The Learners' Platform: Developing Multimodal Literacies in a Digital Age

W. Brown, G. Hartwick, and J. Lapadat (Canada)


Instructional Technology, Computers and Education


The authors of this paper frame a problem of mismatch between students’ out of school and in-school literacies, and the difficulty in learning to teach with constructivist methods in a time of shrinking educational resources and the back-to-basics movement. They describe a comprehensive approach to unit planning and curriculum delivery that they developed in response to the problem, using repeated cycles of action research over the course of a school year. Drawing on social constructivist learning theory and Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, two grade seven teachers used the graphics and desktop publishing capabilities of their classroom computers to implement change in their practice through a common approach to unit planning. The teachers found it easier to implement new instructional strategies, including arts and technology-based activities, within familiar formats. The mental models and routines that developed appeared to help to reshape social interaction among students, parents, and teachers, so that support for student achievement became more of a joint effort, and student motivation and responsibility seemed to improve. Through the course of the study, an awareness of the transformative effects of their joint work prompted these teacher researchers to envision an electronic network that would extend their circle of collaboration to interested colleagues.

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