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Chapter 18 – Multimodality

Chapter Summary

Literacy learning in early childhood education is changing as a result of new technologies. As these become more sophisticated, teachers and children will increasingly depend on the internet for information. Teachers and children will find themselves jumping constantly across modes of information, guided by icons. New learning and teaching in early childhood will involve multimodal thematic-connected projects and ways of integrating visual and verbal learning in the curricula of the future. However, now, and in the near future, we will see more consumer-oriented, market- dominated consumption in a world teeming with information and services. Young children are more and more becoming the target for multimodal marketing, and educators and children will need to develop very stringent critical analysis of the purposes and uses of texts. 

Further research into multimodality in early childhood education is important because technological change is increasingly redefining the nature of literacy. Reading and writing will become even more important in the future because of the increasing need to acquire and communicate information rapidly in a world of global competition and information economies. We live in a time where speed of information is central to success, and reading and writing proficiency will be even more critical to our children’s futures. 

There has been a plethora of research on the impact of television on children. However, the internet as a source of information, education and entertainment is set to have a far greater impact on the lives and learning of young children. It is essential for us to consider, for example, how inter- active, game-based entertainment will affect children’s play and learning. 

How will new technologies transform children’s dispositions or ‘habitus’, or ways of thinking? As children play, think and learn, this learning becomes internalised as structures, schemas or ways of thinking that can be used in other contexts. How will the increasing engagement with multimodal literacies change the ways children think and learn? New technologies continue to transform the lives of young children in their home and informal learning contexts, and so an education system that is meaningful and relevant to the lives of young children in the 21st century is vital.

Study Questions

Main ideas

There have been dynamic changes in literacy and increases in remote learning. How has multimodality influenced schools recently?
What is the multiliteracies map? How could it be used to plan ways to teach multimodal forms of communication?
How can we encourage children to be critical consumers of media?

Application to a developmental stage

What are the design elements to consider in a multimodal text? Do you think preschoolers can design multimodal texts? Why or why not?

Diverse learners

How do you think mobile devices are changing the way diverse learners are engaging in literacy?


How would you assess a multimodal text developed with young learners?

Teaching plans

Read the case study of a fairy tale unit of work. Think about the scaffolding and teaching that took place so the children were successful in developing a multimodal text.