What is Multimodal?

More often, composition classrooms are asking students to create multimodal projects, which may be unfamiliar for some students. Multimodal projects are simply projects that have multiple “modes” of communicating a message. For example, while traditional papers typically only have one mode (text), a multimodal project would include a combination of text, images, motion, or audio.

The Benefits of Multimodal Projects

  • Promotes more interactivity
  • Portrays information in multiple ways
  • Adapts projects to befit different audiences
  • Keeps focus better since more senses are being used to process information
  • Allows for more flexibility and creativity to present information

How do I pick my genre?

Depending on your context, one genre might be preferable over another. In order to determine this, take some time to think about what your purpose is, who your audience is, and what modes would best communicate your particular message to your audience (see the Rhetorical Situation handout for more information). For example, if your argument is articulated through images and graphs, it might make more sense to design a website rather than creating a podcast. Below, we’ve provided some examples of different genres and programs that can be used to create a multimodal project to get you started.

GenreApps and Software
Designing Websites/Blogs- Sway
- Blogspot
- WordPress
- Tumblr
- Padlet
Animations/Presentations- Moovly
- Powtoon
- Prezi
Podcast/Audio Recording- Audacity
- Anchor
- GarageBand
- Adobe Audition
Movie Editing- Windows Movie Maker
- iMovie
- Adobe Premiere Pro
- Final Cut Pro

What features can I control?

Like a well-designed advertisement, all elements of your project should work together to create one cohesive message. Compositions can contain visual, motion, audio, and textual elements. Some traits under these elements will be emphasized to stress importance while others will be deemphasized. Your choices regarding how these elements and traits are used will be crucial—there is a large difference between choosing a background color because it “looks cool” and picking a background color that corresponds with your message and highlights the important features in your document.

Visual- Composition
- Texture
- Size
- Color
- Saturation
- Focus
Motion- Zooming/Tracking
- Camera Position
- Perspective
- Speed
- Pan/Tilt
- Editing
Audio- Volume
- Speed
- Pitch
- Music
- Tone
- Frequency
Text- Size
- Placement
- Color
- Diction
- Tone
- Font

Multimodal Example

Below are some screen shots of a Sway designed by a UIS student entitled “Community Gardens and the Local UIS Community,” which argues how local community gardens can solve a national issue of food insecurity and food deserts. You can view the Sway online here to get a better sense of the background, motion, and organization, but we’ve highlighted a couple of important components of this Sway.

screenshot of sway introduction

Use of headings and bolding keeps the reader organized.

Smaller paragraphs, as opposed to large, blocky paragraphs, engages the reader better.

Image of Sway background, a black and white vine design

Background and colors should be intentionally selected. Here, the floral background and the green headings gives a natural feel, which matches the theme of the Sway.

screenshot of sway page of an image accompanying text

Images and videos allow for readers to process information visually. Posting videos also allows readers to choose how they interact with the argument.

image of sway headings on a green background showing how the sway has been organized

Organization of the topics follow in a logical order. The paper begins with defining the problem, moves to a solution, and then defines what is happening at UIS.