The Future of Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

A Multimodal Framework for Teaching and Learning – Case Study of a Japanese University Classroom Context

Jeffrey Mok, National University of Singapore (Singapore)


In this information and consumer age, social and business exchanges have become visibly multimodal. Socially, we not only communicate using multiple platforms but we co-participate. Businesses engage customers multi-modally in order to cater and customise products and services to meet individual preferences. Faced with this multimodality in everyday life, how do our classrooms compare when attending to our students living in the age of consumerism? How do teachers respond and facilitate learning to meet the demands of today's digital age? This paper presents a multimodal teaching and learning framework for the classroom. Taking the cue from multi-modality in communication, this paper extends the notion of multimodal learning beyond multimodal text and expands the notions of multi-literacy into a pedagogical approach. The paper contends that unless our classroom teaching embraces an overtly multimodal learning approach, we risk disconnecting with and disadvantaging our students.

The main research question is: how do teachers and students engage the various modes and mediums to share and make meaning in the classroom. Using an ethnographic study of 24 cases of classroom sessions in a Japanese university, this paper will demonstrate, from the findings, a typology of informational representations for a framework of multimodal teaching and learning.  Specific examples on what and how both teachers and students use to communicate and make meaning will be presented. The research methods include observations, repeated video viewing, audio recordings, interviews and examinations of artefacts. Analysis of data was done using grounded theory methods for observation, video and interview data and conversational analysis for classroom audio data.

This study will reveal that there are major categories for the image, text, and audio mediums with further three to five sub-groups. The paper will also show that there is a variety of verbal and nonverbal modes with a clear pattern of primary and subordinating modal relationships as well as intentionality. The findings also include the range of social-cultural artefacts and technological platforms that the old and new media affords. It will also illustrate how the variety of modes that make meaning and the range of artefacts that represent information function in both space and time continuums. The discussion covers key areas of classroom learning: teaching, student activity, practice and feedback. The paper concludes with practical examples on how the framework can be used in the classroom to facilitate learning in this information and consumer age.

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