Tag Archives: multimodality

Developing Voice in Digital Storytelling Through Creativity, Narrative and Multimodality

Reviewed By: Grace Song, Avery Campbell, Anna Johnson, Carla Axume, Millie Jones

Link to article: http://seminar.net/index.php/volume-6-issue-2-2010/154-developing-voice-in-digital-storytelling-through-creativity-narrative-and-multimodality

Synopsis / Summary (article’s core research question)
In this study, Monica Nilsson explores how digital storytelling has the potential to significantly alter the way children develop literacy and creativity, communicate experiences, explore new meaning and knowledge, and express themselves. Digital storytelling, in this context, is defined as “a multimodal narrative text comprising pictures, music, speech, sound and script.” Nilsson’s research revolves around a nine-year old boy, Simon, who struggles with reading and writing. When given the opportunity to express himself through digital stories, Simon becomes deeply engaged, which Nilsson argues is because digital storytelling became the trigger for his interest in literacy.
In her research, Nilsson explores this core research question: What impact does digital storytelling have on children’s ability not only to master structural writing techniques, but also “communicate experiences, explore new meaning and knowledge, and perform self-representation and self-expression,” and by so doing develop, “real voice” in their writing?

Research Methods Used
In her research, Nilsson analyzes Simon’s digital stories using multimodality and visual analysis. Machin (2007) defines multimodality as a way to express that “the way we communicate is [not done] by by a single mode…” but rather by a combination of visual, sound, and language (p. x). “Multimedial approaches systematically described the range of choices available and how they are used in context… [and] therefore describes the grammar of visual communication” (ibid. p. ix).
For structure in her analysis, Nilsson uses the three basic requirements of semiotic modes of communication: ideational (“states the affairs of the world” – e.g. yellow stands from sunlight or warmth), interpersonal (“represents and communicates the social and affective relationships towards what is being represented” – e.g. yellow stands for happiness), and textual (“about the coherent whole, genres, and how parts are linked together” – e.g. a color for headings to “show they are of the same order”) (Nilsson, 2010, p. 5).

Findings and Conclusion (of the article)
Digital storytelling provides many opportunities to engage students in different multimodal forms of learning, as in the case of Simon, who was effectively able to learn to read and write through digital storytelling. Although literacy is traditionally understood as learning to read and write, Nilsson describes literacy as “drawing conclusions, making associations, and connecting text to reality.”
From this study, Nilsson found that Simon was learning “interpersonal meta-function,” referring to the interaction between producer and receiver, as well as “textual meta-function,” or the linking of parts and their composition. All of this was possible through digital storytelling. Additionally, Nilsson found that Simon’s digital stories were not “randomly assembled images, music, speech, captions and sound,” but rather “consciously, creatively, well reasoned and well crafted composition(s).” Digital storytelling also furthered Simon’s understanding of literacy as a social and cultural activity.
Nilsson concludes that though digital storytelling is a different process for learning to read and write than traditional methods, expressing, creating meaning, and communication still hold the common value of both and provide a significant way of learning that helps overcome learning challenges.

As our group considers digital storytelling and the ways it supplements education-related research, we have several questions relating to both the article and digital storytelling in general.
One question regards teaching theory. How can digital storytelling be assimilated into school environments, but not forced upon students? Or should it be assimilated in such a way that students need to complete a graded digital storytelling assignment? In today’s education world, there are many thoughts on the different types of learners and standardization. Should digital storytelling be encouraged for those who are interested and naturally more creative, or should it be used to bring out the creativity of those who may not at first be interested?
Another question for consideration is how can digital storytelling be used in libraries? As libraries are constantly changing and adapting to newer technologies and ideas, librarians will need to provide programs and opportunities for patrons that optimize learning and engagement with library resources. How can digital storytelling be a part of this? As many educational researchers are now putting a great emphasis on early literacy, it is pertinent to consider how technology can be a part of digital storytelling in libraries, too?

Final Thoughts / Conclusion
When considering using digital storytelling in schools, but not forcing it on every student, optional or extra credit assignments may be considered. This option may replace traditional assignments for students who have kinesthetic learning styles, or who are simply interested in exploring a new learning method. Conversely, mandatory digital storytelling assignments are intriguing because they could help students unlock untapped creative potential, unrealized through traditional learning methods. Adding a digital storytelling element to school curriculums would help students think and express themselves in new and creative ways.
Digital storytelling can also help children and youth, like Simon, who attend their local library. The library provides another place, as well as additional resources and materials, for children and youth to effectively learn and become literate. As Nilsson’s argues, libraries promote literacy in children and youth by providing them a place to find their voices and connect to the texts they’re creating.

Machin, D. (2016). Introduction to multimodal analysis. London: Hodder Arnold. Retrieved from: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=mwZfDAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=%22Introduction+to+Multimodal+Analysis%22+Machin&ots=84X_VkGPpt&sig=WedPbytmGnWOQJfqxOiZPs8CQZE#v=onepage&q=%22Introduction%20to%20Multimodal%20Analysis%22%20Machin&f=false

Nilsson, M. (2010). Developing voice in digital storytelling through creativity, narrative and multimodality. International Journal of Media, technology & Lifelong Learning 6(2). Retrieved from: https://doaj.org/article/17d2a778143742a78fe9f9d517b92e4d

A Multilingual and Multimodal Approach to Literacy Teaching and Learning in Urban Education: A Collaborative Inquiry Project in an Inner City Elementary School

Reviewed By: Megan Haney, Christine Sanbrailo, Delmi Rodriguez, Hope Katzman, and Kristine Moralez

Link to article: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00533/full

For this assignment, we chose to explore an article about how an inner city Canadian school dealt with the rising population of students whose primary language was not English or French, the two most commonly spoken languages in Canada. This article reports on a project that seeks to demonstrate the importance of multilingualism, multimodality, and multiliteracies to student’s success in and beyond school. Two grade school teachers and two university based researchers conducted the project in order to answer how they could better assist their students academically and in literacy learning. The project became known as a Collective Pedagogical Inquiry. The study was conducted in a K-8 school with around 550 students. Seventy six percent (76%) of the student population spoke a language other than English at home. These students are referred to as English Language Learners, or ELL.

According to Ntelioglou, Fannin, Montanera, and Cummins (2014), in recent years prior to the project, researchers have found that with, “a change in outlook, mainstream classroom teachers can implement multilingual, multiliteracies pedagogies with positive results from their students,” (p. 2). Coupled with this, the authors drew their research questions from parents and teachers who had concerns that, “home languages other than English or French have been viewed as largely irrelevant to children’s schooling,” (Ntelioglou et al., p. 2). The main research questions the authors hoped to address were twofold: What tactics could teachers use to promote student engagement and literacy for English language learners, and how can these teachers use a multiliteracies approach to increase learning while maintaining a connection to a student’s home language and cultural awareness?

To answer their questions, the researchers gathered observation field-notes, took videos of the class teachings as well as the multimodal objects created in the classroom, which included digital texts, drama performances, and student writings. Formal and informal interviews were also conducted between the teachers and students, and then between the teachers and parents.

For the writing project, the students were asked to describe their favorite place within the school. Subsequent steps for the project included first drawing a picture or taking a picture with an iPad, and then writing a description of what this place meant to them. Following these steps, the students’ parents were brought in so that their child could interview their parents about their experiences in third grade, and what their favorite place was when they were in school. Some students went beyond the initial assignment and turned their writing project into multimodal presentations ranging from songs in their native language to a drama performance that included Hungarian, Mandingo, Spanish, and Tibetan speaking students.

Researchers found that multimodal and multilingual practice allowed the students to increase literacy skills, become more confident both in the classroom and out, and be more engaged in the learning process. Another result of the project was a change in teacher/student relationships; the student became the expert when expressing themselves in their native language. This role reversal contributed to the students’ increasing personal, social, and classroom self-esteem. The authors explain, “The multilingual and multimodal practices in the classroom changed the power relations in the classroom and allowed the students access to identity positions of expertise, increasing their literacy investment, literacy engagement and learning. At the beginning of this project, the two teachers were worried because many of the newcomer ELL students, especially the Roma students, had developed ‘learned helplessness,’” (Ntelioglou et al., p. 6). Through the project, students became excited to explore their home language even if they were not fluent, and this helped them form both a deeper identity with their cultural background and an excitement to learn.

The student/teacher relationship was not the only one to shift; the student/classmate relationship was also affected by the project. The researchers, “decided to first teach the use of the technology (use of iPad, computer applications, etc.) to these ELL students so that they could become the experts, and later could teach their classmates, accessing their identity positions of expertise,” (Ntelioglou, et al., p. 6).

Our group was left with a few questions after assessing the article. One question that was posed by each of us individually is how would this kind of project work in the United States? In cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York, where dozens of different home languages are spoken, how would teachers be able to adequately prepare themselves to help students complete a project both in English and in their native language? Another question we had concerns the timing of the project, specifically how much of the school year was allotted for this exercise? Lastly, the researchers are convinced that the project was a success, but they have taken no steps to measure that success. They use general terms to explain the students’ increased classroom engagement, but do not provide the reader with any conclusive or statistical evidence to prove their outcomes.

Our group is interested to read about how this same sample group of students has done in their subsequent years of schooling. Were they permitted in other classes to use both English and their home language?

Further research for this topic would include expanding the group of students surveyed, not just outside this specific school, but also perhaps to reach to other age groups.

Source Cited
Ntelioglou, B. Y., Fannin, J., Montanera, M., & Cummins, J. (2014). A multilingual and multimodal approach to literacy teaching and learning in urban education: A collaborative inquiry project in an inner city elementary school. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1-10. Retrieved March 3, 2016, from http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00533/full

Education Remix: New Media, Literacies, and the Emerging Digital Geographies

By Sara Evans, Jessica Gilbert Redman, Joanne Rumig, & Marcia Seaton-Martin

Link to article: http://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/dce1034_vasudevan_2010.pdf

Article Synopsis & Core Research Questions

Vasudevan (2010) explores the way in which emerging digital geographies are making a difference in the way our youth population are being educated today, whether in the classroom or outside the school, as well as how technology is changing the way in which they communicate with their peers and teachers. Her research focus is to examine the types of digital spaces that youth are participating in and how they can be incorporated into current education practices. YouTube, Flickr, and other digital literacies such as cell phones, mp3 players, social networking sites, and virtual worlds have all contributed to this movement where students are engaged in the learning process both online and in the classroom. This affects the instruction models and assessment tools already in place.

In this particular article Vasudevan examines the social media practices and the technologies used by two youths, Joey and EJ, that are currently involved in an alternative to incarceration program (ATIP). Using portable technologies, Joey and EJ explored digital geographies in various workshops and improved writing skills using various digital spaces. In both examples the relationships between literacies and modalities are highlighted, and how their experiences will shape curriculum design in youth education.

Methods Used

The primary methods employed are case study examples from Joey and EJ in the ATIP workshops. Both completed different creative projects in different cycles of the program. Joey’s project was a part of a digital media workshop, where students were asked to create “movies,” and EJ’s project was a part of a larger program called The Insight Theatre Project, where students were asked to co-write scripts which were performed by other participants. The researchers used ethnography styled approaches to examine the processes of the either student in creating their projects, though these approaches were complicated by the students immersion in virtual spaces where the researcher could not necessarily situate themselves.The focus, however, was examining how either project highlighted the digital literacy and level of media engagement of the student, and how either changed throughout the course and with the addition of more virtual spaces for the students to occupy.

Findings & Conclusions

As a result of the digital medial workshop, Joey was able to use a digital camera not only as a tool but as a space to show the layered geography of his life. He used his PSP as a tool to transfer files from the camera to his online profile, while gaining new skills of customizing backgrounds and uploading music and multimedia poems. Through the use of ProTools, Joey was able to create beats for his multimedia narrative and later create a collection of beats for other multimodal compositions. He got a renewed sense of exploring his personal history with the PSP and the digital camera.

EJ began to navigate new spaces, starting with writing blogs, which helped him develop more of an appreciation for multiple audiences. With the blogging and observations he made, he started to identify himself not only as an intern but also as an ethnographer. As his composing evolved, his digital geographies began to include Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. By accessing many digital composing spaces, EJ was able to participate in new communities, be recognized for new identities, and gain new audiences.

“By paying attention to digital geographies, particularly the navigation across digital spaces and orchestration of multiple modalities, educators can cultivate youth’ literacies while at the same time inspire new sites of education” (Vasudevan, 2010, p. 79).

Further Research Opportunities & Unanswered Questions

Given the few student examples we see, it would be interesting to see how students use the digital landscape on a wider basis. One student uses technology in interesting and unusual ways, but how common is this “thinking outside the box”? What percentage of students get to know their technology this well, so they are able to think up new ways to use the technology? It would be helpful to know what students are using and to what point they are being creative with technology.

We often see students who are so-called digital natives who do not have what many consider basic digital skills (e.g., being able to enter a web address in the address bar of a browser instead of using Google to find the site and then clicking on it from the search results). Based on these observations, how many students are actively and eagerly participating in furthering their technological skills and knowledge beyond what is required for basic interpersonal communication (texting, Facebook, etc.)? By this, what we really want to know is if the Joeys and the EJs of the student world are outliers or if they are the norm. How much technological inquisitiveness can we expect from the average student? Are they willing (and/or able) to go above and beyond the normal requirements of a task or project to learn new skills or to bring together disparate skills in order to create something new?

Is it logical to believe that schools should have such varied types of technology (such as gaming systems or different types of computer OSes) available to students, just in case they might be able to use it creatively? Beyond that, do budgets allow for this possibility?

With schools fighting the influx of technology by often passing “screens down” or “phone basket” (where students put their phones in a basket upon entering a classroom to avoid the temptation of looking at it throughout class) regulations school-wide, where is the happy medium to make sure students are using technology effectively but not tuning out during the school day?

Vasudevan, L. (2010). Education remix: New media, literacies, and the emerging digital geographies. Digital Culture & Education, 2(1). Retrieved from http://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com