Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Border Crossings and Multimodal Composition in the Arts

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Border Crossings and Multimodal Composition in the Arts

Article excerpt


Developmental and development-oriented learning with digital media are discussed in relation to the concepts border crossings and multimodal composition. The first concept refers to a transveral of disciplines and recombinations of elements from them. Local-global relations in knowledge building are covered. The second refers to the collaborative construction of multiliteracies across media types and discourse modes. Three case studies relating to Zimbabwe are presented, one in fine arts and two in performing arts. A cultural historical activity theory frame is adopted. Analysis draws on expansive learning. As a whole multimodal discourse and activity theory may be enriched through study of students' production of mediating artifacts.

Keywords: Multimodal composition, border crossing, activity theory, expansive learning, pottery, choreography, digital scenography, multiliteracies, Zimbabwe


Two senses of development

This article is about three cases of student composition using a variety of media types and discourse modes. The cases relate to projects involving Zimbabwean students, both in Harare, Zimbabwe, and Oslo, Norway. In these cases, development is seen to have two senses: 1) developmental processes in student learning, and 2) student learning in development-oriented contexts, that is in 'developing' countries. This article attempts to draw together these two senses and to show that they may enrich one another, theoretically and practically. It does this by accessing two core concepts: border crossing and multimodal composition.

With regard to developmental processes in student learning, I refer to border crossing in terms of students' engagement in experimental processes; by shaping digitally mediated art and performance works as mediating artifacts, and by communicating about those works academically. I use the term multimodal composition to encompass students' creative and critical constructions in fine and performing arts as part of their own emerging electronic multiliteracies. In the second sense of development, the article refers to how inquiry into the implementation of ICTs in learning involving Zimbabwean students has moved between two geographically remote countries, Zimbabwe in the 'south' and Norway in the 'north'. The material presented shows that perspectives, pedagogies and innovation may also move from their local genesis in a resourcestrapped African higher educational and development setting to experimental works relating to Zimbabwe at a major university in one of the world's most technologically endowed countries.

Three cases relating to Zimbabwe

Three cases are presented1 which may be seen as instances of how students' uses of ICTs may generate new knowledge for both themselves and for the research projects connected to them. The cases offer empirical evidence on ways in which experimental multimodal discourses may be built through student collaboration, via access to different media and modes of communicating, and in interdisciplinary partnerships. At a time of considerable political turmoil surrounding access to land in Zimbabwe, these student projects offer creative, constructive and culturally articulated contrasts to the self-destructive political policies about land redistribution in Zimbabwe. These student works show what it was possible to develop locally via a large project HyperLand, from which the first case on fine art is drawn. HyperLand had the overall goal of motivating and supporting students' critical investigations of representations and mediations of 'land' as part of their production-based learning about content, culture and ICTs. This approach was extended to the interplay of digital scenography in collaborative processes of choreographing and performing dance works. In all of these cases, students managed to locate and negotiate important cultural inheritances and traditions and to include them as meaningful resources in their own digitallymediated learning. …

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