Creating Access, Opportunity, and Ownership Through Cross-Cultural Meaning-Making in Academically Diverse Online Courses

Creating Access, Opportunity, and Ownership Through Cross-Cultural Meaning-Making in Academically Diverse Online Courses

Christi U. Edge (Northern Michigan University, USA), Abby Cameron-Standerford (Northern Michigan University, USA) and Bethney Bergh (Northern Michigan University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8286-1.ch003

Abstract

As a group of three teacher educators representing reading, special education, and educational leadership, the authors conducted a self-study of their online teaching practices with the guiding question of “How can we use multimodal literacies to re-see our practices and to empower others to construct and to communicate meaning?” The purpose was to explore the pedagogic potentials of multimodal literacy by acting upon recent findings from their longitudinal, collaborative self-study into how they use and learn through visual literacy. They sought to extend their line of inquiry and to more inclusively empower learners to negotiate and to make meaning through multimodal literacy practices. Findings document how using protocols to critically “read,” discuss, and collaboratively make meaning from their online teaching practices illuminated the relationship of multimodal texts, visuals and literacy practices in fostering access, opportunity, and ownership for learners in online courses.
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Introduction

We are a group of three teacher educators representing the academic disciplines of reading, special education, and educational leadership. As products of the American school system, we have been enculturated to value linguistic texts as the authoritative medium for learning. As a result, we have each become skilled at the ability to learn from and teach through print-based texts. However, as teacher educators, we also value the authority of lived experiences captured through multimodal means. We recognize that “every instance of making and sharing meaning is a multimodal event involving many sign systems in addition to language” and that “when we limit ourselves to language, we cut ourselves off from other ways of knowing” (Harste, 2000, p. 4). Therefore, as teacher educators in three fully online graduate programs, we puzzled about how we might provide opportunities for others to learn through lived experiences and multimodal literacies in the online environment. We also wondered what we might learn about our own teaching—what assumptions, tensions, and transformations might take place by acting upon our existing, longitudinal self-study findings (Bergh et al., 2014; Cameron-Standerford et al., 2013; Edge, Cameron-Standerford, & Bergh, 2014; Cameron-Standerford, Edge, & Bergh, 2016), to explore our use of multimodal literacies in the fully online graduate learning environment. With the guiding question: “How can we use multimodal literacies to re-see our practices and to empower others to construct and to communicate meaning?” the purpose of our study was to explore the pedagogic potentials of multimodal literacy (Walsh, 2009) by exploring how we use and learn through visual literacy. We sought to extend our line of inquiry and to more inclusively empower learners to negotiate and to make meaning through multimodal literacy practices (Eisner 1998; Langer, 2011).

This chapter first describes the context of our work as a significant socio-ecological context for study. Drawing from our individual disciplines as diverse academic cultures, we collaboratively constructed a subculture, formed through our shared experiences with self-study research nested within a workplace culture of teacher education. Next, this chapter details how we individually read and examined our online courses using a Visual Thinking Strategies (Yenawine, 2013) framework. Acting as critical friends (Costa & Kallick, 1993; Olan & Edge, 2018), we then utilized a collaborative conference protocol (Bergh, Edge, & Cameron-Standerford, 2018) to make cross-cultural meaning about multimodal literacy practices in our online courses. Findings across our courses illuminated (1) additional, often overlooked, access or “entry points” into learning; (2) the generative power of transmediation—the act of translating meanings from one sign system to another (Siegel, 1995) in the online environment provided an opportunity to reframe understanding and to make meaning; (3) tensions and shifts in the dynamics of ownership of knowledge. Seeing these three facets in each of our individual self-studies, through the lens of one another’s diverse academic cultures, bolstered our ability to re-see our practice and to continue to develop broadened and deeper understandings of our teaching and student learning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Universal Design for Learning: A teaching approach that provides a mechanism to use multiple modalities (e.g., auditory, visual, tactile, olfactory, taste, proprioceptive awareness) to represent information for content and skills acquisition to support learning and assessment for diverse learners.

Andragogy: A scholarly approach to adult learning promoted as a theory of adult education. Andragogy includes five guiding principles: (1) self-concept, (2) adult learner experience, (3) readiness to learn, (4) orientation to learning, and (5) motivation to learn.

Differentiated Instruction: An instructional strategy that recognizes students’ various languages, preferences for learning, cultural backgrounds, readiness and interests to maximize each student’s potential for learning.

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