This project sought to develop multimedia writing pedagogy based on developing students’ explicit knowledge of ‘grammatical’ design – strategically integrating the meaning-making resources of language, image, sound and movement in dynamic, three dimensional compositional contexts. The project has involved progressive collaborative development of pedagogy with teachers beginning with close cooperative participant-observation case studies in four classrooms in the first year to extended work in 18 classrooms in the second year and 25 classrooms in the final year.


  • ARC Linkage Project, $195,000 (Administered by University of New England)



Industry partners

  • Australian Children’s Television Foundation

Research problem

This project will generate a pedagogy focusing on three-dimensional (3D) multimedia authoring, encompassing the convergence print, animation, image, sound and video. In so doing the project specifically aims to:

  1. Explicate the design features and characteristic uses of language and images in high quality student 3D multimedia narratives.
  2. Describe students’ knowledge and compositional processes used in producing quality artefacts.
  3. Design optimal pedagogic contexts for developing students as 3D multimedia authors.


  • teachers (n=52) and students (n=1000) had very limited knowledge in relation to multimodal authoring; in response to this, pedagogical strategies were developed by the research team working with case study teachers.
  • he pedagogical strategies based on explicit teaching of multimodal concepts which were developed by the research team and implemented by the participating classroom teachers leads to a growing student awareness of multimodal design elements, appropriate metalanguage as embedded in classroom discourse, and the capacity to build point-of-view
  • students have consistently demonstrated capacity for creative adaptation of existing texts
  • factors most influential in the development of quality texts appear to be:
    • student academic experience (year 6 students consistently performed better than year 5 students, all other factors taken into account
    • the pedagogical approach of the teacher (the work from certain classrooms is consistently of higher quality than in others)
    • ability of the teacher to help students to produce a manageable outcome
    • a classroom learning culture of persistence and completion is important
    • teacher technological know-how is important
    • teacher knowledge of literacy practices is important
    • a strong collaborative learning culture amongst teachers is advantageous
    • the embedding of multimodal texts (viewing/reading along with writing/creating) as an integral part of classroom life seems to lead to higher quality texts than when it is included as an “extra”
  • pair-constructed texts are less likely to be high quality than solo efforts
  • prior experience with multimodal authoring (later efforts by students tend to be better than early efforts)
  • factors such as gender, school location and environment, and general “tech-savviness” of students seem to be relatively unimportant

The project has revealed a clear and urgent need for increased professional development of teachers along with the clear and systematic incorporation of multimodal authoring in school-level plans in all primary and middle years classes. Well resourced and creative teaching material has been produced to support this.


The project has attracted significant attention with a report on National Television on the ABC: “Future Classroom – Catalyst” 17.02.2011


November 17, 2016

ILSTE Research Team

Professor Len Unsworth

Research Status


Research Partners

Dr A Thomas (University of Tasmania)



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