Module 9: Beyond the Research Paper

Introduction to multimodal presentations.

In this section we’ll consider multimodal presentation of ideas. “Multimodal” is a fancy word meaning something that uses multiple modes—in this case, modes of communication. The five modes of communication are:  visual ,  linguistic ,  spatial ,  aural , and  gestural .

A mode is different from a  medium : a mode is a means of communicating, while a medium is the channel or system through which communications are conveyed. So, for example, if we want to communicate in the linguistic mode , we might choose the medium of print. If we want to communicate in the aural mode , we might choose the medium of a podcast. Both print and podcasts are forms of media.

Multimodal presentation uses multiple modes to communicate information: for instance, an infographic uses both visual and linguistic modes to communicate (both images and words), while a video would use even more modes; potentially all five.

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types of multimodal presentations

  • Multi-Modal Presentations

How to do a multi-modal presentation

Statue of Augustus

Multi-modal presentations are typically audio-visual presentations that present the results of your historical research.

As a result, you need to undertake the research process and create an argument, very similar to that used in written history essays .

However, the unique format of this category allows you to use a variety of modes to present your information: either spoken, visual, video, performance, group discussion, etc.

Possible formats include:

  • dramatic presentation followed by an out-of-role explanation

visual performance, such as dance, artwork, etc.

video presentation

computer simulation or website creation

seminar presentation, such as a university lecture

formal speech

The most important element of this kind of assessment is that it is informative, based upon research and is engaging for the audience.

Crucial Elements

To ensure you achieve the best marks in a History presentation, make sure you cover all of the elements below at some time in your talk:

  • state your hypothesis clearly at the start so the audience can understand what your entire presentation is about
  • clearly highlight your topic sentences
  • use images of your artefacts and show important  direct quotes to your audience
  • take the time to talk through these key quotes so your audience understands how they prove your hypothesis
  • incorporate your analysis and evaluation of these sources into your script
  • restate your hypothesis clearly at the end of your presentation so that your audience remembers what you were arguing throughout your talk

Have a look at the example below to see how these different elements work together:

Speaking Advice

Many people are nervous when asked to talk in front of a crowd. The best piece of advice has always been: practice. The more your practice, the more confident you will be on the day. As you practice, try and implement the following advice for your verbal and non-verbal techniques:

Verbal Techniques

  • Speak loudly and clearly
  • Take your time
  • Don’t be afraid to pause

Non-Verbal Techniques

Use eye-contact when appropriate

Use different facial expressions

  • Pronounce your words clearly
  • Use hand gestures when needed

Here is an example of a multi-modal presentation that demonstrates excellent verbal and non-verbal skills:

Christian, D. (2011, April 11). The History of Our World in 18 Minutes. TED Conference.

Presentation Advice

Using a Script

  • Try not to use a full script – you’ll be tempted to read it
  • Use dot-point speech notes or palm cards
  • Put in action cues {like this} into your script to remind yourself to use hand gestures or move around

Designing a Slideshow

Try to keep any slideshow very simple. Limit slide information to a few short sentences. The audience should be listening to what your say, not reading chunks of text off slides.

A good rule of thumb is to have approximately one slide per paragraph in your script, and only have additional slides for specific sources you intend to discuss in-depth during your presentation.

Also, any movement on the screen will be a distraction to audience from what you are saying. Therefore, only use moving images or pieces of film for moments when you're not talking.

In your presentation, you only need to provide referencing for sources you’ve used in your argument. For example:

types of multimodal presentations

Therefore, the only pictures that require referencing are any artefacts you’re going to show your audience. For example:

types of multimodal presentations

If you have other graphics and images in your presentation that are there for solely aesthetic reasons, you are not required to reference them.

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types of multimodal presentations

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  • Creating multimodal texts

Multimodal texts combine two or more modes such as written language, spoken language, visual (still and moving image), audio, gestural, and spatial meaning (The New London Group, 2000; Cope and Kalantzis, 2009). Creating digital multimodal texts involves the use of communication technologies, however, multimodal texts can also be paper-based or live performances.

The Victorian Curriculum recognises that students need to be able to create a range of increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written, and multimodal texts for different purposes and audiences, with accuracy, fluency and purpose.

Why teaching creating multimodal texts is important

Creating multimodal texts is an increasingly common practice in contemporary classrooms. Easy to produce multimodal texts including posters, storyboards, oral presentations, picture books, brochures, slide shows (PowerPoint), blogs, and podcasts. More complex digital multimodal text productions include web pages, digital stories, interactive stories, animation, and film.

Student authors need to be able to effectively create multimodal texts for different purposes and audiences, with accuracy, fluency, and imagination. To do this, students need to know how meaning is conveyed through the various modes used in the text, as well as how multiple modes work together in different ways to convey the story or the information to be communicated.

Students need to know how to creatively and purposefully choose how different modes might convey particular meaning at different times in their texts, and how to manipulate the various combinations of different modes across the whole text to best tell their story (Jewitt, 2009). See: Modes .

Multimodal texts containing elements of other languages support EAL/D students to engage and achieve at school. They use the language and social abilities that they develop outside of school in classroom communication and tasks. These include translating, combining more than one language to communicate and learn, and using diverse linguistic and cultural practices when they communicate.

