Multiliteracies and Technology Enhanced Education: Social Practice and the Global Classroom

Multiliteracies and Technology Enhanced Education: Social Practice and the Global Classroom

Darren Lee Pullen (University of Tasmania, Australia) and David R. Cole (University of Technology - Sydney, Australia)
Indexed In: SCOPUS
Release Date: July, 2009|Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 340
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-673-0
ISBN13: 9781605666730|ISBN10: 1605666734|EISBN13: 9781605666747|ISBN13 Softcover: 9781616924454
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Description & Coverage

Recently, educators have begun to consider what is required in literacy curricula and best teaching practices given the demands placed on the educator sector and on literacy in general.

Multiliteracies and Technology Enhanced Education: Social Practice and the Global Classroom features theoretical reflections and approaches on the use of multiliteracies and technologies in the improvement of education and social practices. Assisting educators at different teaching levels and fostering professional development and progress in this growing field, this innovative publication supports practitioners concerned with teaching at both a local and global level.


The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Cam-capture literacy
  • Chemical literacy
  • Digital Technologies
  • History of multiliteracies
  • ICT integration
  • Literacy performances
  • Multiliteracies in practice
  • Multiliteracies perspective
  • Robotics as a vehicle
  • Sociocultural aspects of technology
  • Spatial literacy
  • Theorizing media productions
Reviews and Testimonials

"This book describes the global classroom and how educational uses of technology are coming together in terms of development and application. This book also details how new ways of teaching and learning are becoming apparent."

– Darren Pullen, University of Tasmania, Australia
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Editor Biographies
Darren Lee Pullen is a lecturer in ICT, professional studies and multiliteracies in the Faculty of Education at the University of Tasmania (Australia). He has a diverse background with previous employment as a research fellow in the health sector, ICT consultant, and educator. His research interest is in the management of change processes with a particular interest in the micro-meso-macro level relationships between technology innovations and human-machine (humachine) relationships and interactions.
David R. Cole is a senior lecturer in English and pedagogy at the University of Technology, Sydney. His major research areas are multiliteracies, multiple literacies, and affective aspects of literacy and education. He has worked as an international English teacher on four continents, and has published widely in academic journals including English in Australia, Educational Philosophy and Theory, and Prospect and Curriculum Perspectives. He is currently under contract to write two edited academic books on literacy theory, and has published a novel about Colombia called A Mushroom of Glass (2006). He is presently researching the complex multiple literacies of Sudanese immigrant families living in NSW.
Editorial Review Board
  • Jonathan Binns, Australian Maritime College, Australia
  • Brian Cusack, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
  • Matthew Kearney, Kuring-gai Campus University of Technology, Australia
  • Elena Railean, State University of Moldova, Moldova
  • Sandy Schuck, Kuring-gai Campus University of Technology, Australia
  • Pam Wright, La Trobe University, Australia
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    What is the global classroom?

    This handbook represents a collaboration of researchers from the US, Canada, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong. These theorists and teachers are unified in the use of technology to transform education. At the beginning of the 21st century, technological transformations are not a periphery concern for educational practice, but organising factors that involve government, democracy and the ways in which pedagogy and educational power are being redistributed in contexts of high technology. In the 1990s, the development of the Internet gave rise to conceptions such as the global village, and new ways of teaching and learning involving hypertext, multimodality and virtual classrooms. In this handbook, these conceptions of education are being redrawn to take into account the actual working practices of classrooms that may or may not been hardwired into the global classroom.

    One could therefore say that the global classroom is a place where the educational uses of technology are coming together in terms of development and application and new ways of teaching and learning are becoming apparent. At the cutting edge of this plane of change is the relationship between tacit and designated learning opportunities that new technologies give rise to. For example, the learning communities that one finds online or in social networking software programmes are at the same time part of the complex identity units and distribution facilities for ideas about current culture. Teachers in these situations need to be aware how new forms of language, values, group dynamics and shifts in behaviour will change the learning requirements of their cohorts. This does not mean that one should become immediately conversant in SMS (short message service) messaging to be a teacher - but that understanding about how cultural homogeny mediated through technology determines the ways in which students may take a stance or hold attitudes that have previously been part of face-to-face performances (Pullen, Baguley & Marsden, 2009). Dialogic pedagogies such as debating or asking leading questions to get at the truth are transformed in an online environment into straw poles and contributions to discussion groups. The global classroom is the place where the transformation and translation from old ways of working into the new are taking place, and includes regressions, misunderstandings and retardation as well as fast-paced and irreversible change.

