Digital and multimodal texts
The English K-10 Syllabus has mandated that in each year, students must study examples of media, multimedia and digital texts which are appropriate to their needs, interests and abilities, examples which become increasingly sophisticated as students move from Kindergarten to Year 6.
Work through the pages to gain confidence in programming a short series of lessons for your class incorporating digital and multimodal texts.
Digital texts – audio, visual or multimodal texts produced through digital or electronic technology which may be interactive and include animations and/or hyperlinks. Examples of digital texts include movies, websites, e-books and apps.
Multimodal texts – A multimodal text uses a combination of two or more communication modes, for example, print, image and spoken text as in film or computer presentations.
Engaging with digital and multimodal texts
Every day we encounter multimodal texts and digital texts in many forms. Understanding how the visuals and written text work together to create meaning allows the viewer to make decisions and respond to the text appropriately.
Comparing digital and multimodal texts
Watch and consider the elements of 'Get your hand off it' (30 seconds)
This digital text, composed by Transport for New South Wales, partners with the Sydney Swans to help raise awareness of the dangers of drivers illegally using a mobile phone. The partnership uses the power of sport to build awareness and promote safe driving behaviour.
Elements of the digital clip:
- speed – fast-paced advertisement, quick between frames
- colours – significance of red?
- content – up to date, engaging (Snapchat, texting), who is the target audience?
- duration – clip is short because it is made for television, where thirty seconds is considered a large amount of time to convey a message or idea.
As a viewer ,it is important that students understand they have control over interpreting and viewing the message, the same as they do when reading a piece of text.
View the I'm counting on you Transport for NSW child car seat poster. Think about the type of English conversations that could be scaffolded around this text, using the summary below as a guide:
- eye contact – young child is offering his gaze, making personal contact with the viewer
- use of colour – numbers and information are bright and colourful
- factual language – website is provided as a legal imperative to the emotional message
- audience – parent (‘make sure your child’). The three information points are simple and easy to read for busy parents.
- persuasive language – use of possessive pronouns indicates ownership and places responsibility on the reader/viewer
- symbols – salient image of a child smiling in car seat represents care, safety and parental responsibility.
- colours – use of bright colours for the key messages. The use of white for information.
How a reader reads and navigates texts
Reading and viewing
How does a reader read and navigate digital and multimodal texts?
- reading is linear in nature
- reader has control over how much is read
- reader must follow the linear structure to get meaning
- choice to keep reading or put down
Visual text: – poster, picture book:
- meaning is made by interpretation of visuals and written text
- not necessarily linear in nature
- different reading paths.
- reader/viewer has a choice as to where they focus their attention on image or written text.
Website or ebook:
- reader or viewer needs to be competent in skimming and scanning. Text often in pieces or snippets
- not necessarily linear in nature.– autonomous navigation
- reader or viewer has the choice and responsibility to navigate to the correct page.
- sound can be an option or standard
- reader or viewer may have to process information from three modes
- video clip linear in nature, although it may be cut into shorter clips and jump between scenes
- viewer needs to understand conventions and techniques that show progression of time and place
- viewer has choice to stop and start and replay when appropriate.
Think about materials that you use in the classroom which incorporate digital and multimodal texts and look at the relevant outcomes and content in the context of your everyday teaching.
Explore – multimodal text
Look at a page in a picture book to discover how the visuals work with the text to create depth in the story. Examine how the following affects a reader’s understanding:
- salient images
- framing of images
- camera angles
- character's gaze
Explore – digital text
Look at a webpage to discover how the visuals work with the text to create depth and understanding. Examine how the following affects a reader’s understanding:
- image placement
- size of text
Opportunities to use digital and multimodal texts
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Identifying the specific content that encourages the use of digital and multimodal texts.
Access the English K-10 Syllabus and choose the outcome/s relevant to your students. Identify the specific content that encourages the use of digital and multimodal texts. Compare your findings with the content points identified on this page.
- What areas of digital and multimodal learning do you already cover in your classroom?
