Chapter 4 – Multi-Modal Instruction and Composition

“Applying The Multimodality Theory in eLearning” by Christopher Pappas, Composition and Culture, Docebo is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Multimodality in the writing classroom refers to the use of different modes, such as written, oral, non-verbal, and visual, to communicate and persuade. Lutkewitte (2014) refers to multimodal composition as composition using multiple modes that work purposely to create meaning.

Students in our class work on assignments that draw on multiple modes that might include words, images, graphics, animation, sounds, or video. They have opportunities to process information through listening, speaking, reading, writing, and visual representation as well as opportunities to showcase knowledge through oral presentations and videos. They analyze and make arguments through text, images, and video; they work on using presentation media effectively; and they participate in class discussions both orally and online.

Through remediation, students transform material that is in one genre or mode to another. They enhance their rhetorical skills and reflect on the process of creating and conveying ideas by preserving the intent of the original material, while adapting it to the requirements of the new form. By exposing students to the different ways and forms in which information and ideas can be communicated, our class builds on the language, visual and oral skills, and multicultural backgrounds of the students and of the various complex rhetorical ideas we are exploring together.

Take a look at this learning module on crafting strong visual presentations made by the writing department at Boston University.

Now have a look at these two visual presentations created by MHCC students.

The first was presented by a student in a WR 122 class. The assignment was to use what we were learning in the class about critical and creative thinking  as a template for analyzing the arguments in the film 12 Angry Men. 

Click here to view 12 Angry Men visual presentation.

The second was from a student in an ENG 250 class who was tasked with researching and developing a presentation on a myth or mythological tradition that was meaningful to them, that they wished to know more about, and to share with others:


Multi-modal instruction and composition offer us the opportunity to engage ideas across multiple formats and bring them together into meaningful, engaging collaborative “conversations” in our assignments. Students are not restricted to the standard five paragraph essay, but instead are free to roam across a variety of formats in search of engaging, relevant, thought-provoking materials with which to support and develop their own ideas and perspectives in the course. This OER textbook is, itself, and example of this multi-tiered approach.

As we continue through the course, pay attention to the various modes of communication used to convey ideas and explore concepts. Often, the medium is an essential part of the message. Also, think about your own assignments and major essays in the class and see if you would like to use multi-modal composition to compose one or more of your essays. If this kind of “essay” seems appealing to you, talk to your instructor and the tutors about the best ways to create a multimodal essay. In a Blackboard course, using the pretty straightforward Kaltura Video editor is likely your best option.


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Composition in Cultural Contexts Copyright © 2021 by Andy Gurevich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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