How to use a Multimodal Learning Site

'Multimodal' has become a popular concept in education – almost to the point of becoming a buzzword.  It has also become synonymous with the use of digital technology. But don't let the veneer of modern use fool you: multimodal teaching has long been viewed as effective pedagogy.


In fact, researchers have been praising multimodal teaching for some time. If you enjoy academic literature, check out Sankey (2010) as an example. If not, know that researchers have found that multimodal practice engages our students and provides them with multiple opportunities to explore a concept.

In a digital classroom, a great way to capitalise on the benefits of multimodal teaching is by using a multimodal site. These could be made to support a unit of study, inquiry or even a few weeks reading programme. For example, I made this site to support my students while we were studying cells in science, and this site to support a reading group explore science fiction. While they do take a little time when you first start making them, they can be easily reused and pay off in the long run.

When talking to other teachers about multimodal sites, I often get asked how they would be facilitated in the physical classroom. First, I'd like to point out that there is still a need for direct teaching when using a multimodal site. I still introduce the learning concepts to my students before they visit a site and I roam the class and converse with my learners while they are using it. To get more of an idea of the direct teaching that might accompany the use of a site, check out the video below:


Another question I get asked is about the students' ability to navigate the site. How will they know what text to select? How will they demonstrate their learning? In response to this, I filmed a video to illustrate how I first introduce a multimodal site and how my learners navigate it. It is important to note that I always give them a quick explanation of the site and any activities that I would like them to complete. Due to the complexity of the content of this site, I also made note of which texts were more challenging than others.

                                       

I hope this supports you to develop and use your own multimodal site in the future! You are very welcome to use my sites if they are relevant and to explore my other class onAir videos for further examples of digital teaching.


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