Tag Archive : Multimodality

A Living Room Talk : Discovering Multimodality

This podcast is part of a series of different elements, which all focus on discovering the concept of multimodality. This contains multiple blog posts discussing different aspects of it as well as this podcast tying all of this together in verbal form. If you want to discover more about multimodality, just press play :

To access the other elements of the series, click on the buttons bellow:

References :

Teaching & Multimodality

This blogpost is part of a series of different elements in regards to the concept of multimodality. This contains multiple blog posts discussing different aspects of this concept as well as a podcast tying all of this together in verbal form. To access the other elements of the series, click on the buttons bellow:

Multimodality is defined as the use of multiple modes in one products (Jewitt, 2008). In other words, Multimodality occurs when different literacies are used in order to make meaning of something (Kress, 2011). In order to learn more about this concept and its history, you are invited you to visit the blogposts of the other members of this project. The advent of digital culture increased and diversified the use of different modes in our daily ways to communicate. Indeed, with digital platforms, multimodal literacies became accessible to everyone. Additionally, new technologies provided to people facilities to read and write in combination with other complex aspects such as music, sounds, graphics, images or videos (Walsh, 2010, p.211). As Cope and Kalantzis (2000) maintain, literacy learning and teaching should change as the world is changing. However, Leeuwen (2015) explains that schools belong to a more formal and less multimodal era (p.583). Indeed, most of education testing requirements in primary and secondary schools are still based on printed texts. Nowadays, multimodal literacies are essential for communication. Therefore, it is important to consider them in school in order to prepare student to use them (Walsh, 2010, p.211).

            In this blogpost, the importance of multimodality in education is approached. Through different examples, it looks at why and how multimodality can be teach and learned in schools.

            As mentioned previously, multimodal literacies became essential for contemporary communication and need to incorporated within schools’ curriculums. However, it is also important to not reduce the importance of books and printed based texts while adding multimodality to learning programs (Walsh, 2010, p.211). Walsh (2010) conducts a study on nine classroom in Sidney and focuses on how teachers could engaged with multimodal literacies (p.212). This research shows that it is possible to combine in class both print based and digital literacies with blogs, images, PowerPoints, smartboards. In addition, teachers recognizes that there is a need to prepare pupils with the accurate communication tools they can use outside schools and that will be significant for their future. (Walsh, 2010, p.226). With the diagram displayed bellow, Walsh (2010) shows that with digital technologies it is possible to propose to student a complete learning experience where talking, listening, reading and writing are interdependent. In addition, the diagram, which as been design according to the conducted study, points out that multimodal literacies are resources that can be associated or interchanged with each other in a classroom (pp.222-3).

Walsh, M. (2010)

This interchangeable aspect of multimodal literacies in the classroom is important. Indeed, Walsh (2010) explains that we are in a transitional period because both digital as pint-based literacies are still essential. Indeed, when we integrating new technologies in education, it has to be sure that basic aspects of reading, writing, grammar and spelling are still correctly taught and learned (p.226).

            In another work, Roswell and Walsh (2011) presented a pilot study that was organize in a primary school in Oakville, Ontario about the use of iPads as multimodal tools in classrooms.

The results of this study were really satisfying according to the teachers. Moreover, the authors explain that teachers recognized the need to teach multimodal literacies to student in order to prepare them for their future life (p.54). Indeed, they emphasis the importance of multimodality in our lives by stating that : “digital communications technology has so permeated the way we communicate, informally and formally, that it has become more than a tool in many ways.” (Roswell & Walsh, 2011, p.60). The teachers of the study also realized that multimodal tools were already accessible to their students outside school. Therefore, it is also appropriate to use these new tools such as blogs, Twitter, Wiki or smartphones apps in order to teach in class. Additionally, this study reveals that using these techniques enhanced the collaboration between students. The authors claim that “There was more problem-solving occurring as students investigated a topic and then negotiated the way they would create and construct a product to demonstrate their learning.” (Roswell & Walsh, 2011, p.60).

            In order to understand better how multimodality works in schools by using a different mode than written text, I invite you to watch this video of an Australian teacher using multimodal tools in her class.

            Using multimodality in class has some benefits. Indeed, multimodal learning creates an exciting and inclusive environment for students. It allows student to follow what they are learning with the mode they prefer. If they are not comfortable with a mode, they can choose another learning style. Multimodality ensures students to have a better understanding of knowledge and multiple modes even helps them to remember information. In addition, multimodal learning enable the use of new and fun technologies and medias in the classroom (May, 2019).