When EAL/D students use all their language abilities in a learning task, they make connections between existing and new knowledge. It enhances engagement and affirms their identities as learners who can integrate their knowledge of multiple languages to communicate, learn a new language and learn a new language.

EAL/D students learn to think critically about the purpose and function of each language they use in a multimodal text. Using the teaching and learning cycle, the teacher explicitly teaches the language and text structures that students need to complete these tasks.

EAL/D student authors who can use English and their language to create texts for multilingual audiences can, with support, choose how different multimedia modes and different languages combine in a text. It allows students to make creative and purposeful decisions about how to communicate effectively to particular audiences.

The choice to include elements of other languages in a text is an overt and concrete means by which students can develop their skills as text analysts. They detect and analyse underlying values, beliefs, views, and discern reader/viewer position within the text.

Support students to analyse a text by asking questions such as:

  • Why include more than one language?
  • Who is included/excluded?
  • What information should be contained in English and the other language? Do they need to be the same?
  • How might a monolingual English speaker view the text? In what ways would it be different from a bilingual speaker or non-speaker of English?

For more information about text analyst, see: The four resources model for reading and viewing

Examples of texts to create

Below are examples of different forms of texts students might create in the classroom. The complexity of creating texts increases proportionately with the number of modes involved and the relationships between the various semiotic, or meaning-making, systems in a text, as well as the use of more complicated digital technologies.

Simple multimodal texts include comics/graphic novels, picture books, newspapers, brochures, print advertisements, posters, storyboards, digital slide presentations (e.g. PowerPoint), e-posters, e-books, and social media.

Meaning is conveyed to the reader through varying combinations of written language, visual, gestural, and spatial modes.

Podcasts are also simple to produce, involving combinations of spoken language, and audio modes.

Live multimodal texts include dance, performance, oral storytelling, and presentations. Meaning is conveyed through combinations of various modes such as gestural, spatial, audio, and oral language.

EAL/D learners can be supported to understand and create simple multimodal texts that reflect the diversity in languages and cultures within the school. For example:

  • creating posters, newsletters, brochures or blogs with sections translated into home languages, or headings, captions and diagrams labelled in English and home languages. Students can also add glossaries or translations of key terms
  • creating comics with captions and speech bubbles written in English and home language, as appropriate for the purpose and audience. This could include different scripts in illustrated scenes and ‘sound effects. Particular characters may also speak a combination of English and another language or dialect
  • creating translations of popular picture books, their own or their classmates’ stories to contribute to the classroom library, making sure that meaning is not lost in translation. This could include using metaphors in their home languages that approximate the meaning in the English text
  • creating slideshows that include translated vocabulary, explanations or pronunciation guides
  • creating content for social media. EAL/D learners could be typing in different scripts or transliterating the sounds of their language using English script in social media. Social media users create and access videos, music, stories and memes in a range of languages
  • creating multilingual resources for the school community including signage, welcome packs, teaching and learning resources.

Students can also be supported to create live multimodal texts that reflect the diversity in languages and cultures within the school. For example, to create live multimodal texts, students:

  • use music and gestures from different cultural dance traditions in dance performances
  • create translations to accompany school plays, for example, subtitles in English and/or another language and bilingual glossaries in the program
  • tell a story from their home culture in English, or retell a familiar English story in their home language.

Complex digital multimodal texts include live-action films, animations, digital stories, web pages, book trailers, documentaries, music videos. Meaning is conveyed through dynamic combinations of various modes across written and spoken language, visual (still and moving image), audio, gesture (acting), and spatial semiotic resources. Producing these texts also requires skills with more sophisticated digital communication technologies.

EAL/D learners can incorporate multiple languages into complex digital multimodal texts by:

  • writing the subtitles in English or a different language for films, animations, digital stories or documentaries.  Support students choose the most appropriate language for speech and subtitles, depending on their audience. Visual effects and images can be used to add text in multiple languages for emphasis or explanation.
  • including hyperlinks and mouse-overs are an excellent way for students to provide translations, pronunciation of key terms or a glossary in web pages. Different sections of text can be written in different languages with translations into English, and multilingual audio or video clips may be incorporated. Students can also learn purposeful ways of incorporating computer translation tools into web pages they create
  • incorporating English and home languages into their music videos and song lyrics. These may be accompanied by text or subtitles, or use visual effects to emphasise words or phrases in different languages
  • creating original films, animations and digital stories using voiceover, with or without subtitles.

What teachers and students need to know

The skilled multimodal composition requires students to know the subject or field of the text, textual knowledge of how to best convey meaning through the text; digital multimodal authoring also requires knowledge of the technology and of the processes required to produce innovative digital media productions (Mills, 2010).

Textual knowledge encompasses both semiotic knowledge and genre. Semiotic knowledge concerns how each mode conveys meaning in different ways in the text, where each mode has its specific task and function (Kress, 2010, p. 28) in the meaning-making process.

Multimodal authors also need to be able to imaginatively combine different modes in various strategic arrangements throughout the text, for example, print and visual semiotic resources in a picture book, to effectively and creatively convey the meaning required.

