the ground. Simon Dale says, “we try to live in peace with natural world.’ He has 10_________(certain) done his best to achieve that.

    Actually, I have a great experience in composing and reading multimodal design materials. Take the Wechat public account as an example. Every day, I am informed of a wide variety of passages that I subscribed. Each of them is multimodal design with either visuals or audios or both which makes them more readable. On the contrary, it’s noted that an article with only characters tend to be quite boring. Sometimes we may have difficulty in comprehending some of the materials of the writing. The visuals provided may serve as a facilitator to enhance our understanding.
    When I become an English teacher, this approach will be implemented in my class. It will be designed as a group project. Within a group, those who are good at writing can compose, while others who are interested in searching for visuals and audios can assume the duty to look them up on the Internet. Each of them can take part in the project and achieve a sense of achievement after completing the task.

    • Thank you for sharing ideas here, Catherine! I have the same habit of reading passages from WeChat public accounts as you do! And I also find it easier to be attracted to an article that manipulates several modes than to a lengthy text. When the text is too obscure to understand, those concretized images allow us to gain a better understanding of the article.
      You also recommended a practical teaching task for us. Within a multimodal group project, encouraging each student to contributes his or her brilliant ideas and efforts can further their understanding of different modalities. It is kind of like the creative literary project that we did together last semester, right?

  7. Thank you for sharing.
    I often read writings in a multimodal form quite similar to the video clip your group posted in the blog, which I used to regard as videos instead of writings, and they are accessible in a variety of platforms like YouTube, Microblog, and TED. I think it is an efficient and engaging way to gain information with multimodal elements like images, audios, videos, and hyperlinks. When I read text-based articles, it is difficult for me to concentrate on comprehending the text for extended periods of time. By the addition of multimodal elements, the writings become easier to understand and more attractive.
    As a possible English teacher, I will consider implementing this approach into my class. I would like to attempt various kinds of activities in my class like task-based writing activities, collaborative blogging, and video writing, depending on the lesson plans and curriculum objectives. Although some of those DMC activities are not appropriate to conduct in classroom contexts due to the time limit or some technical reasons, I would also consider them as after-class assignments or workshops and then encourage students to introduce their products into the classroom.

    • Thank you for your comment, Carina~
      Yeah, under the examination-driven learning context, I suppose most of us have misconceptualized writing to a limited text-based sense before. So, I’m glad that our post helps you rethink the term “writing”.
      I completely agree with you that multimodal composing is efficient for the audience to pick up knowledge than to read a lengthy alphabetic text. In this case, composers take more responsibilities to combine semiotic modes and logical thinking, which enables writing to become much more descriptive and appealing for a wide range of audiences.
      Besides, your last point seems very practical even for language teachers who are inexperienced in technologies. Teachers can encourage students to bring their products into the classroom setting but not take the whole class in creating process, which develops learner autonomy in exploring it out of class. The teacher also applies the bridging approach to arouse students’ awareness and motivation in multimodal composing.

  8. Thank you for your sharing!

    Yes, I do have similar experience of reading a multimodal design. I think YouTube videos are also multimodal designs. When I watch some English learning videos made by YouTubers, I do learn a lot of English knowledge like differences between American English and British English from them. Sometimes I also can learn about English culture which is often lacked in our English textbooks.

    Yes, in the future I will implement this approach into my English teaching, but I think I will make it an after-school project which students have to cooperate with classmates to finish. As for the specific tasks, for example, I may ask them to make a video to recommend an English movie they like. Apart from the reasons for their recommendation, they should also incorporate some pictures and episodes into the video, which can make the activity more interesting.

    • Thanks for commenting, Sophia~
      Yes, YouTube is definitely a typical platform for multimodal design sharing. I also have similar experiences on following some English learning channels on YouTube to get more exposure to English and pick up some knowledge about language varieties and target culture. Given that English is now used as a lingua franca, we can learn English not only from channels specialized on language learning but a variety of using English as the background sound.
      I am quite impressed by the video recommendation task you mentioned here. It is such a comprehensive task that integrates learners’ descriptive skill, persuasive skill, critical thinking skill, digital design skill and language skill altogether. And I think it suits learner’s learning styles and may be motivated for learners from elementary level up to advanced level. Through a long-term discussing and negotiating on this task, students’ progress on language can easily be seen.

