About the Project

The Multiliteracies Project

                     Dr. Susan Picture

                                               Dr. Susan M. Holloway


The Multiliteracies Project is aimed at adult & community educators as well as junior intermediate and secondary school teachers to provide these educators with an introduction to multiliteracies theory as well as pedagogical tools and resources to use in their learning spaces and classrooms. Part of the vision for this web platform is to create a dialogue between adult educators and school educators interested in exploring multiliteracies in their own teaching. We also think that teacher educators might draw upon these resources as a way to teach about multiliteracies in faculties and departments of education. Multiliteracies has more often been taken up in elementary school settings, but we believe that content only becomes increasingly more complex and demanding as people become older, and that a multiliteracies approach can greatly serve to enrich learning.

On this evolving web platform, you will find excerpts of original film footage of learning spaces and classrooms from Ontario and Nova Scotia that illustrate facets of multiliteracies in action. There are also short interviews in which experienced educators discuss their teaching philosophies or pedagogies that they use in the classroom. In addition, samples of lesson plans, exemplars, or assignments have been shared here. We wanted to include the voices of the learners as well to give their perspectives on what they think fosters excellent teaching and learning. We have been conducting interviews with some policy makers and administrators to include a broader look at systemic supports and barriers to bring multiliteracies into literacy education.

If you find these initial resources helpful and inspiring, please consider also reading our open access research publications available here on the web platform to go deeper in your understanding of multiliteracies.

Please note that teacher candidates and graduate students in several of my courses at the University of Windsor have created the posts under the folder entitled “B.Ed./M.Ed. teachers.” Under the folder of “Multilingualism,” the graduate students’ work has been published.

“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 ten international literacy experts 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 and how we communicate:

  • Literacy should encompass multimedia forms and multimodal forms (combining different semiotic systems of communication such as sounds, gestures, visuals or spatial relations. 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 theory has a social justice focus, noting that language is always socially constructed and is a form of power.

We would like to gratefully acknowledge that this work has been funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight grant. It was originally also supported through a University of Windsor Women’s grant and Tri-Success Grant Program for the pilot projects.

Furthermore, I would like to thank Dr. Patricia Gouthro at Mount Saint Vincent University who is the co-investigator on this current SSHRC grant. We have held three consecutive SSHRC grants that look at creative literacies, multiliteracies, lifelong learning, Canadian fiction, and citizenship. We are fortunate to work with a great research team and wonderful collaborators on The Multiliteracies Project.

The hope is that this web platform will foster dialogue amongst educational stakeholders and that it might contribute to conversations on the ongoing importance and development of multiliteracies. Welcome to The Multiliteracies Project!

Dr. Susan M. Holloway
Faculty of Education,
University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada