This section has drawn on the work of educational theorists and researchers, many of whom are linguists, and on multimodal studies more generally. We introduced the concept of multimodality, and explained why an understanding of multimodal texts – texts that use more than one semiotic mode – is important for teaching and learning, as well as more generally in everyday life. We also discussed design, a concept increasingly used in research into multimodal texts.
Information technology in its various forms is instrumental in allowing us to communicate through multimodal texts, and developments in information and communications technology are accelerating the need for us to become multiliterate in order to be adept at ‘reading’ such texts and understanding how they present information and why, and also at producing them ourselves. We considered the meaning of community in the context of increased use of computer mediated communications. We also looked at ways in which such technology usefully can be drawn upon to enhance the processes of teaching and learning, and pointed to some problematic issues around these new literacy practices, particularly those of uneven patterns of participation and access to technology. While some theorists and researchers embrace the spread of communications technologies and suggest it can and probably will enrich the lives of all, others point out that traditional forms of multimodality can become increasingly marginalised and undervalued.
We concluded this section by considering some ways in which researchers are exploring and analysing multimodality, focusing on the importance of space and researcher stance in carrying out research.