  9. Yes, I have many experiences of reading multimodal works and some experiences of composing multimodal designs myself. I read many articles related with English learning on varied Wechat official accounts. Compared with traditional English learning essays, I think these multimodal articles help improve my learning efficiency as I can refer to some illustrations when being confused about some knowledge points and I can listen and repeat after sentences in the articles if audible materials are provided. I think these multimodal articles are extremely useful when I am learning English phonetic symbols (multimodal videos are really useful likewise). As for my composition experiences, I made some videos on introducing the traditional food in Yunnan province in English together with my friend before. I learned many useful English expressions of ingredients and dishes, and I felt really motivated and happy when my foreign friends told me they had learned a lot from my videos. In general, it is a really interesting language learning experience for me.

    As an English teacher, I will employ multimodal composition approach in my class. I think students tend to be more motivated as they have more room in utilizing images and other innovative technologies and they will receive feedback from authentic readers rather than only me. But unfortunately, I can’t use this approach too much as there are no relevant requirements in the language tests and I should allocate students’ learning time more reasonably to help them sail through exams.

    • Thank you for commenting, Coco~
      Yes, our everyday life is surrounded by the multimodal push information from WeChat official accounts. With the participation of all the senses, especially listening, learners improve their language skills much more straightforward than using monomode text to learn phonology.
      I am interested in your composing experience. In order to create satisfactory videos, producers usually go through the process of topic-related expression learning and language accuracy checking like you did. By the way, could you share the video with me? I am a super fan of traditional Chinese cuisine.
      I totally agree with you on the point that even if it is an excellent attempt to motivate students and embed them with required competences of digital literacies, there is a mismatch between the task and the standard language examination. It is quite time-consuming to improve students’ linguistic knowledge. Teachers should always keep our main focus and class time distribution aligning with the official curriculum and assessment. Thus, you may try to incorporate this notion to a lower extent, for example, combining multimodalities in their writing homework or introduce multimodal composition materials in reading task to decode information within combined modes.

  10. I did watch multimodal designs. For example, videos narrating scientific knowledge. Normally, the author acts as a narrator and painter simultaneously. Primarily, the multimodal work of this kind lowers my anxiety because illustrations help me understand the elusive and unfamiliar content. Additionally, the multimodal design is like the content-based textbook of audio version, which helps me pick up new words in the authentic context.
    From my point of view, this approach is valuable. It allows students to do research and look for useful information on the Internet, which promotes learning autonomy. As an English, I will form some groups and allocate some challenging topics to each group. The task is to tape a video that elaborates the assigned topic in an audio fashion.

    • Hi~ Alex. Thanks for your comment. I do agree with you that it can lower learners’ anxiety. I also have the same feeling when I watch those video. It is different from traditional ways of learning knowledge. We can not only review the materials as much as we need until we understand them, but also stop the video for a while to figure out our puzzles. Therefore, we can have less pressure on study. In addition, I believe that your approach will train your students’ abilities in many aspects. I wonder in which grade would you prefer to use this approach?

  11. Yes I do have the experience of reading a multimodal design. I have watched a lot of video that narrates comics or movies and also share thoughts and evaluations towards the comics or movies. And I also remember in my undergraduate years, my teacher also usually offered multimodal materials in class, whose content includes such as interviews about cross-cultural communication, explanation of specific terminology and so on.
    As a possible English teacher, will you implement this approach into your class? What kinds of teaching activities or tasks will you use?
    If I were a English teacher, I would like to implement this approach into my class because I think compared to paper materials, using videos and audios could attract students’ attention and motivate them to class learning activities. I will ask students to make a video to introduce a book or movie.