    The global classroom is consequently not an ideal space. The parallel development of communication technology with liberal democracy, has given rise to the ways in which these two practices cross over and project each other’s virtues. Communication may be seen as ‘perfectable’ in this context, and this conception is enhanced by the unreal clarity that digital technology may afford, especially with respect to the reproduction and malleability of images. Likewise, democracy has entered another phase, contained within the context of digital networks and media distribution that blurs the boundaries between the active choice-making of citizens and the manipulation of issues by interested parties. The global classroom is contained within this conjunction as a means to consolidating democratic rights and active participation in the processes of government that are increasingly involved with global capital flows, and the ways in which civil society is under pressure from the forces contained within global capitalism (Cole, 2007). Every classroom now has the global classroom running through it, not as an ideal way in which technology may join the learning space to every other classroom in the world, but as a flow of matter and ideas that takes students, teacher and administrators further into a technological mediated world where values may be conjoined through “affinity spaces” (Gee, 2005).

    Decisions about the make-up and uses of the global classroom are therefore vital to the future of liberal democratic society. Research into its functioning is the only way in which coherent educational policy and knowledge frameworks may be developed in order to prepare populations for new curricula. This research may take the form of qualitative studies, charting insider-knowledges and user-end stories. Investigating the global classroom may also produce factual evidence of a statistical nature that helps one to appreciate the ways in which this space is full of diverse elements that are competing for access and resources to augment fluid capital exchange. The research nexus is the point at which this handbook plugs into the global classroom. The coverage of three continents that this volume achieves, and by using a variety of educational methodologies, both gives the reader an expansive view of the changes that are apparent due to the global classroom. The global classroom may be characterised in this context as a plane of transformation involving personal and group identities learning through technological mediation.

    One could counter that there are still places in the world where the notion of a global classroom is irrelevant. Serious conflicts, poverty and remote rural communities may still interrupt the idea that technology is producing a new space for learning that joins the behaviours of populations. Yet within these potential social barriers to technological access are the ideas and links to becoming involved with the global classroom. For example, serious conflicts may eventually lead to peace or a social equilibrium where access to new learning behaviours becomes all the more important in an effort to avoid future conflicts. The world’s poor are joined by the struggle to overcome their material conditions, and research has shown that the most significant factor in order to achieve this is education. The global classroom is therefore present in the lives of the poor as an escape route from their circumstances, perhaps in the absence of organised educational facilities. Remote rural communities have potential access to new technology as it becomes more mobile and affordable. Hand-held computers and satellite communication may beam in the ways in which learning is changing to rural areas - as access is driven by the search for new markets. The global classroom is therefore ubiquitous, though fluid and resistant to characterisation as an ideal outcome of localised educational practice.

    How do multiliteracies and technology enhance education? Since the characterisation of multiliteracies in (1996) by the New London Group, much has changed in the field of literacy studies. The landmark aspect of the article in the Harvard Educational Review was to make a connection between the multiplicity of literacies that are present in learning contexts, and the wider plane of social change, so that teachers may make sense of this multiplicity of literacies and utilise it in the form of new pedagogies that correspond to diverse learning options – and with special reference to evolving technological applications. At the end of the article, the authors voice the hope that their article would be a beginning of changing educational conditions - so that the ideas contained within it could be distributed and used by teachers to improve educational outcomes through multiple literate opportunities in real classrooms. Has this hope materialised? How successful was their vision of new realms of literate and educational behaviours?

    Opinion in the field of literacy studies about these questions remains divided. There is a large and powerful body of evidence, which states that direct intervention in the literate behaviours of children, is the best way in order to initiate change. The many studies that have explored this phenomena use investigations into the application of synthetic phonics, to show how direct intervention has resulted in improved literacy results. Recent reports in the US (NICHHD, 2000), UK (Rose, 2006) and Australia (NITL, 2005) also criticise literacy ideologies that are based on constructivism or whole language ideology, and that may lead away from the direct intervention in the literate progress of children. The framework of multiliteracies stands on both sides of this fence, as it advocates switching between pedagogic modes, and utilising both direct instruction and situated practice that may be derived from progressive approaches to teaching wherever necessary. It is therefore unclear from the perspective of mainstream literacy research as to how successful or otherwise the multiliteracies framework has been in shaping real change in literacy classrooms.