Bales (2019) proposes several tips to engage with multimodality in school. He explains that it is firstly important to make sure that student have the same accessibility to digital medias. Then he proposes to provide to students various ways to interact with texts such as infographics, audio books or podcast (By the way, we recorded one podcast in the framework of this project about multimodality, click here to listen to it). The author adds that it is important to associate words with images and to make appeal to the visual with videos or PowerPoints. Finally, he explains that one example that could be use in class with older than 13 years old student could be to communicate with them through social media platforms. As explained by Lazear (2011), the more different ways you learn something the more you will really learn it, remember it and understander it.

In conclusion, the literature concerning multimodality in education is almost unanimous. Multimodality can be very beneficial in schools if it is applied correctly. Indeed, it enhances collaborative work between student. It is also very inclusive because it allows pupils to choose between multimodal literacies and follow the one that correspond the most to them. This often results in a better general understanding and helps to remember learned knowledge as it teach through different ways. Moreover, it prepares students to the contemporary multimodal ways of  communication omnipresent in our society. However, neglecting the importance of book and printed text based learning in school would be a huge mistakes. It is primordial that an adequate teaching of reading and writing basics is guaranteed.


Art & Multimodality : A Belgian Example

This blogpost is part of a series of different elements in regards to the concept of multimodality. This contains multiple blog posts discussing different aspects of this concept as well as a podcast tying all of this together in verbal form. To access the other elements of the series, click on the buttons bellow:

Multimodality is defined as the use of multiple modes in one product (Jewitt, 2008). In other words, multimodality occurs when different literacies are used in order to make meaning of something (Kress, 2011). In order to learn more about this concept and its history, you are invited to visit the blogposts of the other members of this project. Artists were the first ones to play with these different literacies and their interactions. Indeed, the interplay of text, image and sound is present in artworks since many years (Clivaz, 2017, p.101). However, there has been an increasing use of Multimodality in arts and in society more generally with the advent of digital culture. New Technologies rendered various modes and literacies easily accessible to everyone. They even became embedded them in our daily ways of communicating (Walsh, 2010, p.211).

Some multimodal artworks can appear complex at first glance. Indeed, it can be difficult to grasp all the information of a piece at once. People naturally ignore some features of the work to focus on others (Nanay, 2012, p.363). However, multimodality in Arts  is interesting to focus on because it allows artists to create unique experiences by stimulating different senses. Different modalities are not solely used by artists to create sensory experiences. Some artists also decide to use multimodalities in order to provide additional information that are essential to the understanding of their work. Such as in this audible comics you can discover by clicking on this link :


In this case, the author decided to give oral complementary information to the readers. The comments can be activated by clicking on this signal  ► on the right top corner of the comic when you are on full screen mode. By doing that, you are able to listen to what the author wanted you to know in addition to the comics (Diao, 2012).

In this blogpost, one case of multimodal artwork is more extensively presented to you. Indeed, a closer look is given to the cybernetic light tower realised by Nicolas Shöffer.

Nicolas Schöffer is a French artist born in Hungary in 1912. After graduating in Budapest, he spent most of his life in the French capital where he dabbed firstly into painting to finally devote himself to sculpting and modelling. This multifaceted creator promoted the use of new technologies in his works. He preferred to sculpt lights and sounds rather than stone. In addition, Nicolas Schöffer wanted to produce accessible pieces which communicate with their public and their environment.  He believed that people should stop being simple spectators of art and should become actors of it. That is exactly what the artist achieved with his cybernetic sculptures (Ville de Liège, 2016).

Watch this video in order to visualize Nicolas Schöffer’s pieces. If you do not speak French, do not forget to make use of multimodal tools by activating translated subtitles.

This blogpost focuses on the biggest artwork materialized by Nicolas Schöffer, the Cybernetic Light Tower of Liège in Belgium.

            This monumental futurist 52 meters tower was built in 1961. This giant sculpture is composed of different motorized arms and spotlights which are monitored by an electronic brain. The latter is able to interact with its environment. Through different algorithms and sensors that capture temperature, surrounding noises and wind speed, the electronic brain can accordingly react with three different modes. The tower moves reflecting plates, it can produce noises and turns on lights of different colours (Ville de Liège, 2016).

Around the end of the 20th Century, the tower lost the interest of the people and has been abandoned for a few years. However, in 2015, it was restored and re-inaugured in 2016. In this second version, new technologies were used in order to improve the quality of the interactions of the tower but without modifying them. The original spirit developed by Schöffer around this tower was kept and even upgraded (Zimmerman, 2019). Indeed, one dimension of Schöffer vision of Art has been add to the tower; the public implication in his art. The tower is now able to react according to its public through two different modes; a specific application or  Twitter. Therefore, it is now possible to interact with the tower from home and see the result instantaneously.

