“This is the most useful thing I’ve done all month”: Reflections on Multimodal Composition

This quote comes from one of my students who is currently taking my upper-level-writing course. She said this to me at the end of an iMovie tutorial in class earlier this week. In the hour long class, she (and all of her classmates) had created thirty second videos that combined several kinds of media: music or sound files, a voiceover, a still image, video, and text of some kind.

When I pressed her as to why she thought video composing would be useful to her, she told me that she was planning to study abroad this summer and blog about her experiences. She thought that video would be a great way to do that kind of travel blogging.

This is just one of many similar interactions I’ve had with students in the past few semesters since I’ve ventured into teaching multimodal composition. And this is why I will keep teaching multimodal composition. And these are examples I will give when colleagues (or superiors) question the usefulness or feasibility of teaching multimodal composition in a composition course.

Because I refuse to only prepare students for some amorphous model of traditional, print-based, academic writing. While I value the urgency and immediacy of print based arguments and “academic discourse” kinds of writing to students’ experiences in higher education, and while I am happy to be able to support them in navigating those arguments and discourses and kinds of writing, I also value and feel compelled to support their co-curricular and extra-curricular and post-higher-education writing contexts and experiences.

And I know that multimodal composition is increasingly relevant (and even integral) to students’ co-curricular, extra-curricular, and post-higher-education experiences. And their academic ones for that matter. And now I’m off to teach multimodal composition again today; reaffirmed in my purposes, goals, and strategies for doing so.


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