Dr. Susan M. Holloway
The Multiliteracies Project is aimed at Junior Intermediate and Secondary School teachers to provide these educators with multimodal and multimedia tools to use in their classrooms. It also provides detailed lesson plans in which the pedagogical tools are embedded into them. Furthermore, each lesson plan is followed by a short written piece in which each team provides a written critique of how their pedagogical tool puts theory into practice (what Paolo Freire refers to as “praxis”).
“Multiliteracies” is a term that was coined by the New London Group (Cope & Kalantzis, 1996) in a manifesto that they originally published in the Harvard Educational Review. This group of 10 international literacy experts, including Allan Luke and James Gee, recognized that thinking about literacy as just reading and writing based on traditional language-based approaches was too narrow in definition. They articulated what they saw as two main tenets that expanded this definition of literacy:
Literacy should encompass multimedia forms and multimodal forms (combining different semiotic systems of communication such as sounds, gestures, visuals or textures); it should also recognize the importance of technology and digital literacies. Literacy uses a variety of mediums of communication to construct meaning.
Literacy should acknowledge that we live in increasingly diverse social, linguistic, and cultural milieus. We need to ensure that people of all backgrounds have equitable access to a range of literacies to be active and productive citizens. A multiliteracies theoretical framework recognizes that the discourses necessary for critical engagement within communities and work places are always evolving. Multiliteracies have a social justice focus, noting that language is always socially constructed and is a form of power.
This web platform also brings together Content Area Literacy from most subjects taught at the Junior Intermediate and Secondary school level in Canada (in addition, some of the projects are cross-curricular). Content Area Literacy provides a framework that encourages students to work more effectively with textbooks and academic content in multiple subject areas. It provides a theoretical rationale for teachers to use a pedagogical approach that draws upon a wide variety of resources to work in tandem with textbooks as well as instructional scaffolding tools to teach in the spirit of generating genuine inquiry and interest in various content areas.
The teacher candidates and graduate students in several of my courses at the University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario have created, designed, and produced the posts on The Multiliteracies Project web platform.
Teacher candidates from the courses Language Across the Curriculum 80-334, Language Arts 80-324, Critical Analysis of Social, Global & Cultural Issues 80-209 in the Consecutive and Concurrent Bachelor of Education programs have their work published on the project.
In addition, found under the heading of “Multilingualism,” graduate students from Language, Culture, and Society 80-540 in the Master of Education program at the University of Windsor have also published their work.
I would like to gratefully acknowledge Alicia Higgison in the Office of Open Learning at the University of Windsor for her hard work and skill in providing all of the technical creation and support for this project. This project would not have happened without her ongoing assistance. I would also like to thank the graduate assistants, research assistants, and work study students who have been part of my team in creating this platform.
I am currently underway with conducting research over the next few years with some of the students who have participated in The Multiliteracies Project with the aim of gaining better insight into how multiliteracies function in theoretical and practical terms. I wish to gratefully acknowledge the support of a University of Windsor Women’s Grant, which is currently providing the funding for this research.
Furthermore, I would like to thank Dr. Patricia Gouthro at Mount Saint Vincent University. We have held two consecutive SSHRC grants that look at creative literacies, multiliteracies, lifelong learning, Canadian fiction, and citizenship. Exciting information on this research, which I have built on to create The Multiliteracies Project, can be found at www.patriciagouthro.ca.
The hope is that these pedagogical tools will provide valuable resources to educators across Canada and the world in years to come. Welcome to The Multiliteracies Project!
Dr. Susan M. Holloway
Faculty of Education,
University of Windsor