This extract from a recent article in the journal Curriculum Leadership (Vol 8 Issue 16) would make an ideal addition to the Australian Curriculum for English, from K-12:
What are multimodal texts?
A text may be defined as multimodal when it combines two or more semiotic systems. There are five semiotic systems in total:
- Linguistic: comprising aspects such as vocabulary, generic structure and the grammar of oral and written language
- Visual: comprising aspects such as colour, vectors and viewpoint in still and moving images
- Audio: comprising aspects such as volume, pitch and rhythm of music and sound effects
- Gestural: comprising aspects such as movement, speed and stillness in facial expression and body language
- Spatial: comprising aspects such as proximity, direction, position of layout and organisation of objects in space.
Examples of multimodal texts are:
- a picture book, in which the textual and visual elements are arranged on individual pages that contribute to an overall set of bound pages
- a webpage, in which elements such as sound effects, oral language, written language, music and still or moving images are combined
- a live ballet performance, in which gesture, music, and space are the main elements.
Multimodal texts can be delivered via different media or technologies. They may be live, paper, or digital electronic.
The article, by Michele Anstey and Geoff Bull, outlines ways to help support students’ facility with multimodal texts, and ideas for commencing a professional learning process to engage with multimodality in more sophisticated ways.
If ACARA were to adopt this framework for modality (including the terminology of the ‘technology’ of ‘delivery’, and the broad categories of live, paper and digital electronic production) I think the Curriculum would be headed in a much more generative (and logical!) direction.