Author: Nasreddine Sarsar
Title: Adopting a Multimodal Approach to Address the Multiliteracy Needs of My Students
Publication Date: June 2008
Note: 13 pages
Pub. Type: Research Paper
Descriptors: new literacies, new digital divide, multimodality, print-based literacy, reconceptualizing literacy, out-of-school literacy
The technological advance that has dominated various aspects of our daily life has led to the emergence of new literacies. This created a need for reconceptualizing the old notion of literacy which was restricted to the ability of reading and writing. It has been stated forward by many scholars that we now require a richer and more diversified concept of literacy that includes not only verbal literacy, but also visual literacy (Buckingham, 2007; Jewitt, 2005; Makin & McLachlan, 2006; Pahl & Rowsell, 2005). In order for schools to respond to „digital native‟ (Prensky, 2002) students, many of the new emerging literacies should be embedded in the curriculum. Working these new literacies into the curriculum will serve a two-fold purpose: keeping the „new digital divide‟ (Buckingham, 2007) to a minimum and relating students‟ outof-school literacy practices to in-school literacy instruction. In an effort to embed the new burgeoning literacies into the curriculum, I have created a classroom website that would allow me to rely on my students‟ „digital capital‟ that has often been overlooked. The website will also help students move from a monomodal approach that relies mainly on print-based text to a multimodal one that requires them to explore a variety of modes to get access to meaning.
Adopting a Multimodal Approach to Address the Multiliteracy Needs of My Students Introduction
The move from the dominance of the page to that of the screen (Kress, 2003) over the past century has had great impacts on youths‟ out-of-school literacy practices. The supremacy of the book, which used to be our sole meaning-making technology, has been supplanted by the supremacy of the screen “that [is] colorful, that [has] animation, texture and dimensionality as governing technologies” (Rowsell, 2006: 1).
The adaptation from page to screen has changed
the old concept of literacy. Jewitt (2005) posits that the shift “from the medium of the book and the page to the digital medium of the computer and the screen” (p. 13) has entirely altered what it means to be literate in an age of information. Formerly, meaning-making depended heavily on the written word in a way that literacy was merely “confined to aspects of learning to decode and encode print” (Spodek & Saracho, 2005: 156). However, today “language alone cannot give us access to the meaning of the multimodally constituted message” (Kress, 2003: 35) because meaning is spread across several modes such as writing, image, sound, video etc. This claim resonates with that of Carrington and Marsh (2005) in that “any understanding of literacy can no longer be about basic print skills” (p. 279). Accordingly, literacy should no longer be viewed as a singular construct, but rather as multiple literacies (Gee 2000; Luke 2000a; The New London Group, 1996, 2000 cited in Barone & Morrow, 2003). Luke (2000a) posits that multiple literacies draw on “a range of knowledge to make meaning of the linguistic, audio, and visual representations created by new technologies” (cited in Barone & Morrow 2003: 179). The speedy advance of information technologies lies behind the emergence of a techsavvy population that has grown up around computers and the Internet. Unfortunately, this population – referred to by Prensky (2002) as „digital natives‟ – sees little or no connection between in-school literacy and literacies practiced in out-of-school settings. Wagner (1993) affirms that “literacy skills taught in school may bear only a partial resemblance to the kinds of abilities and knowledge utilized in the performance of literacy tasks in everyday life” (p. 188). The disparity now...
Bibliography: Level: Issues and Challenges, Hershey, PA: Idea Group, 2005.
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