    In Australia, multiliteracies has been incorporated into curriculum statements and state funded literacy projects. Educational research has however shown that the penetration of these ideas is limited. Even though teacher training in Australia has taken up the ideas contained in multiliteracies and shared them with their pre-service students, evidence shows that once the students get out into the workplace and practise teaching - the theoretical and practical aspects of multiliteracies seem to separate. Teachers readily identify with the use of critical literacy in the field, in that students should be taught how to critically analyse text, and teachers often combine critical literacy with Multiple Intelligences - so that their pedagogy does not always employ language, but also includes images, music, synaesthetics, numbers and spatiality. Multiliteracies is therefore transformed into multiple opportunities to critically analyse differing text styles and forms. The framework of multiliteracies is more pertinently identified by teachers in the long run with the use of technology in education, and the fact that software applications simultaneously require linguistic, visual, mathematic and logical skills. The practice of multiliteracies is therefore qualified and delimited by the technical confidence of the teachers, the technological facilities of the school and the ways in which technology has been integrated into the curriculum and how the teachers follow such mandates.

    The identification of multiliteracies with the use of educational technology has perhaps been its most abiding relationship in practice. In the UK, the term technological literacy is more readily employed to explain this situation. In the US digital literacies are more frequently referred to. The field of educational practice and research has also seen a mushrooming of new literacies, which sit between multiliteracies and actual technological applications as a type of map that shows how the field of ICT (information and communications technology) innovation and capital flow are forming new ways to communicate and build relationships. The questions about how technology changes and potentially enhances education and where multiliteracies fits into this are therefore complex. Some argue that the introduction of ICT into the curriculum heralds a new dawn of educational practice as any knowledge field can be uploaded and transmitted through digital media. Educational technologists might advocate desktop computers in every classroom, where students can access their files, work though the curriculum in an electronic form, and make their designs, calculations and explanations given available knowledge on the subject focus and any corresponding syllabus outcomes. Traditional ‘face-to-face’ apologists in education might throw up their arms at this suggestion and point to the lack of social and communal contact that this situation would encourage. It could also be argued that the wide-scale introduction of this kind of individualised computer technology might also be a ploy on the part of computer and software companies to shift product.

    The truth of the matter lies somewhere in between these two scenarios. Education has been enhanced and is still being enhanced through new developments in ICT. Yet there are still many areas of education that do not and should not use ICT as a form of mediation. For example, physical drama may be put forward as an important part of education that embodies narrative, ideas and concepts without recourse to digital technology. Students should have access and training in the most relevant and useful ICT applications, as the contemporary workplace increasingly requires such entry skills – yet educators should also be wary of the tendency to overload the curriculum with computer mediated activities that might take away from the students’ abilities in physical forms of learning and performance. Educational enhancement could therefore be sketched out as a balance between digital mediation and the physical embodiment of ideas (Cole & Throssell, 2008). Students involved with a balanced curriculum will become competent in working with new digital environments and be able to actively embody these ideas through their actions. Multiliteracies has this perspective written into its programme through the desire to create social futures. These futures are not dominated by ICT provision in education, but point to the ways in which technology may be deployed purposely in order to make life better…

    The chapters of the Handbook

    This Handbook commences with an introductory overview of literacy, technology and introduces the concept of multiliteracies. The purpose of this first chapter is to orientate the reader, both new and familiar, to the notion of what is multiliteracies. Following this orientation the authors demonstrate how multiliteracies is shaping our understanding and practice of what it means to be a literate person in the digital age.

