Multimodality and play in literature class: Bridging a gap between school and life with education on screen

Alexandra Milyakina

Punctum, 5(1): 159-179, 2019
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2019.0010


While trending in other fields of culture, multimodal and playful practices are still marginal to literary education. Since it is based on the values of specialist knowledge, authority, and authenticity, formal education struggles to adapt to the new principles of media production and consumption. Literary experience beyond the school walls embraces a wide range of multimodal texts and activities, however, informal literacy practices are often seen as threatening to the integrity of literary texts. Young people get acquainted with original texts via multiple versions and retellings, starting from adaptations in different media and on to memes, comic strips, and posts on social media. This paper presents a theoretical framework intended to establish continuity between different versions of a literary text along with integrating play and multimodality into literary education. The methodology stems from the tradition of semiotics of culture, which allows considering multimodal and playful practices as part of cultural autocommunication, a mechanism of self-description in culture. The theoretical argument is supported by the experience of Education on Screen, a research and development project focused on creation of digital learning platforms. The project aims to conceptualize the process of reading in a digital environment and showcases different tools for learning literature, such as tests, timelines, maps, role-playing and worldbuilding games. A case study presents the results of testing that took place in Estonian schools in 2017-2019. The design and effectiveness of learning activities are analysed using the tools of multimodal analysis.

KEYWORDS: literary education, multimodality, play, semiotics of culture, digital education
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