Monday, 11 March 2013

A6: Tensions and contradictions when creating a multimodal text in language education

Anna-Lena Godhe

Education in general and language education in particular has historically been associated with the ability to use written and spoken language to acquire, as well as display, knowledge. With the introduction of tools such as computers it is nowadays possible to create texts which entail different ways of expression, for example images and sound. This may challenge what the activity of creating texts in a classroom means.

In this paper, actions and activities in a language classroom where ICT is used to create multimodal texts, is placed in a broader context where the actions and activities carried out in the classroom are discussed relating to the history and established practices in this setting. To create multimodal texts is not a common practice in language education. Rather, it is an emerging practice which is developing, and which has to relate to practices with a long history in this sociocultural setting.

The activity system (cf Engestrom, 1987) of writing texts in language education is explored focusing on tensions and contradictions between components at the local and systemic level which appear to arise when tools as well as the outcome of the activity are altered or expanded. Tensions relating to the history of the subject of Swedish are mirrored in the curriculum as it focuses on the ability to read and write typographical text at the upper-secondary school level. When assessing multimodal texts the assessment mainly concerns written or spoken language and thereby other modes of expressions are largely overlooked. The tensions between different components in the activity system thus appear to reflect larger contradictions concerning the concept of literacy.

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