    Chapter Two is Multimodal multiliteracies: Texts and literacies for the 21st century. Radha Iyer and Carmen Luke have brought together the knowledge processes of different text types with the central multiliteracies notion of Design. The authors argue that new textual types that ICT gives rise to and allows for have a direct impact on the literacy creativity of students. This creativity is figured as the process of connecting existing literacies to new literacies through design. The chapter incorporates a vignette of grade one students creating a digital storybook to illustrate this theory. The theory evident in this chapter draws heavily on the multiliteracies framework, and steers a path around print based definitions of literacy practice. The authors argue that the New London Group’s definition of multiliteracies has become more relevant since its inception due to an increasing number of ICT applications that are now part of everyday life. Furthermore, the importance of social justice as a transformative force in education, and the ambiguous notion of Design as a central pillar of multiliteracies, both add to the flexibility and applicability of the framework in changing learning conditions. The authors finish their overview of relevant multiliteracies ideas by describing its pedagogy, which they argue enhances the creativity of classroom practice and focuses on knowledge processes in multimodal texts. The vignette that is provided in this chapter shows how students in one particular grade one class produced a digital narrative. The teacher employed PowerPoint, Microsoft Paint software and audio recording so that the students could place story frames in sequence. This vignette demonstrates the principles of multiliteracies in action, and points to the knowledge processes of multimodality and the ways in which they may transform student creativity through learning.

    Chapter Three is named, Convergence: A framework for a new critical literacy. Working in Alaska, Jennifer C Stone & Ryan A Schowen have recognised the significance of critical literacy to multiliteracies. Their chapter uses Jenkins’ theory of convergence to analyse students’ online participation in recreational websites. This participation has been shown to be an important activity in young people’s lives and a subsequent factor in their development that deserves critical attention. The authors firstly contrast the ways in which critical literacy has been used to examine online web sites in the research literature. On one side, critical literacy has been deemed to be an extension of reading practices and the cognitive elements that accompany such activities. Web sites incorporate new ways to represent information and therefore new ways to read, and critical literacy is considered by some to be part of this changing practice. On the other side, and in line with the multiliteracies frame, critical literacy pedagogy importantly uncovers the political and ideological nature of text. The authors side with the second definition of critical literacy, that they propose is a preparation for real life encounters with text and any possible manipulations of meaning that are especially relevant in online environments. This is where the authors deploy the notion of convergence as a means to critically explaining the processes of meaning integration in web sites. The authors focus on the convergent aspects of textual practices, relationships of consumption and social relationships to critically analyse online texts. They analyse four web sites for aspects of ideological gender manipulation, and find that their critically convergent frame is a useful way of understanding how these web sites engage and keep young participants as users. This chapter shows how multiliteracies may be built upon through criticality and convergence in order to explain important cultural processes that have an impact on school life as well as the lifestyle choices of children.

    Chapter Four has the title, The dynamic design of learning with text. Lisa Patel Stevens & Molly Dugan deploy notions taken from complexity theory to conceptualise the dynamic nature of multimodal texts in an educational setting. The fundamental problem that permeates their chapter is to achieve a coherent theorisation of learning spaces that parallels multiliteracies. The authors include two case studies in their work that exemplifies this problem and points to possible solutions. It is noted that educational spaces are not necessarily set up for learning, and that they are “traditionally marked by relatively inflexible patterns of interactions”. This inflexibility can lead to a reversion in linear pedagogic modes of transmission when exploring multimodal text types, and that is clearly a hindrance with respect to following the divergent options that multimodality can lead to. To explain a means to circumventing this blockage, the authors suggest that one looks at the underlying grammar of multimodal texts, and henceforth fit this grammar into ‘schooling’. Grammar in this context is defined as sets of parameters and constraints, which show how different modes of multimodality function. This grammar is at odds with educational practice as defined by linear and normalising processes such as lesson plans and rigid curricula maps. This is the pivot at which complexity theory can lend a hand to educationalists in that the notion of enabling constraints is a basis for learning design that allows diversity to flourish. The authors describe two case studies to show how complexity theory works in this context, the first being teacher education, the second is a high school classroom. Both studies show how enabling constraints work to free up the relevant notion of text and help to fit corresponding pedagogies to this emerging textual dynamics. The chapter closes with an informative discussion about how the application of enabling constraints often works to simultaneously reveal institutional practices of power, and these can be explained with reference to the habitus.