- Which aspects of digital and multimodal learning are new to you? How will you deal with this?
- What will you need (for example resources, professional development, support) in order to appropriately implement the digital and multimodal learning aspects of the English K-10 Syllabus?
Reflect on your knowledge of digital and visual literacy and begin planning for teaching digital and multimodal texts. Start by reading 4 scenarios on the next page.
Use these Scenarios to reflect on your knowledge of digital and visual literacy to begin planning for teaching digital and multimodal texts.
I have a Stage 2 class that have had a lot of exposure to picture books in Stage 1 as modelled and independent reads. However, they do not have a good understanding of the visual images in texts. I will be working with my students on understanding the choices illustrators make, such as where they place certain elements in images and how framing and perspective influence the reader’s view of an image.
I have also noticed that my students have indicated they are having trouble finding information on a website. They click on things in random ways, but they do not have the right metalanguage to talk about what they are doing. They do not seem to use words such as navigate, hyperlink, cursor or menu. Using the right metalanguage means that everyone understands what is being spoken.
I cannot wait to start working with my students and introducing new and exciting digital and multimodal texts.
This year I teach a Stage 1 class. They come from very different backgrounds, some of them have English as an additional language. I need to model using the right language when talking about texts even if they may not be able to use all the words.
I want them to start to understand what new words such as background, foreground, eye line and lighting mean so I will use them when I am talking about images in texts. We will start off with simple images from familiar texts and as they get used to hearing these new words, in a familiar context,
I will move onto unknown texts and continue to use this new metalanguage to talk about features of texts. Not all my students have computers at home, so I must start off simple with our digital language. There will be lots of labelling activities to begin with and lots of modelling.
I am the teacher-librarian, and I am working with a Stage 3 teacher. Next term we will be starting a unit of work looking at the images in a digital text. We will be looking at websites and eBooks.
At the moment, the Stage 3 students have a pretty good understanding of the language such as framing, salience, composition and symbolism. They can accurately answer direct questions using these terms, but unfortunately when they are talking in their small groups, they tend to use more basic conversational language.
For example, instead of describing a child being framed by the branches, as if he is in a jail and cannot escape, they will say he is in a dark forest and there are lots of trees around him.
Using the right language and the right context is a more difficult skill than just understanding it. Having control over their vocabulary will enable students to really work on their self-expression which is an important part of the syllabus
I work in a small primary school. Recently we were discussing how best to support our use of digital and multimodal texts in the classrooms.
Our library, even though it is small has a good range of picture books for our younger students but not many for our Stage 2 and 3 students. We will investigate purchasing texts for our older students. We feel confident that with these resources we will be able to bring rich discussions into our classrooms on the role of images and text in literature.
In the area of digital texts, there is so much available that it takes a lot of time to find the right resources for our students. Before we begin a unit, three of our staff are getting some extra RFF to work together to locate some quality digital online resources in the form of websites, eBook and clips to use with their students.
This type of teacher collaboration will be essential in developing quality units of work.
Features and language in digital and multimodal texts include some reflection ideas after reading about digital and multimodal texts.
Use these questions to reflect on what you have just read.
Features and language in digital and multimodal texts
1. What are some of the specific features of digital and multimodal texts which you would need to explicitly teach your students?
- Multimodal (print-based) – for example
- prior experiences
- visual literacy
- Digital (web-based)
- Digital (eBook)
- Digital (film-based)
2. What syllabus content do you think is the most important for your students to experience first? Where would you head later and why?
3. What specific vocabulary would you expect your students to understand when interacting with digital and multimodal texts?
4. What specific vocabulary would you expect your students to confidently use when interacting with and responding to digital and multimodal texts?
5. What resources or support would you need to effectively implement the teaching of digital and multimodal texts with your class?
6. Construct a word bank of vocabulary you would expect your students to demonstrate a sound understanding of at their level.
Using the English K-10 Syllabus you could now program a short series of lessons for your class incorporating digital and multimodal texts.
All syllabus references are from English K-10 Syllabus © 2012 NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales.