According to Takayoshi and Selfe (2007), a multimodal text is one that "exceed the alphabetical and may include still and moving images, animators, color, words, music, and sound” (p.1). Multimodal texts can be digital or non-digital. Examples of a digital multimodal text include websites, podcasts (with supplemental materials), infographics, or video. Non-digital multimodal texts include collages, print magazines, or research posters.
Asking students to produce a multimodal text (digital or non-digital) provides them with an opportunity to compose using a variety of tools, extend their digital literacy skills, embrace diversity and explore what it means to create for a specific audience.
Multimodal projects can easily be adapted for all disciplines and integrating into a variety of curricula. To do so, an instructor might take the following steps:
Determine what goal(s) a multimodal assignment would help them reach (e.g., targeting an academic audience, practice data visualization skills, remediate existing print-based texts into digital ones, etc.)
Consider the amount of time needed to prepare the students for the assignment, the type of skills they need to draw on, and the resources that are necessary to complete the project.
Develop an assignment sheet that explicitly states the goals and expectations for the assignment including whether the final multimodal text will be digital or non-digital, public-facing or private. See a sample Multimodal Assignment (with rubric) here.
Formulate a rubric that assesses discipline-specific content requirements (e.g., demonstrating understanding of how to conduct archival research or illustrating the results of an experiment) as well as design/multimodality. For help adding multimodal components to a rubric, visit the "Digital Writing Assessment and Evaluation" link here.
Technologies to Consider for Digital Multimodal Text Production
Website creator (Wix, Weebly, Google Sites, Wordpress)
Recording device (smart phone, recorder)
Audio editor (Audacity)
Video editor (iMovie, Windows MovieMaker)
Open access images
Open access music
Technologies to Consider for Non- Digital Multimodal Text Production
Printer for large scale projects (e.g., research poster)
Open access images
Digital Design Studio
Digital Design Studio Consultations
"Thinking about Multimodality" by Pamela Takayoshi and Cynthia Selfe
"Multimodality in the Science Classroom: A Focus on Multimedia Representation and How Students Learn" by Natalia Suflita