    • Thanks for your comment, Charlotte.
      My teachers in college also provided many multimodal materials with us. I believe that there are increasing number of materials of multimodal composing and digital design in the Internet. They really help teachers to show their students some difficult learning points in interesting way. Students can also benefit a lot from those materials. I agree with your saying that videos and audios could attract students’ attention. With high motivation and participation in class, students can better understand the content of the lesson.

  12. Thank you for sharing!
    1. Yes, I do have the experience of reading multimodal designs. I really enjoy watching short videos on YouTube as I can gain a lot of knowledge and information in a very casual and relaxing way. Besides, I can understand some topics and issues more clearly with other modalities like sound interpretations and pictures. For instance, I have subscribed to a lot of language learning channels and have learned a lot of natural expressions within their daily vlogs.
    2. As a future English teacher, I am looking forward to incorporating this approach into my class. I can show the multimodal design to my students in the leading-in part to introduce the main topic and stimulate their learning passion. And it can also serve for the homework part (homework for weekend or holiday), for instance, I may ask three to four students to form a group and work together to produce a short video to introduce one of their favorite books. The groups will be required to give presentations based on their own short videos in the next lesson.

    • Hi, Manty. I also love watching daily vlogs and I enjoy the way vloggers edit their videos. Many videos are attractive. They have pleasant tone of explaination and include some interseting illustrations. Through watching those videos, I got to know some idoms and acquired some new words or phrases. I felt less stress in this way of learning. I think it might be a good way for teachers to select some representative daily vlogs in English and encourage students to take a look in their spare time.

  13. Thanks for your sharing. I once was asked by my university English teacher to complete a micro class project, and I could still remember that it was a nightmare because at that time the teacher didn’t give us any instruction on how to do it. She just threw us a very abstract topic, about Roman myths, and asked us to complete the task. We had knew nothing about the available software, about the features and teaching stage of micro class since it was the very first time we had touched on it. The project was of little pedagogical meaning. So I could learn from this lesson how important the teachers’ guide is in student activities like DMC. Though student’s autonomous learning is stressed, it doesn’t mean they can do DMC all by themselves without knowledge input provided by teachers.
    Having this kind of disappointing learning experience, I will consider putting DMC in teaching with caution. The tutorial, scaffolding and topics of DMC being aligned with the teaching targets, students’ interests and needs are very important. I believe teachers’ design of the project and helpful guidance hold the key to how much students can learn from the DMC.

    • Thanks for your comment, Chang.
      I am sorry to hear that one of your language/ digital learning experiences did not go very well, but thank you for bringing up the issue of inadequate or inappropriate teachers’ instruction. I have also been assigned a multimodal design task, a storytelling project, in the period of my undergraduate study. Luckily, our teacher had introduced the detailed process of creating such a project. Also, he told us the applicable software and gave us sample projects. Therefore, although most of my classmates, including myself, had never done this kind of project before, we managed to complete this task with a satisfying result. So clear instruction and proper guidance are absolutely necessary. Also, I agree that if we are going to include multimodal design as learning content or tasks, we need to make sure that it aligns with students’ needs and capabilities.

  14. 1. Do you have any experience of composing or reading a multimodal design before? If yes, can you further elaborate on how it enhances your language/ digital literacy learning?
    Yes, of course. I remember during my undergraduate period, teachers divide us to different groups to accomplish different tasks. We worked collaboratively to adapt one of Wilde’s short stories, turn it to a film video, make a subtitle and dub it, then we worked together to combine different modes like pictures, videos and sounds etc. together to design PPT. At that time, I actually didn’t realize what we did; but now, I can still feel a sense of achievement as I felt at that time. I think this is one of the advantages of multimodal design– it can serve as a facilitator in the process of language learning.

    2. As a possible English teacher, will you implement this approach into your class? What kinds of teaching activities or tasks will you use?
    I think it mostly depends on whether teachers can be well supported. For example, whether schools will provide us with more professional trainings? whether they will give us more time for lesson planing? or whether schools will offer us a rubric for assessment to reduce our burden? If schools can well support teachers, I will definitely implement this approach into my class. Maybe I will guide my students to make a video to describe their role models.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jiaxin.
      I had a similar experience as you did in the undergraduate study period. Also, I didn’t know the project I was doing is called multimodal design. But we both have benefited a lot from that kind of assignment.
      Support from the school is undoubtedly important. If the school administrators consider that new literacies learning should be included in the language curriculum, then teachers will have more resources as well as training in this regard.

  15. Yes, I have read blogs and watched online presentations. Coming to think of it, wouldn’t magazine and newspaper articles with illustrations be considered as multimodal composition? Reading/watching these compositions shows me new ways of organizing the content visually. For example, recently I watched a series of video from a youtube channel where the maker posts endnotes on the video ([1], [2], [3], and so on). The endnotes only appear when the content was on the relevant point. I can go to the endnotes in details section of the video to trace the source of the content if I wanted to. They function in the same way as endnotes do in academic paper or encyclopedia entries, but I find them interesting because I have never seen endnotes used in video clips before.

    Yes, I’m using it already. My students are sometimes asked to present on a book they read, or draw a storyboard of an assigned reader. Most of my students, though, speak in Chinese when they prepare for their presentations. So they have less speaking and listening practice than I intend them to. But they still get to practice reading, writing, and speaking (when they rehearse).

    • Thanks for your comment, Samson.
      Yes, indeed there are multiple examples of multimodal composition, and we can always learn something from them. Also, I found the endnotes in video clips useful, since they are really helpful when I try to watch the specific content. New technology enables a similar function in different forms. How wonderful it is.
      It is great to hear that you are already using this method, and it seems working pretty well. I am sure that you and your students can all benefit a lot from multimodal design.

  16. Yes, I do have similar experience in reading multimodal design, such as reading science articles from WeChat public accounts. Apart from those advantages mentioned above, I think reading in this way aslo extends my knowledge in other fields. For example, I can update my understanding of COVID-19 every day by reading articles in China Daily public accounts.If information is presented in graphic forms or through comics, it is much easier for me to know more about those unfamiliar fields such as medicine, finance, biology etc.

    I believe such a digital project can be a facilitator in students’ langauge learning. As it requires a lot of time and efforts in preparation, I suggest teachers provide adequate models for students at the beginning and invite them to share related experience in reading and writing multimodal design. If students start to feel comfortable about the new approach, we can help them to do creative groupwork such as making adaption or presentations, and short videos etc.

    • Thanks for sharing your opinions, Stefanie! I agree with you that science articles can be more easily understood by readers if presented in a multimodal way since I shared a same experience. Last month, I watched a science video about COVID-19. The vivid animation gave me a deeper understanding of how the virus spreads and some possible symptoms than a lengthy article.
      Definitely, explicit guidance from teachers can not be ignored. Providing students with models before the project allows students to express themselves in a creative way. It will remove technical barriers and reduce learners’ burden to complete those demanding digital projects.

  17. Yes. It helps my vocabulary learning especially when I come across new words, phrases, or idioms during reading. The images or videos accompanied are effecient assistances to help me infer from the context. The mutimodal designs improve my language/digital literacies learning mostly by stimulating my motivation. They expose lots of fun to me when I try to learn in a informal setting.

    Yes. I will probably incorporate this project into the task-based language learning. The time-consuming task will be broken down into several small tasks which will eventually help the students finish the project. During the small tasks, I will prepare the students with what they need for the tasks, including vocabulary, grammar, syntax resources, and genre knowledge. In the end, the students are going to carry out the final project and share it with the authentic audience in the digital media.

    • Hi, Olivia, thanks for sharing your comment here. I can’t agree with you more that vocabulary learning becomes easier and fun in such a stress-free environment. It seems that inferencing the meanings of new words and phrases based on the attached images leads to a more solid memory than simply reading the bilingual vocabulary list.
      Also, it is nice to see that you have your own views on how to incorporate this teaching method into the language curriculum. Before completing the final project, those scaffolding activities will allow students to acquire the literacy skills or language knowledge that are beyond their ability. In this way, students will be more aware of what they have learned.

