Reading and writing multimodal texts through information and communication technologies
Shanahan, Lynn Ellen
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The purpose of this interpretive case study was to investigate two areas related to information and communication technologies (ICT's) used in a fifth grade classroom. First, this study identified the factors within the social cultural context of the fifth grade classroom that shaped the use of ICT's. Second, this study examined what literacy skills and strategies students and the teacher used to read and compose multimodal texts when interacting with ICT's. The data was analyzed from several different theoretical perspectives that align with one another, ecological systems, new literacies, semiotics and social cultural theories. The primary data sources were field notes, transcripts, interviews with the teacher and students, and students work. Analysis was ongoing using analytic induction and constant comparative analysis in conjunction with one another. The study resulted in the following findings: (1) The teacher's integration of ICT's and her stage of development impacted the traditional and new literacy skills and strategies present in the classroom. (2) The teacher and students drew on Resources of Available Design to create their HyperStudio multimodal composition. (3) Defining reading as reading only print based signs and not recognizing visual and auditory signs as information mediums to read constrained how the different modes of communication were used. (4) ICT's afforded new opportunities for communication with different sign systems and limitations within the software and hardware also constrained which signs were used. (5) Students rarely thought metacognitively about the use of visual and auditory design elements as information mediums to extend the message of the printed word, thus, these design elements were not used to their fullest potential. (6) If technology is integrated into the curriculum teacher's can set up learning situations where both traditional literacy elements and new literacy skills and strategies are present in the instructional context. Given the limited amount of research addressing the literacy skills and strategies students use when reading and writing multimodal text with ICT's this study provides information relevant to understanding new literacies and how to facilitate their use in the classroom. Further, this study provides information that can be used to prepare the next generation of adults to function within a society which uses ICT's as part of their daily practice.