“Understanding and Creating Digital Texts” (Part 2 of 2)

We were assigned to read only chapters 7 & 8 (pages 135-190) for our class.  Chapter 8 is the focus of this post.


While the previous chapter was about the co-construction of collaboration, chapter 8 focused on the 3 multimodal components: video, audio, and images. The three are so interwoven that they can’t be discussed separately. (163) I disagree, because I think they are quite unique and that one can easily be used without the other two. Because texts are multimodal, we now show versus tell which is why we must focus on design. (163)

IMAGES: With pictures you have to be careful of copyright and usage rights. A main way to create pics is by using a smartphone, Instagram, or for comments on images, the authors suggest VoiceThread, Marqueed, ThingLink, Glogster, and Haiku Deck. (167-9) Other images possible are comics.

AUDIO: Don’t assume focus on audio detracts from writing, rather it lets students focus on the “sound” of their language. (173) Audio provides a way to use voice “more consciously and deliberately.” (174) There is a radio program collection of over 18,000 student audio essays which help explain audio production. The authors then mention podcasts. First step in making a podcast is simply to listen to them. Podcasts have allowed students to listen to lectures by instructors across the world, such as with iTunes U, EdReach, and TeacherCast. Also, while recording a podcast can be as easy as using your own smartphone, the question arises as to how to store these (often huge) MP3 files. The authors suggest using GoogleDocs, Hipcast, Libsyn, and PodBean. They also give helpful steps in how to use both Garage Band (for Macs) and Audacity. (175) The final step is transforming the audio into a podcast either on iTunes or their blog so their audience can subscribe. This is possible by creating an RSS feed using FeedBurner or Podomatic.

VIDEO: Video has transformed classrooms by making learning more engaging. (176) The biggest site for accessing online videos is certainly YouTube but there is also MediaCore for storing and organizing videos. A big point in this section is the idea of the “flipped classroom” where videos let students and teachers create videos to equally communicate ideas so the discussion is two-way, not just mere passive for the students. (176) Annotation (with sites like VideoAnt) is a huge component of student interaction because response is fostered. (177) Keeping the focus on the writing, a concept I am all for, the script should be carefully planned. (178) Sites that help do this are ScriptWrite, Storyist, and Storyboards. Students don’t have to shoot their own footage, instead they can import from any sources. Besides the script, you should write for your intended audience. (180) Define your purpose. What rhetoric are you thinking? How will that play out in your video? All good questions one must ask. The main challenges with video are lacking confidence, feeling insufficiently creative or artistic, and having insufficient technical training on the equipment.

MULTIMODAL PRODUCTIONS: Multimodal productions include all three components and serve to give purpose and inclusion to students who otherwise would feel unengaged. (185) Two main ways this is achieved is through poetry (my favorite medium) and storytelling (my filmmaker boyfriend’s favorite medium). First, for storytelling, multimedia can help create a rich way of showing a character’s transformation by “creating a story map for use in creating a storyboard or script for a digital video production” using Storybuilder, Storyboard Generator, Storybird, Storyspace, Book Creator, or the free iOs Adobe Voice app for iPad. (186) Secondly, for poetry, many sites exist to bring multimedia to poetry which is quite rich with possibilities. Sites best used for accentuating poems are PowerPoetry, the Electronic Literature Association collection, PBS Poetry Everywhere, Moving Poems videos, or the app that impressed me most, Away With Words, which attaches words to images by free-association. (187) Texts can also be a remix or snippets of many sources, which are “supercuts.” (188) In short, as with any tools, using the trifecta of multimodalities (video, images, audio) asks us to draw on popular culture as well as canonical texts (the book refers to Moby Dick for example) to be able to fully engage the intended audience.

Beach, Richard, et al. Understanding and Creating Digital Texts: An Activity-based Approach. London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014. 163-90. Print.


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