A Review of Bridging the Multimodal Gap: From Theory to Practice

Ed. Santosh Khadka & J. C. Lee

By Khadeidra (Khay) Billingsley & Kathleen Lewis

Section I: Multimodal-Process Work

In the first section of Bridging the Multimodal Gap: From Theory to Practice, there is a dominant thematic emphasis on the process of implementing multimodal work in the classroom. The authors' works are teacher-focused as they offer various guiding lights and moments of self-reflection for educators who are considering multimodal instruction.

Section One Graphic: list of chapter titles and authors. Click on image to go to textual table of contents.

As Section I's opening chapter, Rick Wysocki et al.'s "On Multimodality: A Manifesto" provided a set of seven categories of tenets to guide multimodal composing drafted by over ten authors and scholars. Drawing inspiration from design studies, specifically the First Things First Manifesto and its rhetorical velocity, this multivocal piece argued that rhetoric and composition is a prime "habitable" setting for multimodality (p. 18). Despite the structured presentation and organization of the numerous tenets outlined in the chapter, the authors stressed the notion of story and its diversity and multiplicity serving as the motivation for the piece. The principles promoted by Wysocki et al. are intended to be flexible and accommodating to various learning environments, learners, and classroom applications of multimodality.

Echoing the need for (self-)reflexivity, in Chapter 2, "Re-imagining Multimodality through UDL: Inclusivity and Accessibility," Elizabeth Kleinfeld advocated for the application of universal design for learning (UDL) to reimagine multimodal composition. She contended that such a framework enhances learning experiences for everyone, not just individuals with disabilities. Kleinfeld argued that accessibility should include geographical and cultural diversity while highlighting the differences between the accommodation model and UDL. According to her, the UDL approach affords students multiple ways to engage with content and to demonstrate comprehension. Audience awareness is central to Kleinfeld's advocacy for UDL, and instructors utilizing this multimodal approach are also aligning themselves with feminist teaching. In this piece, she asserted such a pedagogical move inadvertently promotes 21st century learning and teaching that prioritizes multimodality.

In Chapter 3, "Dissipating Hesitation: Why Online Instructors Fear Multimodal Assignments," Jessie Borgman discussed the fears and hesitations that online writing instructors have about integrating multimodality into virtual learning spaces. She categorized these fears into four different groups: logistics, student miscomprehension, pedagogical/learning value, and big bold expectations. Borgman then provided tangible examples of and suggestions for effective multimodal integration into digital learning platforms and settings as she highlighted the already-existing multimodal nature of learning management systems. She encouraged online educators to capitalize on these features and capabilities and cautioned them to not let fear be a hindrance. By embracing multimodality in online learning spaces, Borgman asserted that online instructors are able to synergize students' in-school and out-of-school literacies.