Texts, information and multimodality in the digital age: towards sustained and composite MIL in education

Petra Magnusson, Sylvana Sofkova Hashemi, Eva Wennås-Brante, Katarina Cederlund, Anna-Lena Godhe, Linnea Stenliden, Ewa Skantz Åberg, Eva Swärdemo Åberg, Anna Åkerfeldt

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceOral presentation


    For this presentation, we have compiled seven studies from primary to higher education. Thepurpose is to illuminate affordances the digital and multimodal text landscape impose onteachers and students. The Swedish curriculum (revised 2017) aims to strengthen students’digital competences towards understanding effects on society, using and understanding digitaltools and media, applying a critical and responsible approach and solving problems andapplying ideas creatively. This recent curricular revision puts emphasis on work withinteractive texts, texts created in collaboration with others, texts where words, images andsound interact, democracy and public opinion in social media, responsible use of language indigital media, understanding how information can be controlled by underlying algorithms,distinguishing between sources of information and interests behind them, boundary betweenfreedom of expression and social media violations, impact of digitalization on labor market,attitudes and values. Obviously, the technology brings new opportunities to the classroomfostering responsible and equitable access to information and knowledge and with thatrequirements to develop MIL skills to understand information and multimodal texts andnavigate safely in an increasingly complex society. As future citizens, students need to be ableto design texts, read to find and evaluate multimodal information. Consequently, students needinstructions and strategies to develop MIL and relevant digital text competences. How doteachers and students meet these expectations and requirements on MIL?A crucial feature, which has been shown in several studies including ours, displays that bothteachers and students need to develop knowledge of and a language for the phenomena that arecurrently outside what is traditionally covered by the school subjects. Further, teachers needtools attuned to new grading and assessment criteria, in order to support students in evaluatingand interpreting information and designing multimodal texts. Students, in turn, need strategiesand instructions on how to evaluate and interpret information to avoid superficial, misguidedor mechanical processing of information. They need to develop a broad understanding of visual,auditory and other modal representations and develop strategies for navigating and interpretingmultimodal text design. We have also found that teachers, regardless of grade or subject,experience difficulties to relate students’ digital text competences to the knowledgerequirements in curricula that to a large extent emphasize verbal language (i.e. speech andwriting). This may explain some of our results showing that other ways of expressing meaning(i.e. images and sound) tend to be overlooked or downplayed in assessment of students’ texts.Without teachers valuing non-verbal language, students will not access and engage incontemporary media and texts which implies lack of opportunities to develop MIL needed asfuture, critical and engaging citizens. We contend that the competence to design digital texts isthe other side of the coin of evaluating and reading information. We want especially highlightthe value of understanding the multimodal aspects of digital texts for teachers’ and students’critical access, use, and participation in the flow of information as a means to realize rights tofreedom of information and expression.

    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    EventGlobal Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week Feature Conference 24 to 26 September, 2019 -
    Duration: 1980-Jan-01 → …


    ConferenceGlobal Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week Feature Conference 24 to 26 September, 2019
    Period80-01-01 → …

    Swedish Standard Keywords

    • Educational Sciences (503)


    • digital text competences
    • education
    • information access
    • mil
    • multimodality


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