Genre concerns knowledge of the social functions and contexts in which a text is produced and used, and how the text is organised and staged to meet a specific social purpose (Martin, 2008). Like writing, the successful multimodal composition includes consideration of purpose, audience and text type (for example, to entertain, inform, or persuade). 

Technological knowledge concerns knowledge of the technical content as well as of the processes required to produce innovative digital media productions, including knowledge of the machines involved and the media applications (Mills, 2010, p. 224).

Effectively teaching students how to create multimodal texts requires new and diverse literacy skills and semiotic knowledge which, by necessity, extend beyond the realms of traditional print-based literacy into other learning disciplines. 

Literacy teachers need to draw on expertise and knowledge and skills from other disciplines, to support the development of new literacy competencies. This includes essential aspects from The Arts – music, media, drama, film, and art; and from Information Communication Technologies (ICT).

To create multilingual multimodal texts that strategically include elements of EAL/D students’ home languages, students also need to know both the English and the home language (or additional language) features that they want to publish in. This linguistic knowledge does not necessarily have to be comprehensive or formal, but rather appropriate for the purpose and audience of the text. Students working in groups may know different aspects of the language.

Teaching creating multimodal texts: production stages

Teaching creating multimodal texts is based on teaching writing, extended to teaching students how to produce short, purposeful, and engaging texts in different forms and media formats.

Students need to develop increasing control over the different semiotic contributions of each of the modes deployed, and at the same time, attend to creatively combining modes into a meaningful whole (Hull, 2005, p.234). In addition, pedagogic attention to any technical requirements is also essential.

Teaching creating multimodal texts can be structured in stages around the film production approach. This includes pre-production, production, and post-production.


The pre-production stage includes consideration of the topic, the purpose, the audience and the context. The story/content is drafted and organised, and manageable boundaries are established. This includes setting limits to several pages in a picture book, or slides in a PowerPoint or time limits for digital productions – 30 to 90 seconds is long enough for novice podcasts, film or animation productions.

The production process is planned. This might include writing a story outline that provides brief information about who, what, where, and when; a script that includes information about the text participants (characters or subjects), dialogue, action, sound effects, and music; and preparing a storyboard to scope the visual design of the text – what is to be shown and how it will be seen. (See Visual metalanguage for more information.)

Image 1: Storyboard example  (Creative Commons BY-ND 4.0)

For EAL/D students to produce multilingual multimodal texts, they might engage in the pre-production stage using their strongest language to achieve depth in their ideas. This may mean students plan a multimodal text using a storyboard with descriptions in their home language. They can then discuss and refine their ideas with the teacher or other students using English.

If students create multimodal texts that include home languages, they may work with the same language peer, bilingual staff member or parent to check and edit work that will be published. However, the EAL/D student must assume responsibility for discussing and reporting their work in English with peers and the teacher.

The production stage

The production stage is where the text is composed or produced. Production can be a simple process using familiar tools and resources or can involve learning to use more complex digital tools including cameras, recording equipment, or digital applications and software.

Complex media production processes can be simplified for the literacy classroom. For example, a simplified approach to creating live-action films involves an ‘in-camera’ edit. This requires the whole sequence to be carefully planned first. 

Beginning with the title shot, the film is shot in sequence, shot by shot, pausing the camera between shots. Sound effects and additional information must be recorded at the same time as the action. Following the final shot, the film is finished, and there is no further editing or post-production. The same approach can be used recording simple podcasts, as an ‘in-microphone’ edit.

In contrast, a conventional approach to filmmaking/podcast production involves filming or recording the content in segments first and then putting the final text together through post-production.

The teacher may need to explicitly teach EAL/D students the use of the equipment and technical skills needed to capture and create digital multimodal texts. The teacher may provide reference materials with annotated visuals to support students in learning the technical language associated with production skills.

Post-production stage

In the post-production stage filmed shots or recorded audio segments, are edited using a digital editing program to remove sections, order information, and add in introductions, titles, music, visual and sound effects.

The teacher explicitly teaches EAL/D students the technical skills needed to edit and manipulate multimodal texts. In addition to the general editing skills, the teacher may need to find a 'knowledgeable other' to teach students specific multilingual skills such as typing in different scripts or using translation apps.

For more information on EAL/D teaching strategies that support students to produce language and content for their multimodal texts, see Writing Process .

Using the teaching and learning cycle for creating multimodal texts

The teaching and learning cycle (TLC) initially developed for teaching writing and reading provides a logical, systematic process for teaching creating multimodal texts (Zammit, 2015; 2014; Chandler, O’Brien and Unsworth, 2010).

This approach supports teaching students how to successfully create a range of different texts for different purposes and audiences, which communicate the author’s meaning (Miller, 2010, p.214) through attention to meaning design in the different modes deployed.

The teaching and learning cycle focuses on the cyclical nature of the teacher’s role through the various production stages. It includes teacher modelling, and explicit teaching of relevant semiotic knowledge and the metalanguage of meaning-making in different modes, as well as required skills for effective use of any technology, used. 