  18. I have experience of composing multimodal design. I have presented a shortcut of film to my students and let them create the whole story. I was surprised to see how creative my students are, and this way has attracted the students more. In fact in our teaching practice and in daily life, the multimodal composing is frequently seen, the WeChat interaction, the blog, all these combine videos, pictures and so on. I will certainly adopt this approach in my teaching practice.

    • Hi, Daisy, it is glad to see that you have already implemented this approach in your class. Yes it is an efficient way to stimulate learners’ motivation. Hopefully your students will gain a lot of benefits from multimodal composing tasks in the future.

  19. I have experience of composing multimodal design. I have presented a shortcut of film to my students and let them create a whole story. I was surprised to see how creative my students are, and this way has attracted the students more.
    In fact in our teaching practice and in daily life, the multimodal composing is frequently seen, the WeChat interaction, the blog, all these combine videos, pictures and so on. I will certainly adopt this approach in my teaching practice.

  20. I think multimodal form of learning material is beneficial for my own learning. I found I tend to be more focused when I listing a news instead of reading newspaper. So learning process will be more effective when the input is in a listening form. So I belive that the multimodality of learning input can satisify the different learning styles of different individuals.

    I would like to introduce it into my real Englush teaching practices. It may make students become more interested and more motivated into the class content.

    • Thank you for your commenting, Cathy~ Yeah, I completely agree with you. It suits different learning styles. For example, I think you are more skilled in absorbing new knowledge through listening rather than the text-based monomode materials. Therefore, multimodal composition does make it possible for learners to combine all the different senses in handling the same content and achieve more efficient learning outcomes. Also, I am glad that you will implement this new notion into your future profession, but I’m curious about how you will integrate it into your teaching. Teaching them to produce a multimodal composition or using bridging approaches to bring in multimodal composition works in order to arouse students’ learning interest in the topic?

    • Thank you for your commenting, Cathy~ Yeah, I completely agree with you. It suits different learning styles. For example, I think you are more skilled in absorbing new knowledge through listening rather than the text-based monomode materials. Therefore, multimodal composition does make it possible for learners to combine all the different senses in handling the same content and achieve more efficient learning outcomes. Also, I am glad that you will implement this new notion into your future profession, but I’m curious about how you will integrate it into your teaching. Teaching them to produce a multimodal composition or using bridging approaches to bring in multimodal composition works in order to arouse students’ learning interest in the topic?

  21. Yes, last week our group did the posting too. For language learning, it motivated us to read the article with specific purposes, which help us to grasp the structure of the article and read it easily. It also enhanced our skills of summarizing. As a teacher, I will try this approach, but it will depend on the level of students. For basic to medium level students, it can be used as an additional material to language leaning. For higher level students, I will assign them to compose a post with multimodal resources on online communities. And they will need to communicate with people online and think of a way to attract other people to read their posts.

    • Hhhhhh, yes, we are all experiencing it through blog posting. Thank you for sharing, Shanice~
      The organization of the semiotic modes, for example, the fonts, picture, and structure, enables us to deduce the main points easily and enhance our strategic learning. Here, you mentioned the level of students. I absolutely agree with you that this new notion should be introduced in a sequence. So, what level do you think is a higher level to engage them in a real online space, in terms of their age or language level or their digital literacies level?

  22. Yes of course I have this kinds of experiences. Actually in this digital age, I think most of us have these experiences no matter we notice it or not. When I was young I was interested in stories with pictures compared with those not. And when I read novels now, it would be easier for me to concentrate on the content with audio that reading this novel, or I would be distracted easily and it takes me forever to finish reading a novel.

    And as a teacher, I think vedio composing may be a good choice to ask students to do. For example, vlog is popular among young people now and I can ask them to introduce a topic in English to their audiences in thier vlog. This kind of task may motivate them a lot.