Let’s try it, and let me guide you through this experience.

1. Firstly, start  by clicking on the link bellow to see how the tower is interacting with the environment and its public in real time. https://www.tourcybernetiquedeliege.be/la-tour/.

2. Now that you understand how the tower works, follow this twitter account: https://twitter.com/CyberTower.

3. Lastly, while watching the tower, try to twit a colour and tag the latter account (@Cybertower) in your twit.

4. Now see the result, the tower should display the colour you choose in your Twit (Ville de Liège, 2016).

There is another way to interact with the tower from home. Indeed, you can download an app on the following website, https://www.tourcybernetiquedeliege.be/. This program allows you to determine every functions of the tower; lights, axes of the reflecting plates and noises. After choosing a configuration, you can submit it, and each Friday from 10pm to midnight, every submitted configurations are displayed one by one by the tower (Ville de Liège, 2016).

            At his creation, the cybernetic tower represented a new and innovating way to make art by combining three different dimensions, light, sound and time. The latter were little exploited together by sculptors before. With his tower, Nicolas Schöffer created an unique multimodal experience. Indeed, this artistic creation embodies perfectly the notion of multimodality. Via different modes, the tower processes information of its environment and its public and is able to react to them through three modes. Indeed, the tower use multimodality by producing lights, sounds and moving its axis. Additionally, it does not do it randomly and this is why it generates such an unique spectacle. By using new technologies, the tower is able to transform multimodal data such as Twits, wind, temperature and sounds and alters it into three distinct other modes. People can also create their own artwork through this tower. Indeed, with an app, you can decide what you want to display for short moments, while the rest of the time these three modes are monitored by the environment of the tower. In conclusion, Nicolas Schöffer’s creation successfully managed to use multimodality in order to switch his public from spectator to actor of his art.


  • Clivaz, C. (2017, November). Multimodal Literacies and Continuous Data Publishing: une question de rythme. In Advances in Digital Scholarly Editing. Papers presented at the DiXiT conferences in The Hague (pp. https-www). Sidestone Press.
  • Jewitt, C. (2008). Multimodality and Literacy in School Classrooms. Review of Research in Education, 32(1), 241-267.
  • Kress, G. (2011). ‘Partnerships in research’:multimodality and ethnography. Qualitative research, 11(3), 239-260.
  • Nanay, B. (2012). The multimodal experience of art. aesthj Journal52(4), 353-363.
  • Ville de Liège. (2016, June 21). Nicolas Schöffer. La Tour Cybernétique de Liège. https://www.tourcybernetiquedeliege.be/nicolas-schoffer-2/
  • Walsh, M. (2010). Multimodal literacy: What does it mean for classroom practice?. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, The33(3), 211.
  • Zimmerman, Q. (2019, February 13). La tour cybernétique de liege (1961). Les Petites     Histoires. https://lespetiteshistoires.be/la-tour-cybernetique-de-liege/

Reflection on Period 2

This second period already comes to an end and I can’t wait to be the 17th of December at 16pm to enjoy a well deserved Christmas break. Indeed, this period has been intense in term of workload. However, I learned many new valuable things I have not heard about before. What I really like about this period is that we started to practise and use very useful tools (Audacity, microphones, Voyant Tools) to actually make projects.

As it is state in the name of the course, in Design Thinking and Maker Culture, we actually started to make. When this course started, I was really enthusiastic about  producing actual things other than academic papers. This is what we are currently doing with a podcast that you will be able to listen on this blog in a few days. For this podcast which is part of a bigger project, my group and me decided to approach the concept of multimodality. I realized by analysing it that this was probably the best way to communicate and make a clear and understandable meaning of a message. I also liked how we were introduced to multimodality in different environments such as academic, education or arts. It allowed me to get how it could be used and also incited me to maybe use it in further projects.

I was less enthusiastic about the second course, Machines of Knowledge. Indeed, at first glance, it looked like a traditional theoretical course with an academic paper at the end. However, I really liked how through different theories (Feminism, Post Colonialism and data sphere) we approached current societal issues with a very specific method; distant reading. I probably would have liked being introduced to this very new method a bit earlier in the period in order to grasp everything and not being in the rush to understand it two weeks before the deadline. However, I really liked that we had to make use digital programs I did not know because these are tools that could be really useful for our professional careers.

From today, I still have one complete week left to finish all the final assignments. Then I ‘ll probably take some days off to rest a little bit. Then, I’ll start thinking about our biggest project of this year, the master thesis.