Textual knowledge, both semiotic and genre, as well as technological knowledge required need to be explicit, stated and incrementally taught (Christie and Macken-Horarik, 2007). Competent digital authoring requires coherent and systemic levels of pedagogical attention and support, in the same ways that writing is taught and valued in schools (Burn, 2006).

The TLC involves four key stages which incorporate social support for creating multimodal texts through varied interactional routines (whole group, small group, pair, individual) to scaffold students’ learning about meaning-making in a variety of modes and texts.

These stages are:

  • Building the context or field – understanding the purpose of the text and the context (genre) and building a shared understanding of the topic
  • Modelling the text (or deconstruction) – the use of mentor or model texts to focus explicitly on the structure of the text, identify the modes used and the different semiotic resources used in each mode, examples of meaning design choices made in different modes, how modes work independently and together to shape meaning and to build a metalanguage
  • Guided practice (or joint construction) – teachers and students jointly construct a text
  • Independent construction – students’ independent composing of a new text. (Derewianka and Jones, 2016; Humphrey, 2017; Humphrey and Feez, 2016)

Mentor or model texts need to be carefully selected by the teacher to support the students to work within their ‘zone of proximal development (Vygotsky 1978) in developing their knowledge of how meaning is conveyed in different modes in different texts. 

Dependent on the year level, the selected text and the teaching focus, whole texts or text extracts can be used. See visual metalanguage for examples of visual semiotic resources, and the teaching and learning cycle for further guidance.

For more information on using the teaching and learning cycle with EAL/D students to create multimodal texts, see: Teaching and learning cycle for EAL/D learners .

Resources to support creating digital multimodal texts

  • Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI): Film it - The filmmakers' tool kit
  • Education Department of Victoria, FUSE : search for Filmmaking 101
  • Education Services, Australia (ESA): Scootle (Search by keywords such as ‘create’, ‘filmmaking’, “comic’, ‘digital story’, ‘poster’, ‘blog’, ‘webpage’, ‘advertisement’; ‘design’. Refine search by year level, and subject area: English.)

Resources to support EAL/D learners to plan, draft, edit and publish in multiple languages include:

  • human resources such as teachers or support staff with knowledge of the language, same language peers or students from other classes, family or community members
  • text resources such as bilingual dictionaries, translation tools and software, publications or websites in the home language, and examples or models of multilingual texts

Teachers scaffold the EAL/D learners to use these resources critically and effectively in creating meaning.

Burn, A., and Durran, J. (2006). Digital anatomies: analysis as production in media education. In D. Buckingham and R. Willett (Eds.), Digital Generations Children, young people, and new media. (pp. 273-293). New York, London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Chandler, P. D., O'Brien, A., and Unsworth, L. (2010). Towards a 3D multimodal curriculum for upper primary school. Australian Educational Computing, 25(1), 34-40.

Christie, F. and Macken-Horarik, M. (2007). Building verticality in subject English, In F. Christie, J.M. Martin. Language, knowledge and pedagogy: functional linguistic and sociological perspectives. London; New York: Continuum. 156-83.

Cope, B., and Kalantzis, M. (2009). A grammar of multimodality. The International Journal of Learning, 16(2), 361-423.

Hull, G. (2005) Locating the Semiotic Power of Multimodality, Written Communication, 22(2), 224-261.

Jewitt, C. (ed.) (2009). The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis, London: Routledge.

Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: a social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London; New York: Routledge.

Martin, J. R., and Rose, D. (2008). Genre relations: mapping culture. London; Oakville, CT: Equinox Pub.

Miller, Suzanne M. (2010). Towards a multimodal literacy pedagogy: Digital video composing as 21st-century literacy. In P. Albers. Literacies, Art, and Multimodality. Urbana-Champaign, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English. 254-281.

Mills, K. A. (2010). What Learners "Know" through Digital Media Production: Learning by Design. E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(3), 223-236.

The New London Group. (2000). A pedagogy of Multiliteracies designing social futures. In B. Cope and M. Kalantzis (Eds.), Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures (pp. 9-38). South Yarra: MacMillan.

Zammit, K. (2015). Extending Students’ Semiotic Understandings: Learning About and Creating Multimodal Texts. In P. P. Trifonas (Ed.), International Handbook of Semiotics (pp. 1291-1308). New York, London: Springer.

Zammit, K. (2014). Creating Multimodal Texts in the Classroom: Shifting Teaching Practices, Influencing Student Outcomes. In R. E. Ferdig and K. E. Pytash (Eds.), Exploring Multimodal Composition and Digital Writing (pp. 20-35). Hershey PA: IGI Global. ​

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  • Prezi Prezi is a great alternative to Powerpoint, which is easy for teachers and students to use.
  • Google Slides With Google Slides, you can create, edit, collaborate, and present wherever you are.
  • Canva Canva is a graphic design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents and other visual content.
  • Microsoft Powerpoint Powerpoint is a tool in which users create a digital slideshow that can contain numerous types of content such as tables, images, drawings, charts, links, word art, videos, audio and even embedded add-ins from Microsoft. The software also has built-in editing tools that you can use to resize, position and update content without needing to open items in other applications.


  • Animoto Animoto is a cloud-based video creation service that produces video from photos, video clips, and music into video slideshows, and customized web-based presentations.
  • iMovie iMovie is a video editing software application developed by Apple Inc. for macOS and iOS devices.
  • VoiceThread With VoiceThread, users can create, share, and comment on images, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, videos, audio files, documents, and PDFs, using microphone, webcam, text, phone, and audio-file upload.
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Chapter 18.3: Multimodal Genres (Websites, Presentations, and Infographics)

Multimodal genres  .

The following chapter illustrates  a few  best practices and  writing  conventions  you can apply while creating  different genres of digital media : websites, presentations, infographics, podcasts, and videos . You may be asked to create   multimodal  texts  like these   while taking your  Composition I and II courses  at CNM.  

Writing for Electronic Media  indicates  you  may have to create websites for professional, personal, or academic reasons.  By f ollow ing  basic guidelines to make your website aesthetically pleasing and well – organized,  you can create a site  that functions well and accomplishes its purpose.  

Apply Aesthetic Design Principles  

Aesthetic design principles include utilizing  relevant photos, graphics, and font variations to  create  interest  in your site .  Another tip is to l eave plenty of white space  because a  crowded web page is not inviting. Use an easily readable font and font size with ample spacing. Small, tight text is hard to read.   

Choose a background that does not distract from the text. Make sure your background does not engulf the text, making it hard to read. As a rule, make your background is light and your text dark. Take care when choosing background effects. A very busy background can detract from your content.  

Organize Your Website  

A website’s ultimate goal is to garner the visitors attention, so p lan for little or no scrolling. Instead include clearly marked navigation links to move to different parts of the information.  Utilize  navigation links to all parts of the website from all pages so a person never feels stuck on a page.  Ultimately your goal is to d esign an overall look that holds from page to page to give your website consistency. Use an easily recognizable format for navigation links so that they clearly stand out.  

Respect Your  Audience’s  Bandwidth  

Utilizing images is a great way to draw interest but they can create issues for the viewer.  Use images that are between forty and one hundred kilobytes to ensure clear images that are easily and quickly loaded on most people’s computers. Since one hundred kilobytes is the maximum suggested size, you will have your best luck if you stay well below that level.   

Don’t add features just to try to make your site impressive. Remember that the more features you add, the more likely it is that someone will have trouble with your site. Some people’s computers will have trouble opening pages that include audio and video. If you choose such an opening page, include an override button for people who can’t or don’t want to view the opening page. Make sure all the links and paths are  obvious  and work smoothly.  

Focus Your Website’s Purpose  

There are so many guidelines to remember   but   focusing on your main purpose is key. M ake sure the home page is uncluttered and clearly states the purpose of the website. This is  your  main chance f or  attracting attention. Make the website as  visual  as possible. The more quickly a person can glance through web content, the more likely the person is to take in the information.   

You can make a site  visual ly appealing and easy to navigate  by including subheadings that stand out, relevant images, short blocks of text, white space between blocks of text, and numbered or bulleted lists. Keep the website up to date. Depending on the content and purpose of the website, keeping it up to date could be a daily, weekly, or monthly chore.  A n out-of-date site ceases to be  visited . Include a contact link so viewers can reach you. Remember that anyone with Internet can access your site. Take care with the information you post. Always assume that  instructors, employers, parents, or friends will see it.  

Adapted from  Writing for Electronic Media  by Brian Champagne, licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License .  

Make Your Website Accessible  

It’s important to create web materials that are accessible to all your audience members.  You can use principles of i nclusive design  to  make your  digital media accessible to everyone regardless of their disabilities or technical limitations. For example, when using images, you should  insert  alternative text  so that images can  be read by screen readers . Another helpful rule: don’t use color alone to make information understandable. Readers who experience difficulty deciphering colors may miss important information on your site.


Whether you are asked to give a presentation for a class you are in or for a job,  you can  make  the presentation aesthetically pleasing  by   illustrating with spoken and written  examples .  

PowerPoint, Google Slides, Prezi.  

Microsoft introduced PowerPoint in 1990, and the conference room has never been the same. Millions were amazed by the speed with which a marketing professional or an academic could put together a consistent, professional-looking slide presentation. And then…  

At some point, somebody with critical thinking skills asked a great question: “Do we really need all these slide shows?” The stock images of arrows, businesspeople in suits, stick figures scratching their heads, and the glowing, jewel-toned backgrounds eventually looked tired and failed to evoke the “wow” reaction presenters desired.  

Microsoft is attempting to refresh the design options for PowerPoint, and there are dozens of good alternatives, some of them free (Keynote, Slide Bureau, Prezi,  SlideRocket , Easel. ly ,  Emaze ,  Slidedog ). But the fundamental problem remains—text-heavy, unfocused, overlong presentations .  If you are sure a visual presentation provide s  something necessary to your audience, keep  your  slides and text  down  to a bare minimum. Think of a slide presentation as a way of supporting or augmenting the content in your talk , but  don’t let the slides replace your content.  

If you had planned to read your slides to the audience, don’t. It’s considered one of the single most annoying things a presenter can do. Excessively small text and complex visuals (including distracting animations) are frequently cited as annoyances.  