    • Thank you for your comment, Erin~
      Exactly, the storybook is a typical type of multimodal composing. I have assigned English picture book reading tasks to young learners and met with a high rate of motivation and curiosity in English learning. Besides, the idea of introducing vlog is quite inspiring because it is one of the most widespread multimodal composing forms nowadays. As long as the voice-over is recorded through English, this assignment will improve students’ English proficiency. In this case, they also adopt the new identity as vloggers when participating in an online community, which facilitates their language learning in the digital wild as well.

  23. When I was doing my undergraduate at Lingnan University, I was asked to record my independent learning on the Mahara page in which we were required to register our self-directed learning using the multimodal format. Honestly, it was kind of stressful that time as teachers did not give sufficient instructions, and it was like you have to rely on your own.

    However, as a local teacher now, I would consider attempting this approach as I believe students can perform better in these kinds of multimodal format. Given the ample time, they have due to the epidemic, by asking them to work on such activities would encourage them to collaborate with their classmates which they haven’t seen for a while, as well as keeping them motivated in language learning.

    Nonetheless, if that’s the case that I am going to actualize the idea, I would still have to think about what kinds of theme or topic to have them focused. Also, I am worried if my instructions are not clear enough. So still there are limitations in using such forms of learning.

    • Thank you for your comment, Warren.
      Your experience really reminds us that teachers should give more guidances for students and try to assist them during the process, rather than just assign students to finish the tasks without any sprcific instructions.
      Indeed, although DMC is a good approach for language learning and teaching, there is still lack of proper training for teachers. Thus, teachers might get into trouble when they are designing the tasks for students.

  24. Yes I have experienced reading a multimodal design before, actually, quite a lot. I’m fond of watching educational videos on bilibili and Youtube, which ususally include well-designed animation and some captions that inform viewers of important points the voiceover is trying to stress. In my perspective, the harmonious coordination of audio, image(animation) and text is way more efficient in conveying information compared to traditional writing.
    In my own teaching, I will try to intergrate this approach into my class, but I will design different activities according to the students’ English proficiency. For beginners, I’ll probably just make good use of the hiteborad in class, for instance, ask students to come to the front and match a picture with its correspondent English vocabulary on the screen. Kids often find these kinds of activities interesting. For intermediate and advanced learners, I may assigne them a group task which requires them to think about their own advantages( writing/ correcting others’ mistakes/visuals) and create a blog post together with their teammates.

    • Thank you for your comment, Tina.
      I agree with your idea that multimodal design is an efficient way to absorb information. I also usually use bilibili for watching entertaining videos and some eductaional videos. However, I found that the content quaility of videos from bilibili is uneven. Do you have any recommended English learning videos for beginners?

  25. Yes of course. I think we are having experience in doing multimodal composing now. We share our comments on the blog, so we can interact with other classmates, I believe this process enhances my language and digital literacy learning.

    As for me, I will definitely implement this approach into my class. I’d like to create a platform like our class blog, where students can write some posts and share their ideas. I think it is really a good way to practice our multimodal composing and critical thinking.

    • Thank you for your comment, Ariel.
      Indeed, we are all doing the multimodal composing in this course. I think this kind of activity really increases the communication between classmates. We can feel free to write down our thought in the Internet. In addition, we also practice the way of creating multimodal composing project and enhance our language learning.

  26. Yes I had a lot of experience of composing or reading a multimodal design before. For example, I have listened to and read some e-books at the same time. I have got input from the soundtrack and the written text. It also improved my listening and reading skills.

    I think it’s fun to implement it into my class. It helps students to illustrate their ideas with various methods. For example, when students learn to describe an object, they could put a picture and written texts together, or they might paint the object by themselves. It might be time-consuming, though, if it’s a big task. So teachers also needs to pay attention to it, and don’t overload their students.

    • Thanks for the comment, Vanessa.
      It is great that you are already familiar with the multimodal design. I notice that a lot of our classmates had related experiences of either composing or receiving information from such a project, but did not know it is called multimodal design. Personally, I consider learning in this way is more relaxed and fun. And as you mentioned, when involved in this kind of project, we can develop multiple skills at the same time. Also, I agree that implementing this approach into the classes will be fun. At the same time, teachers need to provide guidance and instruction to facilitate such learning and avoid giving too much work beyond students’ capabilities.

  27. I’ve had many experience reading multimodal designs before and I’ve also been involved in creating multimodal designs. When I was a kid, I really enjoyed watching the Discovery Channel, which mainly broadcasts documentaries about popular science, new technology and historical archeology. Those videos not only helped me increase my knowledge, but also useful for learning English, especially listening and reading skills.

    If I become a teacher in the future, I will implement this approach in the classroom. I think this is a great way to help students improve their language skills and communication skills, because they have access to a large number of resources and have the opportunity to negotiate specific tasks. However, considering some harmful information and possible technical problems on the Internet, it is very important to choose the theme and materials of the activity correctly. I will try to select tasks that are not very technically and equipment-demanding to ensure that students are more involved in the activity. Meanwhile, I will know the students’ interest in advance, and design my class according to the teaching objectives I expect. There may be activities like making a short video on a certain topic, etc.

    • Thanks for your comment, Julie.
      It seems that most of us share a very similar experience in learning English from multimodal design. We can indeed practice more than one language skill when engaging in this kind of project. I agree that we should be careful about choosing the topic and type of multimodal design tasks before introducing them to students. Otherwise, students might get misled by harmful information or overloaded.

  28. Yes, I have experience of reading multimodal design, for instances, reading articles on WeChat. Also, during my undergraduate studies, my professors sometimes would introduce knowledge with this kind of materials.
    As a future English teacher, I would implement this approach into my class as it is an attractive way to appeal to students’ attention. And after class, l would assign homework like making a video to summarize your feeling after reading a book or watching a movie.

    • Thanks for your comment, Brenda.
      It is also one of my habits of reading articles in Wechat. Several authors upload English articles, and sometimes they integrate sound, images, and videos in their writing. I found those work quite eye-catching and informative. I plan to be an English teacher in the near future, and I will also implement this approach into my classes. I agree that students will find it interesting and thus be more engaged in language learning.

  29. 1 Definitely, I have experience of reading and composing the multimodal design. Especially after using the smartphone and portable computer, I can nearly do it everyday. For example, I used to watch TED videos to improve my English abilities mainly including listening and reading when I am watching it and when I do some follow-up activities like shadowing practice, I can improve my speaking. Through observing the actions of speakers, powerpoint slides design and reactions from the audience, I can also enhance my understanding about public speech which I will do a lot both in academic and working places.

    2 Yes, I will use this approach. For high schools English textbook, each unit has a theme. I can ask students in group to search information before the course of each unit, and to use multimodal composing to present the interesting information about the unit theme. It might be demanding, but it is also rewarding to motivate students and give them more opportunities to use the language and digital skills simultaneously.

    • Hi, Lyla, thanks for sharing your ideas. Exactly, the popularity of information technology makes it easier for us to read or compose the multimodal design. Also, I enjoy watching TED videos as you do. It has become not only a tool for me to learn English but also a resource to cultivate my critical thinking ability and presentation skills. And it is nice to see that you have your own views on how to incorporate this teaching method into the language curriculum. By reproducing the content in each unit through a multimodal project, students can gain a deeper understanding of the article and themes, as well as the use of different modalities.

  30. Yes, as the new media is becoming more and more popular, we are exposed to multimodal reading more than the original form. I used be in charge of the Wechat public account of the school that I had once worked for. I composed articles that combines texts, pictures and sometimes videos in one post. And sometimes I also use H5 to do the post, which involves more picture than texts.
    I think when I do multimodal reading, I feel relaxed because when the content would be less serious if it is in multimodal. The image and animation help me to understand and interpret the content as well.

    I definitely would like to try this approach in my class since it is unavoidable in our daily lives. For example, during this quarantine time I would recommend students to produce their own vlog introducing their daily life during this time.

