Multimodality is a learning theory which looks at how people can connect beyond writing, but also through speaking, visual forms, gesture, etc… This site will help you facilitate disciplinary learning experiences of your course into multimodal formats to help promote digital literacy and production.  With a focus on digital media, multimodal projects featured here include video, podcasts, posters, animations and other emerging digital media forms.

Questions to Consider

  • How might a multimodal assignment link to relevant course outcomes and learning goals of the course?
  • How can this multimodal assignment enhance your disciplinary methods, and how might it develop program outcomes?
  • Would this kind of project make sense for what you want students to learn in your course?
  • What component of your course is best suited for a multimodal assignment?

Some simple tips to help you get started:

  • Set parameters for students to be creative within; creativity works best within boundaries
  • Be mindful of time and resource constraints of your students and perhaps have them identify prior knowledge they bring
  • Ensure students know the audience they are addressing for their multimodal project, as it may not be the professor
  • Consider a presentation for class (in class, group, online circulation, etc.) as a way to both knowledge-share and showcase their work
  • Multimodal projects can also be a great format for peer review
  • Give students voice by including assessment towards reflection, explanation of process, and explanation of their decisions in a written component, more details in the next tab

In order to help students succeed in creating multimodal projects, consider scaffolding the delivery of your multimodal curriculum throughout the term. Scaffolding is thought of as a set of learning practices or chunks that provide the structure to build knowledge and enhance learning processes.

For example, the following is a sample of scaffolded curriculum for a multimodal video project that would showcase the learning of a community engaged experience in UBC course INFO 250 "Networks, Crowds and Communities" course instructed by Dr. Richard Arias-Hernandez.  It was broken into the following chunks;

  • Step 1:  Developing an Archive
    In multimodal projects, developing an archive can become useful tool for students to start to arrange their content. The archive can be; a compilation of texts, brainstorms, personal accounts, reports, images, videos, drafts, sketches, etc., and can provide insights into how the project process unfolded. Collecting exploratory records can offer space for reflection and inform students on the nature of how their partnership and project developed.  The collected artifacts can become a material facilitation for both students and teachers to understand the challenges and successes of their learning, and how they happened. The following CBEL Process Archive Handout to motivate and guide students to create their own archive.
  • Step 2:  Who is your Audience
    Identifying the purpose and target audience of a multimodal work is an important element for students to make informed decisions.  You can build the following Audience and Video Workshop into your class.
  • Step 3:  Finding a Story and Thinking of Telling a Story
    In order for students to gain awareness of how all elements of an image play a part in conveying messages and influencing meaning. This step can help students to think about how every element, picture, sound, color, texture, they are choosing to be part of the multimodal assignment, and how it communicates to the audience they identified in the previous step.Ask students be attentive of how pictures tell stories, and the responsibility of one who takes or designs a picture to influence a particular meaning. Students are encouraged to consider a particular target audience as a way to experiment and approach decisions in their creation process. The following worksheet on How to Find a Story with accompanying Marking Sheet was created for an in-class activity.
  • Step 4:  Creating and Reflecting on your Multimodal Project
    Prior and post to executing the multimodal project students should be given the opportunity to reflect and think about their assignment. Curriculum related to Dr. Arias-Hernandez available here for a Final Video Report of their project.  A video project from the class can be seen here.

Best practice for multimodal projects is to ask for an accompanying written statement that reveals the process and decisions the student made when making the project and an overall summary of its aims.  The written analysis should ultimately include what you need in order to effectively assess the project.  For example, you may want to relate their experience and decisions of making the work to specific assignment objectives or course learning outcomes.

You may want to consider asking for:

  • basic information such as: the medium/format, the objective or intentions of the work, the length or dimensions, techniques used, the audience the work is meant for, etc.
  • a statement on the specific topic or thesis explored, and discuss how the media format was used in a way that addressed specific aspects of the content
  • a contextualization of the project that asks the student to describe why they made certain creative decisions
  • direct connections to specific course materials or content that you want them to analyze why they used them in certain ways or methods
  • a reflection on their process, skills they gained, areas of improvement or challenges as well as things that they are most proud about

Dr. Silvia Bartolic, Associate Professor of Teaching in Sociology, requires two written responses for her FMST 314 "Relationship Development" course which contains a multimodal project.  She has shared them here.

Before students start the multimodal project, she asks:
1.      Who is your audience? Why did you choose this audience? How would you target this audience?
2.      What multimodal (media) method have you chosen to use to present your work? Why did you choose this method?
3.      How will this method help communicate your message to the audience?
4.      How have you narrowed your topic?  What are the key elements you wish to present?  Why is this important?

End of project reflection guiding questions:
1.      Have any of the decisions you made at the start of your project shift?  In what ways?  Why/why not?
2.      What design and layout (if applicable) decisions have you made? Why did you choose these?
3.      How do these decisions (and the ones made at the start of your project) affect the message you are trying to convey? Fit with your target audience?
4.      How was this process (using a multimodal (media)) format different from writing a paper?
5.      What were the challenges of working in this way?
6.      Did you/how did you learn differently or think about the content differently when working in this multimodal way?
7.      What were the benefits of creating a multimodal project? (for communicating the message; for your learning; etc.)
8.      Given the choice, would you do this again? Did you learn new skills? Are you going to use the skills gained in the future?