Try to design your slides so that they contain information that your viewers might want to write down; for example, good presentations often contain data points that speakers can’t just rattle off or quick summaries of key concepts that viewers won’t be able to make up on the fly. If you can’t explain how the slides add value to your presentation, don’t use them.  

To get a feel for what may annoy your audience, try Googling “annoying PowerPoint presentations.” You’ll  find  a million hits containing helpful feedback and good examples of what  not  to do. And finally, consider designing your presentation to allow for audience participation instead of passive viewing of a slideshow—a good group activity or a two-way discussion is a far better way to keep an audience engaged than a stale, repetitive set of slides.  

Tips for Good Slides

T he guidelines in this chapter and  in   Chapter  18. 2  Design Principles —CRAP in particular—will help you  create  consistent, helpful, and visually appealing slides. But all the design skill in the world won’t help you if your content is not tightly focused, smoothly delivered, and visible. Here are some general tips:  

  • Simplicity is best: use a small number of high-quality graphics and limit bullet points and text.  S lide s are  not   page s   of text  your audience should read.  
  • Break your information up into small bites, and make sure your presentation flows well.  Slides   remind you and the audience of the topic at hand.  
  • Slides should have a consistent visual theme; some pros advise that you avoid using the stock PowerPoint templates, but the Repetition and Alignment aspects of  the design principles know as   C ontrast  R epetition  A lignment  P roximity  (a full definition  of CRAP  is in chapter 18.2)  are so important that if you don’t have considerable design skill, templates are your best bet. You can even buy more original-looking templates online if you don’t like the ones provided with the software.  
  • Choose your fonts carefully. Make sure the text is readable from a distance in a darkened room. Practice good Repetition (the “R” in CRAP) and keep fonts consistent.  
  • Practice your presentation as often as you can. Software is only a tool, and the slide projector is not presenting— you  are presenting.   

11.5 Slides and PowerPoint Presentations  by Allison Gross, Annemarie Hamlin, Billy Merck, Chris Rubio, Jodi Naas, Megan Savage, and Michele DeSilva is licensed under a  CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0  International License, except where otherwise noted.  


What is an Infographic?   

Information + Graphics = Infographics.   

According to the Oxford Dictionary, an infographic is “A visual representation of information or data, for example as a chart or diagram. ‘a good infographic is worth a thousand words.’”    

Additionally, according to Writing Commons, i nfographics do the following:

  • rely primarily on visual language rather than alphabetical language to convey a message   
  • tell a single story or argument in a visually appealing and interesting way   
  • clarify and highlight logical relationships, trends, patterns in data, comparisons of data, and knowledge concepts   
  • communicate in a medium that is informed by principles of Graphic Design, including typography, color theory, Gestalt and/or CRAP design theory.   

Infographics go well beyond using elements of graphic design (e.g., a table, image, graph) to exemplify an important concept. They  replace  traditional purely alphabetical texts by visually telling a story or making an argument about complex data and concepts.   The University  o f Sheffield Library writes that t he human brain is well adapted to processing visual information, which  makes data visualizations and infographics powerful tools for communicating  complex and detailed  information in an easily digestible format.   

Infographic Best Practice   

The mark of a good infographic is its effectiveness in communicating a message concisely and quickly. David McCandless (2010) – data journalist and information designer – describes this as “knowledge compression ”.   

  • See his website: Information is beautiful . 
  • Watch his TED talk: “ The B eauty of  D ata  V isualization. ”    

Creating Infographics  

The P rocess   

  • Choose your topic and ensure it is relevant and engaging. 
  • Define your audience. This will dictate your content depending on their prior knowledge of the topic. 3. Define your aims and objectives to give the infographic purpose and structure. 
  • Research your topic and find images to effectively illustrate your key points. 
  • Organize your information, references and data in a clear and visually appealing design. 
  • Choose a digital tool and get creating.

You don’t need to be a graphic designer or an artist to make effective infographics – there are lots of free online tools available to help you.  

Infographics is adapted from  Communicating with Infographics , from  The University of Sheffield Library ,  licensed under the  Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercialShareAlike  4.0  International License.    

Work Cited  

Infographics .  Writing Commons.  L icensed under the   Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0  International License  

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What Is Multimodal Learning? 35 Strategies and Examples to Empower Your Teaching

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  • Teacher Activities
  • Teaching Strategies
  • Multimodal learning definition
  • Importance of multimodal learning

Multimodal learning strategies

  • 5 Guidelines for creating a multimodal learning environment
  • 5 Examples of multimodal learning activities for the classroom

Even the most confident educational leaders can find themselves asking the same questions, over and over.

Are students listening?

Are they engaged?

Are they learning the way they should?

All kids learn differently, and sometimes it can feel nearly impossible to find a curriculum or plan that works for an entire school. That’s where multimodal learning comes in.

Most schools see hundreds of students every day -- and they all have different learning styles. One student might need as many visuals as possible, while another would swap a picture for a verbal explanation in a heartbeat. Other students need information in multiple formats for concepts to stick. This is why a multimodal approach to education is best.

Wondering what that looks like? Keep reading.

What is multimodal learning?