    • Thanks for your comment, Ariel~
      Wow, I am so glad that you have rich experiences in producing multimodal composing till now. It does reduce the formality of the text itself and also the responsibility of analyzing among the audience. And I’m wondering what language you used in your Wechat posts, through English or Chinese?
      The topic you recommended above would certainly be an excellent way to arouse students’ interest. Since the virus was spreading, all the students and teachers have tried e-learning. Teachers can seize the chance to introduce multimodal composing to link students’ language learning and their daily life sharing.

    • Thanks for sharing your opinions, Ariel! Exactly, we read and create different forms of multimodal projects everyday, and sometimes we didn’t even realize they are multimodal. And I shared the same experience of composing the articles in a WeChat public account when I was an undergraduate. To make my articles more appealing, I also added videos, funny images and changed fonts. The toolkit of different modalities enable us to freely express ourselves.
      I also found the idea of incorporating vlog into classroom is quite funny. Hopefully, you and your students will gain a lot of benefit from this innovative task.

  31. Yes, I have the experience of reading a multimodal design. I have subscribed lots of English learning channels in different websites. It is more interesting and clearer to watching the video constructed in the form of pictures, cartoons and so on. It makes the whole structure quite clear and easy to understand.
    As a secondary school teacher, I may not introduce this approach in the classroom due to the availability of equipment and limited teaching time. But I will encourage students to do a group work in their summer or winter vocation so as to enhance their interest of learning English.

    • Thank you for your comment, Christine~
      I have the same experience as you. I can tell you I even follow lots of English learning channels on the TikTok, an app containing a variety of multimodal composition. It enables language learning to become less stressful, and the knowledge is transmitted in a more logical way.
      Yes, the technical reason is definitely a major concern in the mainland. Additionally, the examination-driven learning context prevents us from learning language through a more implicit means. The language points to be assessed should be the main focus of the teachers. Therefore, if teachers are willing to implement multimodal composing in instructional classes, we ‘d better check the curriculum first.

  32. Do you have any experience of composing or reading a multimodal design before? If yes, can you further elaborate on how it enhances your language/ digital literacy learning?
    Yes, I do have read a lot of multimodal designs. Since I like reading online, I subscribed a lot of official accounts on WeChat, and the posts are very familiar with blogging posts here, with inserted videos, pictures, songs and even animation effects. With the multimodal design, it gives you aesthetic enjoyment and keeps your attention.

    As a possible English teacher, will you implement this approach into your class? What kinds of teaching activities or tasks will you use?
    Yes, I will absolutely apply this approach to my class. Since students are encouraged to possess digital literacy capacity, I will provide them with more presentation opportunities in class. Weekly, I will choose a curriculum-relevant topic, and ask one group of students give the class a presentation about that topic. So, this is a task-based reading/writing assignment. To complete the task, the students have to do some investigation and collect information, and they also need to learn how to use the multimedia tools, therefore their digital literacy and English learning will be consolidated.

    • Thanks for your comment, Mira! I am glad to see that you have read a lot of digital design. And I share the same habit of reading articles from WeChat public accounts as you do. Rather than being distracted by these modalities, I feel that those appealing pictures, music allow me to focus more on reading and understanding the text.
      Also, your ideas about incorporating the multimodal project into task-based language learning seems applicable. That is a good opportunity for them to develop their literacy skills and language productive competence.

  33. If videos similar to the one you provide right in the beginning of your blog, I suppose I do have the experience of reading a multimodal design. I really like these kinds of videos because I know I am learning something but feeling no pressure as in the traditional ways. I believe that should be the strength of a multimodal design. Learners learn in a freer environment. But I also have my concern towards how to integrate it into traditional classroom. As for me, I am sometimes distracted by the entertaining factors on the Internet. So I really need to find out how to improve the self-discipline of learners since this kinds of activities usually conducted after the class.

    • Hi, Phoebe, thanks for your comment. Exactly, learning through multimodal design is quite inspiring. And it is true that we should take the issue of the distraction into consideration, as it may affect the intended aim of the teaching task. Also, it is a time-consuming task, so it makes sense to take it as an extracurricular activity.

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