Multiliteracies Performance Assessment Zones (MPAZ): A New Tool to Explore Multimodal Interactions for Virtual Learning

Multiliteracies Performance Assessment Zones (MPAZ): A New Tool to Explore Multimodal Interactions for Virtual Learning

Stefania Savva (Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 34
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5912-2.ch008
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Recognition of the dramatically changing nature of what it means to be literate in the so-called “information age” has resulted in an increasing interest among the educational research community around the importance of students developing “multiliteracy” skills and engaging in multimodal learning. Nevertheless, for such learning to be meaningful, requires to reconceptualize delivery strategies and assessment of multimodally mediated experiences. The aim of this chapter is dual: First to introduce an alternative framework for formative assessment of multimodal interactions for learning. Secondly, the intention is to uncover the story of culturally and linguistically diverse students' multimodal experiences, resulting from engagement in the creation of a student-generated virtual museum during a design-based research implementation. Drawing from the literature, analysis, and evaluation using the framework explained, it is evident that virtual museum-based multiliteracies engagement, benefits pupils' multimodal awareness, meaning making, and development as active designers of their learning.
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Multimodal Literacy in Education

Teaching and learning in the 21st century have been characterized by a constant process of change. It is undeniable that the new millennium has introduced new tools for communication and it is the educators’ responsibility to determine the value of these tools and how the curricula is affected. It is critical to question, therefore, what kind of pedagogies are appropriate for the 21st century (Scott, 2015) and how much traditional approaches appeal to today’s learner. What do we need to change and how feasible is it? It is within this evolving context of learning that educators need to expand their pedagogical repertoires to nurture 21st century competencies and skills (Saavedra & Opfer, 2012; Scott, 2015; Smith & Hu, 2013). McCoog (2008) in addressing this issue, suggests that educators have a new charge: teaching the new three r’s - “rigor” “relevance” and “real world skills”.

It becomes apparent that the learning demands and needs of students are challenged in an increasingly digitally-mediated reality (Fleming, 2005, p. 114). In this context, a traditional view of literacy as reading and writing skills (Fleming, 2005, p. 114), becomes obsolete. The nature of literacy pedagogy, research and practice has shifted to embrace the idea of literacy as more of a plurality, discussing about various ‘literacies’ (Liddicoat, 2007, p. 15). This reshaped notion of literacy is aligned with “the exponential growth and adoption of new media and information and communication technologies (ICTs)” (Day & Lau, 2010, p. 111). The latter involve not only spoken and written words, but also images and symbols of all kinds, sounds and music, bodily gestures and movement (all kinds of semiotic resources), and physical and virtual objects. This conceptualization in literacy terms, is defined as multimodal literacies (Jewitt & Kress, 2003; Kress, 2003, 2010; Walsh, 2009). The term refers to the proliferation of multimodal texts and the significance of all the semiotic resources and modalities in meaning making. Human beings communicate not only in linguistic modes, but also visual, spatial, gestural, and audio. Multimodal literacy or literacies acknowledges that all these systems equally contribute to meaning making rather than be ancillary to language. Kress (1999) argues that language “is necessarily a temporally, sequentially organized mode... the visual by contrast is a spatially and simultaneously organized mode” (p. 79). Norris (2004) observes that “[a]ll movements, all noises, and all material objects carry interactional meanings as soon as they are perceived by a person” (p. 2). In this sense, all interaction is multimodal, including teaching and learning. As O’Toole (1994) observes, “we ‘read’ people in everyday life: facial features and expression, stance, gesture, typical actions and clothing” (p. 15). Hence, there is a need to understand how the lesson experience is constructed by exploring the functional affordances and constraints of these semiotic resources and modalities as well as how they are co-deployed in the orchestration of the lesson which may lead to more effective teaching and learning in the classroom (Lim, O’ Halloran, & Podlasov, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Multiliteracies: The concept of “multiliteracies” refers to a broad and inclusive model of literacy that accounts for the complex and rapidly changing modes of meaning making within our diverse society.

Virtual Museums: The term virtual museum broadly speaking, refers to a collection of digital objects in a coherent and logic order, following taxonomy and it can include variant media. Due to the nature of the virtual environment, it can be easily accessible and remotely connect people, regardless of place and space.

Learning by Design Model (LbD): The pedagogy of learning by design represents an inclusive approach to learner diversity, adhering to an understanding that not every learner will bring the same lifeworld experiences and interests to learning; therefore, it is not assumed that every learner has to be on the same page at the same time.

Multimodality: Multimodality has a twofold meaning: first it refers to the way in which a text has been designed, and second, it refers to the process involved during design. The intention is to tackle the deeper process of transition between written, oral, visual, audio, tactile, gestural and spatial modes, when a learner tries to make meaning from a particular text.

Multiliteracies Performance Assessment Zones (MPAZ): A formative assessment tool for exploring multimodal interactions for learning, incorporating understanding of knowledge processes and the learning by design criteria of demonstration of experiential knowledge, conceptual knowledge, analytical knowledge, and applied knowledge. These dimensions are evaluated based on autonomous, assisted, and collaborative levels of performance exhibited by students.

Museum Multiliteracies Practice (MMP) Framework: The conceptual backdrop for this research draws from the field of new literacy studies, where different pedagogies and theories overlap to form the proposed framework: multiliteracies pedagogy of the New London Group, the learning by design model adapted from Cope and Kalantzis and Schwartz’s museum-based pedagogy, inform a multiliteracies-driven approach to teaching and learning practice.

Multimodal Literacies: The term refers to the proliferation of multimodal texts and the significance of all the semiotic resources and modalities in meaning making. Incorporated in the concept, is the acknowledgement that we communicate not only in linguistic modes, but also through visual, spatial, gestural, and audio.

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