Multimodal Pedagogy for English Teachers Lecture Series


English Method

Recent research has tended to emphasise the digital proficiency of university students. Nevertheless, studies have shown that, in countries with stark economic divides, it is problematic to assume that all students are “digital natives” (Prensky, 2001:1). There is a danger that students who are “digital strangers” may be disadvantaged because they are unable to utilise technology effectively in their academic work (Czerniewicz & Brown, 2013:1). It is therefore important that the engagement with digital technologies should be integrated into classrooms in higher education contexts. The concept of the digital stranger extends to teacher education. Providing space for engagement with ‘the digital’ by pre-service teachers is complex due to the dual purpose for its integration: (1) professional teachers are expected to integrate digital resources in their classrooms, while (2) they have to enable their learners to engage with digital technologies in ways that will be expected of them in the 21st Century. Engaging with digital technologies has therefore become crucial to teachers’ professional development. The shift from ‘digital literacies’ to ‘multimodal pedagogy’ The resources you are about to view were used in the 4th year of an on-going project aimed at integrating ‘digital literacies’ into English teacher education. Typically, this integration would consist of 4 to 6 contact sessions forming a course component within an English teaching method course (part of the Postgraduate Certificate in Education professional qualification), culminating in the students completing a digital classroom resource, or a digital story video. During the classes, we started suspecting that the strong focus on ‘the digital’ could be counter-intuitive, because foregrounding it too much de-contextualises it; in the 21st Century, ‘the digital’ has become entangled within an array of other practices, some of which are not necessarily digital per se. We have also realised that calling a course component ‘digital literacies’, might have caused upfront resistance, resulting in lessons focusing on the alleviation of anxieties, rather than fostering creativity, which has been our core intention since the project’s inception. We therefore redesigned ‘digital literacies’, resulting in a brand new ‘multimodal pedagogy’ curriculum: a way of integrating the digital in literacy teacher education that focuses much more on its intertwinement with multiple other practices - a more realistic depiction of digital technology use in teaching, foregrounding creativity and effective communication through a meta-awareness of modal affordances in the classroom, as opposed to just ‘using digital technologies’.