Learning Tech 5 (English Introduction)

The theme of Learning Tech 5 is multimodality in didactics and the classroom and the three articles in this issue i.a. grasp multimodal reading practices, multimodal design and multimodality as a didactic category.


By Stig Toke Gissel

The way forward for multimodality

In this issue of Learning Tech, we focus on multimodality. Theories of multimodality have in recent years been widely applied and discussed among researchers around the world. Not least in relation to the analysis and development of didactic designs, the theories have shown their value. Therefore, the time is ripe to take stock, look ahead – and to the side.

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In the first article of the issue, Anne Mette Thorhauge addresses the highly topical concept of ‘digital education’. According to Thorhauge, the concept is too broad and moreover mistranslated from the English ‘digital literacy’, so it makes more sense to have ‘digital literacy’ as a means and ‘digital citizenship’ as a goal. In order for literacy to work for digital citizenship, a redefinition of what we understand by reading and writing is required, and that we respond to what communicative skills in general must enable citizenship and participation as well. In order for us to answer what skills and competencies the school should impart to the students, we need to understand what types of symbolic communities, identities, and forms of participation the skills and competencies should ideally support. ‘New literacy studies’ and ‘multimodal reading practices’ are presented as concrete suggestions on what digital communicative skills are needed in today’s digital society.

In our call, we call for suggestions on how the theory of multimodality can be inoculated with other traditions, e.g. a concept of learning and progression as well as considerations about the implementation or application of the multimodal in learning materials and in didactic designs. Henrik Kasch participates in his article in a theory-driven design for inclusive language learning, where didactic theory and digital technology are combined in the design of a concrete learning material. Theoretically, Kaschs’ errand is a cross-fertilization of the two theoretical directions Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). The design is tested in a thought-provoking pilot study, which is reported in the article.

In his contribution, Thomas Illum Hansen goes into theory and concept development mode and presents in the article innovative and central clarifications and extensions of the theories about the multimodal. Based on a critical study of the concept of multimodality and close readings by some of the central multimodality theorists, the article connects to didactic theory. The intention is, Hansen writes, “a mutual fertilization of two traditions, the social semiotic and the phenomenological, with a view to developing a more concrete technical language about multimodality that can be used for didactic analysis”. The analytical grips are used in an example analysis.

Stig Toke Gissel
Editor-in-Chief of Learning Tech

Based on the phenomenological anchoring of multimodality theory, we can ask a number of critical questions about the perception of multimodality, which opens up new perspectives on the relationship between forms of representation. This applies to both confusions, e.g. of the multimedia and the multimodal, and clarification of the cognitive interplay between forms of representation.

From Multimodality as a didactic category