Plan for Reuse

When creating multimodal instruction, because it is time-consuming, we recommend thinking about ways to use many of the same tools for future classes. When creating screen capture videos, instructors can eliminate any specific class identifiers (i.e., the title of the class, the date, etc), so that videos can be transferable to other classes the instructor might teach and to other instructors who teach the same class. Instead of focusing on videos specific to one course, instructors can let the focus on multimodal pedagogy drive the instruction or creation of screen capture (Wales & Robertson, 2008). For example, instructors can create reusable videos that clearly define the learning objectives of a multimodal composition course. Or they can create supplemental video lectures that walk students through sample student projects, rhetorically analyzing the features of an example, guiding students through the creation of their own projects. Lastly, the instructor can also focus on creating tools for concepts that students often have trouble comprehending. For instance, in our classes, we have found that students each semester needed help with understanding the rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos. To support their learning of these key concepts, we designed videos around these topics, and then we offered students an extra credit opportunity to develop videos of their own on rhetorical appeals. Pedagogically driven videos such as these can be reused in various semesters, thus cutting down on the extensive time it often takes to design a multimodal course.

Incorporating multimodal instruction may sound daunting to faculty who have not previously used various media to offer instruction or guide students through production of text; however, an instructor can call on the knowledge of other colleagues on campus who possess skills of audio and video production. As Takayoshi and Selfe (2007) recommended, colleagues can serve as guest speakers, and they may even be willing to work with instructors one-on-one. One member from our team worked closely with a new media scholar to help students develop sound projects; she guest-taught using Audacity (an open-source audio editing program) for the development of sound portraits and soundscapes. This mentoring offered the familiarity to work with students in sound and develop curricular materials in the modality of sound. Many colleges and universities have centers for teaching and learning where skills in multimodal instruction can be gained. If access to recording studios and similar resources is limited, programs like Jing and Camtasia for screencasting are free and easily accessible. (Camtasia offers a free one-month trial, while Jing is a free program that limits video production to five minutes.)

Incorporating a wide variety of multimodal instructional tools can have a great impact on student learning. Starting with modification of assignments and incorporation of audio feedback can ease novice faculty into multimodal instruction. Looking for ways to supplement projects with existing videos may also slowly move any class into the 21st century. When embarking on a full-scale design of an online course using multimodal assignments and multimodal instruction, the task can be time consuming. However, once everything is in place—the course shell, instructional videos, assignment packages—the work for the future becomes more manageable. The same materials can be used or adjusted for the next semester. Likewise, instructors who want to start on a smaller scale can build up uses across multimodalities in their courses over time. What's important is to make the workload as manageable as possible, which can be done with careful planning.