Off the top of my head, I think each one of the seven interviewees has talked about the "risk" of presenting work multimodally. In some instances they specifically talked about there being a perceived (and sometimes real) risk of taking a multimodal approach to high stakes assessment. And perhaps most significantly from a personal of view, there have been a few occasions where the riskiness of the multimodal dissertation has been discussed.
Hmmm. This isn't encouraging. If the tutors responsible for marking dissertation on the MSc programme are talking about it being problematic - and they were necessarily just talking about a student-based sense of trepidation - maybe I should heed the warnings. Is now the time to take risks or do I lose a bit of face and opt for a more conservative, less interesting approach?
I think a key point here - and it merits being put in bold type - is that I should only opt for multimodal dissemination if it can be realised effectively. Considering the topic of my research, it really wouldn't look good if my own dissertation failed to put into practice some of the lessons taught or learned during the exercise.
We should be very cautious in attributing affordances to a particular mode or assessmblage of modes.
First of all, there is widespread acceptance that a communication event will be shaped by cultural, political and economic factors, meaning that no two acts of communication are the same. Within this, the way in which meaning will be read or interpreted will be heavily influenced by the cultural background and interests of the receiver within a particular environment. As such how can we quantify the extent to which a particular affordance will be realised on a particular occassion? Or to apply this directly to the subject of my own research, how can we accurately assume whether the affordances that might be associated with the way in which ideas have been proposed within a particular multimodal artefact, will have the effect we expect. Put simply, when the process of communication is fluid and uncertain, can the student designing a multimodal artefact anticipate how it will be interpreted with any certainty?
And this assumes that there is a simple, reliable and generically applicable model for proposing the affordances attributable to different modes. If we accept the idea of affordances at all, ////// suggestion that one of the affordances [section here about the affordance of speech or text. But what happens when this text is mediated [a bit here about how the text could be mediated through a different tech]. This is a vital question considering the ever range of digital communication tools (citation) and the fact that new modes being created all the time as result (citation). The rapidly evolving nature of the enviroment prompts a need for a constantly updated list of how affordances might be realised by particular technologies and new combinations of modes. If we accept that we are living in a rapidly evolving digitised society then any list that proposes the affordances of a particular media or modes will be out of date soon after they committed to the page (or screen, or canvas or airwaves).
The apparent certainty surrounding the existence of communicational affordances is contested by some within the literature. Similarly, the seemingly straightforward task of determining the affordances to be derived through the communication of ideas through a particular has been challenged.
It's now two weeks since I met with Sian to discuss my lit review and I haven't spent too much time on my dissertation since then, for good reasons. I feel good though for having something of a break as I have a bit of enthusiasm to move onto the next stage. Here's what I need to get moving tomorrow (Friday) afternoon and then over the weekend:
OK, that's enough to be getting on with.
Maybe I should create a new page on this website where I give a short explanation of what I'm up to in my dissertation?
Maybe it could be an extended abstract?
Or perhaps there would be basic information plus consent forms and other more general information.
It would be useful to be able to include a link to this page when approaching people with my plans e.g. for interview, observation. I think a link is better than an attachment. Particularly in terms of gaining consent to participate in the observation research, it would be good to be able to use this information/site in terms of gaining trust.
Just bookmarking this, with a view to revisiting at a later stage when it comes to 'writing up'. These images - gathered under the title 'Interstellar overdrive' - are collected on the 50watts website.
As I scrolled through the different images earlier today, I was taken by this and other similar pictures that display a galaxy with some explanatory text at the side. This might work well for my own constellation approach to disseminating my ideas.
I could have some introductory explanatory text at the bottom left - dialogue style - - that outlines what the dissertation is about. On the right hand side meanwhile I could have a legend than explains how the map might be navigated, a short rationale for why I've taken this approach and even a key indicating where I use video, words, audio etc. The text in these sections could be larger so that they are an obvious starting point, or I could use an arrow or some other graphic.
I could have some genre-based visual fun with this. Within my lit review I make the point that when we're talking about multimodality, we're not talking about something that is necessarily new. As Jewitt says, the texts always borrow from the old. My constellation could be an interstellar embodiment of that. It would take the old astronomical map and subvert or re-engineer it with the use of modern technology, buy all the while using modes that transcend new and old. This kind of thing could be good to write about in my rationale for the non-traditional dissemination.
Further to my last meeting with Sian (1 Feb) here are her valuable comments on my lit review, as well as some other feedback from out meeting, beginning with the latter.
Promised links and papers
Fantastic. Lots more useful stuff to look at over the next couple of weeks ahead of my next meeting with Sian.
Well, that’s not what I was expecting at all. I really, really wasn’t anticipating hearing that I’d done a good job on the lit review. I put lots of effort and thinking into it, however input doesn’t = output. As such, I entered this afternoon’s meeting with Sian prepared to take on board lots of constructive criticism and ready to record lots of suggestions for necessary improvements. I was fair knocked back by her positive response, to the extent that I sat blankly – stunned – before trying to capture some of her comments. This is what I managed to capture:
“I’ve cracked it quickly. Offers some good context. Covers relevant stuff. Sian is really encouraged – I write well. It’s going really well. Things are organized and happening.”
A great writing style, but evidently poor powers of self-appraisal. Meanwhile, here are some of the gaps.
Other agreed points:
Lots to do, but lots of positives to take from the meeting.
Some prep ahead of my meeting with Sian, beginning with points to discuss:
Research propsoal, ethical declaration and consent forms updated and submitted
Formally enrolled on course
Contanct made with Architecture and date set for observation
Contact made with ECA, approval gained for observation
Christine, Clara, Hamish, Rory, Jen and Marshall all agreed to be interviewed
Working on lit review
Explored using Prezi as canvas for disemmination - possible, but tricky
Narrowing the focus of my research: As I carried out my literature review, I've been prompted to try and focus on the idea of judging the quality of multimodal artefacts in academic setting, rather than wider tutor attitudes. I still think that might come out, however within the limited (length) constraints of the dissertation, I think it would be really good to try and focus in on the most interesting question. And if so, I would intend to reflect this new focus within my dissertation title, which at the moment is a bit abstract and vague.
Visual data collection: is this really necessary? Is it going to add anything to my project? Will I have sufficient scope for analysis with the interviews and the observation? If I opt not to do this, I'll free up some time for deeper analysis and writing up. Having said that, it might be interesting in terms of dissemination.
Interview participants commenting on artefacts: Rather than asking participants to bring an example of a good and bad artefact to the interview, why don't I instead bring a couple of examples to get their thoughts on. That way I could select artefacts based upon interesting themes emerging from the literature. It might also be interesting to see how different tutors attitudes and ideas compare.
I’d intended to opt for face-to-face, however I wonder whether Skype would be better, to save transcription time. I also found this approach worked for me during the New Geographies project.
Videoing crit observation
I thought for a while about videoing crit observations, based upon work by Jewitt. It means I would be able to go back and revisit what took place. I recognise that some students might not be happy with this and that I’d have to seek approval. Unsure about this – I think it might be useful, however I don’t want it to make the process of getting approval more problematic. Maybe if I give participants the chance to opt out. And I could record in an unobtrusive way. It would be really good from a multimodal dissemination perspective to have some video footage.
Making use of suggested contacts
I didn’t need to get in touch with the individual suggested by Jen or Dai. Is it still worth making contact to get their thoughts – or do I recognise how busy they are (and I am) and let the opportunity pass?