Use Popular Media

Another obstacle of using multimodal instruction is the fear of the unknown; specifically, instructors may feel unprepared to use multimodal tools. Lisa Bickmore and Ron Christiansen (2010) suggested, "A dilemma with multimodal composition arises when instructors have little direct knowledge of producing multimedia writing, understandably feeling themselves out of their depths" (p. 239). Just like students, teachers may not know how to develop multimodal texts and fear that learning these tools will take too much time. In a narrative article regarding testing the waters of multimodal composition as a "senior faculty member," Deborah Journet (2007) admitted to not knowing where to begin regarding teaching multimodal composition. Through a vivid description of her struggles, she suggested that programs or writing program administrators help "faculty articulate those ways in which they are already prepared to do the work of multimodal teaching—as well as help them identify the kinds of support they will need for what they do not yet know how to do" (p. 113, author's emphasis). In our courses, we ask that instructors start small, using popular media, a venue in which they are already familiar, to begin the multimodal conversation.

For instance, we prompted instructors to use media available to the public whenever possible, including YouTube videos and podcasts. The benefits of using open source technologies are twofold: They lessen the instructor workload, including time spent learning new programs and creating instructional tools, and they also contribute to students' social interaction. Henry Jenkins, Katie Clinton, Ravi Purushotma, Alice Robison, and Margaret Weigel (2007) indicated that interaction with popular media has ramifications that will translate to life outside of academia, prompting interaction in the classroom, as well as society. They also suggested that through multimodal interaction, students "will have greater fluidity in navigating information landscapes and will be better able to multitask and make rapid decisions about the quality of information they are receiving" (p. 11).