Multimodal Writing

Again, as mentioned before, I have had problems with the concept of multimodal writing. This is another aspect the Writing Center and English departments are encouraging in papers. Since I am such a purist, I have been really struggling in supporting this idea.

Multimodal writing is including other modes of media aside from the written word in a writer’s piece. For example, when last quarter and the quarter before you, dear readers, got to see my frustration with needing to create movies for my essays in English 101 and 102. I still wrote an author’s note, which served as my essay, but had to create a movie to accompany it. Other things that are included are drawings, clip art, inserting music into the file, GIFs, and so on.

The idea is that it makes the content more interactive and thus gives the audience a better understanding of the message or ideas of the paper.

I have been against this since I heard about it. After all, the art of writing is the ability to convey yourself through words articulately. If you don’t attract non-readers, then so be it. Some people enjoy reading, some people don’t. The writer is catering to those that seek the written word for education or entertainment.

I have been seeing the use of multimodal writing in what I consider the worst interpretation of the form: List articles accented by GIFs. These are articles – which I have seen published by multitudes of reputable sites – that have an introduction to the topic, but immediately go into a list, with each bullet point a couple of words, and the explanation of said bullet point is a GIF, and no more. This is lazy writing, and I feel it contributes to the demolition of the art of the written word.

However, my prejudice being voiced, I had a eureka moment. It came while I was considering my French text book, and the drawings in it in which things were labeled. There are columns for extra tid-bits of information, and a website where audio can be played for the pronunciation of words, demonstration of the use of words and idiomatic expressions, and even a little movie broken up into small “episodes” which accompany each chapter.

My French book/courFullSizeRenderse is the epitome of multimodal writing.

I tried to argue with myself that my French course is a language course – of course students need photos – and hearing and seeing how everything is applied only enhances the learning and ensures that the concepts of the language are rooted into the brains.

Now…..what on earth is writing? It’s the communication of ideas and concepts. Using….? Language. Writing is just like a course in another language – trying to communicate something that an audience doesn’t know in attempts to help them understand it better.

With this in mind, I finally understand the application and encouragement of multimodal writing. I haven’t had a session with any students since this lightning strike to the brain, but hopefully I can help it to be applicable and can carry on with this encouragement.

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