    Chapter Five is called, Riding critical and cultural boundaries: A multiliteracies approach to reading television sitcoms. Julie Faulkner & Bronwyn T Williams describe a cross cultural study between the US and Australia, that examines graduate student participation in watching ‘foreign’ TV sitcoms and commenting on the corresponding cultural norms and resultant multiliterate practices. The American students watched Kath and Kim, whilst the Australians viewed Arrested Development. The author’s position multiliteracies as a manner of understanding the multiple ways in which young people now become literate through exposure to the media and computer mediated texts. Furthermore, the cultural differences and consequent literate identities of individuals and groups are now caught up in the ways in which texts interrelate across cultural borders, and form new ways of understanding communication and society. This chapter uses these changing cultural conditions to investigate the ways in which audience behaviour in relation to popular cultural is also caught up in multiliterate mores. In the past, audiences of cultural events were perhaps considered as passive receivers of information and values, which could only be discussed with immediate contacts. Now, online forums and email give audiences instantaneous ways in which to communicate their reactions to cultural artefacts. In fact, audience participation through electronic communication could now be figured as a critical factor in cultural growth. The study of this chapter places humour as a bridge between the societies the US and Australia, as the two TV shows that were chosen for the study have humorous affects in their respective host cultures. The authors analyse the two audience reactions to the shows and deconstruct the responses in terms of the cultural, linguistic and social parts. These parts are important elements in order to understand how multiliteracies relates to global cultural convergence and any consequent social practice.

    Chapter Six is about Rethinking literacy in culturally diverse classrooms. Jennifer Rennie writes about the differences in literacy practice between Indigenous and non Indigenous students in Australia. These differences are explored through a mixture of narrative excerpts from the lives of Kelly and Arnie and theorisation about the types of literacy practice that their stories exhibit. The author takes the position that literacy is a social practice, so one must describe the social life of the two boys in order to understand their respective literacy. Kelly, who lives in an urban context, has access to technology and does well at English even though he does not enjoy the books that he is asked to read. Arnie struggles with his English studies - he comes from a remote Aboriginal community, and does not have easy access to the latest technology, even though he likes to play computer games. Rennie uses ideas from the multiliteracies framework to help explain the differences in literacy practice between Kelly and Arnie - as literacy may be seen as a function of design, learning and place. Kelly has access to many learning opportunities in his place, whilst Arnie is dislocated from his community as he moves from his rural setting to an urban high school. Arnie’s school needs to design literacy practices that take account of his lifeworld, whereas Kelly is empowered at his school and in the design of his literacy activities due to his lifestyle, social position and place of residence. The author latterly concentrates on the situation of Arnie because the questions of literacy that his case raises are of particular importance and interest. There has been a lot of research into indigenous literacies in Australia, and the disparities in achievement that has often been noted. In the particular case of Arnie, designing literacy activities that positively includes his social background could mitigate the move to a highly organised high school and help him to explore the new institutional ways of learning with reference to his place of origin.

    Chapter Seven is Pragmatism and Philosophy: Enriching Students’ Lives through a Critical Investigation of Spatial Literacy in Shared Spaces. Margaret Baguley, Toni Riordan and Martin Kerby have investigated the concept of spatial literacy in an Australian boys’ boarding school established since 1891. The inherent tensions they encountered were between the design of building structures which catered for a traditional form of teaching instruction and a contemporary curriculum which required less rigid learning and teaching spaces. A substantial building program, in conjunction with a whole school curriculum plan, sought to challenge preconceived notions of what the college represented. The investigation of spatial literacy was contextualised through this curriculum plan which seeks to educate students through a student-centred curriculum that aims to develop critically aware and culturally sensitive world citizens. The increasing use of school spaces in order to address political, philosophical and environmental issues supports the multiliteracies approach and has worked effectively with the students who appear to learn more effectively through physical encounter. The history of the college is also physically evidenced in a range of monuments scattered around the campus which students pass as they move between buildings. The monuments, buildings, and environmental areas have subsequently been utilised as valuable ways to discuss the history and tradition of the college whilst simultaneously critically examining issues through the use of spatial literacy with the students.

    Chapter Eight has the title, Cam-capture literacy and its incorporation into multiliteracies. David R Cole and Vikashni Moyle have expanded the multiliteracies framework to include cam-capture literacy, which may be defined as the social practice of using small cameras attached to computers for communicative purposes. Cam-capture literacy consists of visual literacy, information literacy and personal literacy. The students learn about visual aspects of representation through their self-recorded videos, they also have to make decisions about the information they wish to represent, and explore personal aspects of representation, especially as they are able to view and share their videos amongst themselves and with the teacher. The research context for this chapter is a middle school environment in a lower social economic area of Tasmania. In this context, cam-capture literacy is positioned as an easy and relatively cheap way to empower the students with a technologically mediated practice. The participants in the study spoke about their mainstream school literacy studies, their hopes and methods for improving their literacy, as well as taking standard spelling, reading and writing tests at the beginning and end of the research. The authors perform a social qualitative analysis of the self-recorded video data, to produce what they terms as the, ‘cam-capture zones’. The quantitative results of the research reveal significant improvements in the print literacy skills of the students who took part in the project. The cam-capture zones are useful markers for literacy teachers in order to reengage their students in their designated activities. Cam-capture literacy can be deployed by teachers for self-reflection and as a purposeful link between traditional print literacies and the new literacies that are becoming apparent due to digital technology.

    Chapter Nine is named, Theorizing media productions as complex literacy performances among youth in and out of schools. Theresa Rogers has taken data from two major research projects in British Columbia and applied it to understanding complex identity construction in a multimodal context. The individuals involved with the research have shown a reluctance to engage with mainstream print literacy exercises, but become fully involved with the processes and potential messages that media production presents. The author argues that this change in agency that is brought about by media production; shows how education may be reorganised to include such processes in the learning cycle. The chapter includes a theoretical background in imagining, designing and communicating, whereby the ‘youth’ involved in the project may explore their identities. Furthermore, the social and cultural stereotypes of youth, boys and girls, are put into erasure through this research as the author has encouraged the participants to explore these questions of identity and labelling. The case studies have been taken from an alternative secondary school and an anti-violence project. They illustrate the creativity and messages that media production may unlock in youth, and the ways in which making videos and songs and art may be deployed to extract important self-reflective moments. One of the many impressive aspects of the case studies is the deep analysis and cultural significance that may be attached to the products. For example, the use of discursive play and cultural critique are both important teaching and learning themes that should be incorporated into pre-service training.

    Chapter Ten is about teacher training and has the title, Practising or preaching? Teacher educators and student teachers appropriating new literacies. Margaret Lo & Matthew Clarke in Hong Kong have implemented a 12-hour new literacies course in their teacher-training programme. The chapter describes how the new course had been designed and the ways in which the students have approached its completion. The context of research that is learning English in Hong Kong means that the pre-service teachers following the course are playing a ‘high-stakes’ game in terms of their qualifications and future job prospects. The investigators of this project are therefore faced with a potential contradiction between the theoretical background to understanding how new technology may be employed in literacy learning and the institutional reality of pre-service teachers in Hong Kong. For example, many of the teacher trainees were familiar and competent with respect to the social networking aspects of digital technology such as Facebook. Yet the trainees would not always make a connection between this behaviour and the types of online communities that the lecturers and researchers were trying to encourage. The theoretical background that the authors draw upon includes the ideas of a ‘community of practice’, ‘affinity spaces’ and ‘the new literacies’. These theoretical strands mark important parts of the multiliteracies framework that also includes the pedagogy of transformed practice and critical literacy. The Hong Kong new literacies course was based around a shared wiki, webblogging, fanfiction and producing a multimedia unit of work for a secondary school. The chapter includes fascinating data from the pre-service teachers who have taken part in the course and their reactions to the openness and the ‘freedom’ of the new pedagogic structure. The authors finish their investigation with an earnest reflection on the power related issues that their new course has highlighted, and they describe possible ways forward for teacher education.

    Chapter Eleven is ICT integration in second language writing: A case study approach. Christina Gitsaki, Abduyah Ya’akub & Eileen Honan present an interpretive case study of two Singaporean secondary schools. In this context, the pedagogic value of ICT has been investigated, and in particular the ways in which computer use has impacted (or otherwise) on the Malay language curriculum. The authors argue that even though Singapore is an extremely technologically advanced society with appropriate and extensive educational technology policy and provision, the use of computer technology in the classroom is still a ‘work-in-progress’. The particular focus of second language writing makes the point that more thinking around how to encourage students to write with ICT is needed to fully utilise this technology in education. The case study is broken down into process, contextualisation and learner-centredness, and includes details about teaching styles and classroom action in the two schools involved with the case study. These details are in line with the multiliteracies framework that encourages a critical investigation of pedagogic roles and the ways in which these roles are changing or under pressure due to new technologies. The authors conclude that the under utilisation of computer technology in second language writing is due to the socialisation of teachers, and the ways in which knowledge and practice have come together in education. In effect, ICT represents a new mode of writing that requires new pedagogy and a new way of conceptualising educative writing.

    Chapter Twelve is about Multiliteracies in secondary chemistry: A model for using digital technologies to scaffold the development of students’ chemical literacy This study takes place in the Australian state of Queensland, where perhaps the multiliteracies framework has been most widely applied in Australian schools. The researchers have used multiliteracies as a means to scaffold development in chemistry literacy, and as a manner of gauging representational competence with respect to multimodal texts and chemistry. The chapter begins with a discussion about the complicated ways in which students are challenged to represent data in chemistry. Digital technology has increased the complexity of representation in chemistry, as students now have a fleet of software packages that enable formulas, equations, diagrams, tables and description to be represented. The authors draw on multiliteracies research that has investigated ways in which students represent ideas, and applies these findings to chemistry. In particular, ‘writing-to-learn’ research is referred to as a useful means to scaffold chemical understanding. Furthermore, the central multiliteracies concept of Design, and the combinational pedagogic approach contained in the multiliteracies manifesto, are also explored by the writers as positive ways of scaffolding chemistry literacy. The chapter includes a detailed description of a chemistry unit of work and the ways in which applying the multiliteracies framework works in this context. The students were involved with conducting experiments and using their results to build data with respect to various biomaterials. The results of the study are presented in terms of quantitative and qualitative data, which show how the students have improved in their chemistry literacy by using computer technology. The chapter ends with recommendations for teachers, students and schools for using multiliteracies in education.

    The last Chapter Thirteen in the volume is called, Robotics as a vehicle for multiliteracies. Classroom teacher Marissa J Saville has described the use of robotics in the curriculum as a way of expanding literacies and engaging students in multimodal problems. The students may assemble and programme robots, and in so doing have to function multimodally in terms of understanding visual, mathematical and print text and transferring this knowledge into the kinetics and interactivity of the robots. The author supplements the theory of robots with multiliteracies in terms of explaining classroom and recess action and the ways in which the robotics club has enthused and excited her students. The action of ‘playing’ with robots could be considered to be a multiliterate educative act, in that it opens up lateral paths and communicative powers. The robots are in a sense proxy communication devices that may embody the ideas of the users. This is in line with the multiliteracies notion of designing social futures, that may be mediated through technological innovation and the cultural paths to the future opened up via robotic play – for example, the software/hardware interface that computer operated robots display.


    The collection of chapters in this handbook demonstrates the diverse range of interests and educational locations that multiliteracies may encompass. It is therefore impossible to delimit the scope of the project - and to position in it terms of political intent or technological development. The multiliteracies framework is crucially where the two worlds of educational technology and the need for social justice in education collide. This is a dynamic place - that is figured by users in real time - as much as theorists or academics trying to explain the ways in which this dynamic is reshaping learning, society and culture. For example, a youth alienated from mainstream education in British Columbia may post their self-reflective video film on YouTube, and it is latterly watched and the ideas picked up by a dejected school student in Singapore, who uses it as inspiration for a piece of multimodal writing! All this happens due to the conduits and interfaces now available through digital technology, and the flexible ways in which these pieces of the multiliteracies puzzle may synchronously fit together. In contrast to the new literacies movement, that could be limited and explained as a mapping of the ways in which digital technology is opening up new cultural, social and educative forms; the multiliteracies framework more readily accepts the dynamic interface between technology and justice that gives rise to new ways to interpret diversity. This gives educators a greater freedom and more precise way of integrating the potential otherness of contemporary culture into their everyday lesson and curriculum planning (Cole & Burke, 2008).

      David R Cole & Darren L Pullen