Rachel Karchmer-Klein is teaching future educators to read and write multimodal texts.

Technology in the Classroom

Teaching future educators how to read and write in a new way


(Editor's note: This article is part of a continuing series by University IT on innovative use of technology in campus classrooms.)

11:37 a.m., Nov. 12, 2012--Rachel Karchmer-Klein, an associate professor in the University of Delaware’s School of Education, is teaching future educators to read and write multimodal texts, which includes everything from literature on a Kindle or iPad to information on a website.

“With traditional texts we teach students to read left to right, top to bottom, but electronic text is different because it contains multiple modes,” Karchmer-Klein explained. 

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The reader is able to interact with the text in different modes, “Graphics, video, audio and hyperlinks are used to present a unified meaning within the text. In a digital book, you can usually highlight the words or move them,” she said. 

Karchmer-Klein instructs students to track their eye movements when reading electronic texts. “Research tells us that when you interact with a multimodal text, readers tend to go to the mode they are most interested in,” she said.

A well-written multimodal text will leave readers with the same understanding no matter what order the modes are used in, which is a concept that Karchmer-Klein emphasized.

 “My students always tell me, ‘Wow I never thought about this before. I never thought about where my eyes went first, or how audio might distract me from the words on a page.’”

Writing a cohesive electronic text is just as important as reading one. By first understanding what a mode is, students learn by tracking their own eye movements how they want a reader to interact with digital texts of their own creation. 

“I think conducting your own research and analyzing your thought process as a reader, yourself, before trying to create your own digital texts, really gives students a better appreciation of how to pull all of those modes together to create cohesive, coherent texts,” she said. 

Karchmer-Klein, along with School of Education colleagues Chrystalla Mouza and Fred Hofstetter, were awarded an IT Innovation Grant over the summer. The grant will support the use of iPads in a curriculum redesign project for pre-service teachers.

“The great thing is that students will get to keep the device for the semester. The whole purpose of an iPad is as a personal device. The students will not only learn how to integrate it as a pre-service teacher into their teaching, but they will use the device to manage their own classes as a student.”

Karchmer-Klein hopes to make a greater impact on students by providing them with the latest technology in a “learn by doing” environment.

Article by Sarah E. Meadows


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