NEW TECHNOLOGY AND WRITING ABOUT LITERATURE
Information and communication technologies are heavily utilized in the lives of students: several studies have been conducted on effects of technology on learning and supporting writing instructions. Research indicates the positive effects of word processing (Goldberg, Russel & Cook, 2003), spell check (MacArthur, Graham, Hayes, De la Paz, 1996) and speech synthesis (Kelly, Kratcoski, & McLain, 2009). Despite the increasing attention, the effects of a multimodal approach on some phases of the writing process, such as organizing the ideas and constructing a text, have not been deeply investigated.
When considering this topic, we need to consider the changes that have occurred in the concept of textuality: multiple forms can be texts, and texts can be multimodal (Thomas, 2010; Cope and Kalantzis 2009). Modes, such as words, audio, images, hyperlinks and video, are signs that carry meaning (Bezemer & Kress, 2008).
To examine this issue, we concentrated on the writing tasks based on a multiple and multimodal sourcing, that Italian students are asked to develop at the examination at the end of the Secondary School. The essays can concern different topics: in this study we focused on writing related to literature.
The study aimed to analyse the effects of a multimodal approach to literature and writing on the quality of writing expression and on motivation towards literature: we wondered if students’ habits of multitasking and multimodal way of getting and linking information digitally could facilitate organizing strategies and the ability to structure a connected text and to articulate one’s point of view, supporting arguments and embedding personal reworked references to texts. In order to investigate this issue, we used Glogster, a virtual poster web 2.0 tool, that enables writers to compose multimodal messages merging video, images, text, hyperlinks and audio.
Forty students from two classes, attending 12th grade of Public Secondary School participated in the research.
Mix method research (quasi-experimental design) that comprised three phases:
1. Participants have been administered a pre-intervention test (adapted from Miall and Kuiken Response to Literature Questionnaire, 1994) to analyse the attitude towards literature and writing about literature and the quality of their writing performances.
2. The intervention has been structured in 4 workshops under the guide of an instructor:
i. The comprehension of the sources.
ii. Expressing your own ideas through Glogster tool.
iii. Planning a traditional text.
iv. Writing a traditional essay on the same topic as through Glogster.
3. All participants were administered a post-intervention test, that consisted of:
- The pre-intervention questionnaire, to which three questions about the Glogster tool were added
- Writing an essay based on multiple sourcing.
1. The pre- and post- intervention essays will be assessed in terms of:
a. Text organization (complex textual organization, coherence, cohesion)
b. Intertextuality and intermodality
c. Attention to the reader
2. The content of the poster will be analysed in terms of modes, semiotic resources and intersemiotic relationships (Jewitt, 2011).
3. The organization of the contents in the virtual posters will be compared to the organization of the ideas in the traditional essays.