Multimodal learning in education means teaching concepts using multiple modes .

Modes are channels of information, or anything that communicates meaning in some way, including:

  • Illustrations
  • Writing and print
  • Facial expressions

And much more!

Modes are experienced in different ways by each of the senses — usually visual, auditory or tactile. They often interact with each other, creating a dynamic learning experience. For instance, an educational video might include speech, images, music and text — all of which can enhance a student’s learning experience.

Teachers should combine two or more multimodal learning modes to provide a well-rounded educational experience. Since school environments have diverse student populations with a wide variety of learning styles, a multimodal approach helps each student achieve academic success in their own way.

To properly implement multimodal learning, you first need to understand learning styles .

What are learning styles?

Learning styles group together different ways individuals prefer to learn. They categorize people based on their “style” of learning, or the way they learn best. Every individual has a unique learning preference that falls into one, some or all of these categories.

Consider this scenario :

Imagine someone is explaining a new concept to you, and you’re having trouble understanding them.What will help you understand the best -- is it:

  • Seeing a diagram or illustration about the concept?
  • The person repeating themselves, or explaining things verbally in further detail?
  • Seeing a written explanation?
  • Connecting the concept to a real-life example?

Think about your answer to this question, then consider what your friends or family would pick. Are the answers different?

Many people have different answers and some might wish to choose a combination of them. This is the concept of learning styles, at its core.

The VARK model of learning

There are a few different models to explain learning styles. One of the most popular is the VARK model , created by New Zealand teacher, Neil Fleming .

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VARK model. Image source: Kompas Muda

The subsections of the VARK model are:

  • Visual  -- these people learn best by  seeing , responding to visual cues like images, graphs or charts. They might be distracted by seeing things outside.
  • Aural  -- these people learn best by  hearing , responding to auditory cues like verbal instruction, discussions or songs. They might be distracted by outside noises.
  • Read/Write  -- this is sometimes listed as a subsection of the visual category, but the VARK model puts it in its own category. These people learn best by  reading and writing , responding to written cues like lecture notes, books and cue cards. They might be distracted by poorly worded text, or text that doesn’t match speech.
  • Kinesthetic  -- these people learn best by  doing , responding to tactile cues like movement, actions and real-life examples. They might be distracted by uncomfortable seats or room temperatures.

Students can answer the VARK questionnaire to discover their own learning style. Other personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator , offer more insight into how individuals learn best.

The multimodal learning style

Some people strongly prefer one of the four learning types. But many others have a shared preference among two or more types, making them multimodal learners.

Multimodal learners have a near-equal preference for different learning modes and can receive input from any of these modes. Some multimodal learners, however, are different and require multiple inputs to learn.

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Image source: VARK

A multimodal learning style works most effectively with many communication inputs, or modes. A multimodal learner will thrive in a comprehensive learning environment that uses visual, auditory and kinesthetic inputs -- both verbal and non-verbal -- including videos, images, actions, real-life examples and hands-on activities.

Why is multimodal learning important?

Students come to school with a wide variety of learning styles. As such, the ideal educational experience should represent all modes and support each of these styles.

Multimodality supports a universal design for learning by communicating concepts in the most effective ways and making sure everyone gets exactly what they need. For instance, having:

  • Both text and audio supports reading  and  hearing
  • Images and animation can help focus attention
  • Examples can aid understanding

Multimodal learning can also benefit children and improve abilities. Research from Cisco found students who were given a combination of text and visuals learned better than those who only received text inputs. Compared to the more rigid unimodal learning you might picture when you think of traditional classroom settings, multimodal learning is more effective at teaching .

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Source: Cisco

Similarly,  a study on English language learners found improvements in student writing abilities when they used multimodal learning strategies. Another study found most students prefer to have visual inputs involved in lessons, rather than text alone.

Most interactions are multimodal. There are very few occasions where someone communicates using just one mode, so teaching children should be the same. Using one mode to teach -- for example, reading from a textbook -- doesn’t stimulate students’ minds or prepare them for real world situations.

You know it’s important, but how can you support multimodal learning at your school?

To come up with useful multimodal learning strategies, it’s best to look at the strategies suited for each learning style.

Let's dive into these different strategies that you can use to support each learning style. We'll also explore how students can be encouraged to adjust their own studying to their learning style.

Strategies for visual learners

Teaching strategies for visual learners:

  • Explain key concepts with illustrations or pictures
  • Assign visual projects like art, diagrams or models
  • Use textbooks with plenty of pictures and diagrams
  • Include visual elements in lessons, like slideshows or videos
  • Let students organize their thoughts in flowcharts, diagrams or graphs
  • Color-code assignments or use different font styles to emphasized terms

Study strategies for visual learners:

  • Pick a planner with lots of images and colors
  • Highlight key concepts with color-coded stickers and highlighters
  • Use graphic organizers, charts, diagrams or maps to formulate ideas
  • Create symbols or illustrations to represent important written concepts

Strategies for auditory learners

Teaching strategies for auditory learners:

  • Facilitate group discussions or debates
  • Repeat key concepts as often as possible
  • Leverage audiobooks alongside textbooks
  • Explain content with videos, podcasts or songs
  • Assign speeches, presentations or musical projects
  • Read passages from textbooks out loud or have students read them
  • Review tests and assignments with the entire class before they being
  • Let students take tests in other spaces, where they can read questions out loud

Study strategies for auditory learners:

  • Read your notes, assignments or tests out loud
  • Make songs about key concepts to remember them
  • Record yourself reading class notes and listen to them
  • Organize study groups and discuss course material with classmates
  • Give mock presentations to family, friends or classmates explaining school subjects

Strategies for reading/writing learners

Teaching strategies for reading/writing learners:

  • Sort key concepts into categories and lists
  • Use textbooks with plenty of written explanations
  • Encourage students to write notes during lessons
  • Include detailed explanations on worksheets , quizzes and tests
  • Include multiple choice, short answer and essay questions on tests
  • Provide written statements to explain examples, charts and diagrams

Study strategies for reading/writing learners:

  • Rewrite notes into point-form lists
  • Read notes, slides and textbook chapters
  • Make cue cards and read them to yourself
  • Write your own explanations of key concepts
  • Write down important notes and prompts before presentations or activities

Strategies for tactile and kinesthetic learners

Teaching strategies for kinesthetic learners:

  • Use real-life examples and scenarios
  • Plan field trips for supplemental learning
  • Let students move around or take breaks when working
  • Use gestures, samples or models to explain key concepts
  • Organize experiments so students can work with the things they learn about
  • Assign hands-on projects like multimedia presentations, performances or case studies

Study strategies for kinesthetic learners:

  • Use real pictures and examples in assignments and presentations
  • Do your own experiments or projects to practice concepts from class
  • Come up with real-life examples to help you remember course material

Since the multimodal learning style involves a combination of learning modalities, multimodal learning strategies require strategies from each style. Multimodal learning incorporates multimedia and uses different strategies at once. An ideal multimodal learning environment would incorporate as many of the above strategies as possible.

Let’s look at an example of using multimodal strategies in the classroom.

To help students understand textbook material, a teacher might assign the reading and then give a lecture using a multimedia presentation, including videos and images. Then, they may plan an in-class activity to give real-life perspective and let students engage with the content in more concrete ways.

In this scenario, teachers are simultaneously exposing students to strategies from each learning style! Doing this gives students a well-rounded representation of course material for all learning needs.

5 Guidelines for a multimodal learning environment

Multimodal learning environments support the need for differentiated instruction , considering all learning needs and helping every student succeed.\Follow these five classroom guidelines to create a multimodal learning environment at your school.

1. Use multimodal texts

Multimodal texts are forms of communication that use a variety of modes. They’re seen in multimedia -- a form of content delivery that strategically involves words, visuals, sounds and other components to enrich learners.

For example, a video shown in class should involve captions, images, narration, music and examples to be multimodal.

Students today regularly interact with many different forms of text, so educators should reflect this in their classroom lessons.

As another example, instead of leaning on more traditional, lecture-style math lessons, teachers can use math puzzles to help teach the same concept. The puzzle would be a form of multimodal text that provides interaction and visual stimulation.

Multimodal texts in the classroom could include many other things that contribute to a full learning experience, such as:

  • Infographics
  • Visual worksheets
  • Interactive learning
  • Online learning

Communication aids, such as PECS , are another useful form of multimodal text that let students practice different methods of communication. Traditionally, teachers use PECS to target those with communication difficulties, but they can be beneficial to all students.

2. Reduce overload

Multimodal learning involves interaction with many different inputs at once. If the teacher doesn’t properly organize the output, students can reach overload , becoming overwhelmed, overstimulated and, ultimately, disengaged in class.

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To combat this, multimodal learning plans should be organized and strategic. Multimedia in learning must provide enough stimulation to foster a positive learning environment, but not so much that it overwhelms students. Include every mode, but make sure placement, timing and implementation is thoughtful and considerate of students’ learning.

The best ways to reduce overload are:

  • Consider timing and spacing of multimodal texts  -- Present words and pictures that describe the same concept close to each other and at the same time. This reduces confusion and ensures students can process both forms of input simultaneously, interpreting meaning from the combined sources.
  • Limit distractions  -- Take steps to limit unnecessary outside input so students can focus on the important things. Reduce outside noise and visuals, ensure comfortable seating and avoid strong lighting or smells.
  • Take frequent breaks -- Give students brain breaks every 20 minutes, where they’ll get up and move around with a fun activity to recharge the brain and regain focus.
  • Change activities often  -- A multimodal activity should engage your students, but doing the same activity for too long can get stale. Make sure to switch between different learning formats to keep students interested.
  • Find a good balance  -- Using multiple modes doesn’t mean including everything you possibly can. Inputs that are too busy can become overwhelming for students, so choose a few key components for each mode to keep things simple.

3. Support digital learning opportunities

In today’s society, learning should reflect new digital modes that are used in the real world. Incorporating technology into learning helps teachers and students keep up with an ever-changing landscape of communication, and stimulates multiple senses at once.

Digital platforms are constantly gaining popularity among youth -- and very young children are no exception. A 2021 study by Common Sense found more than 42% of children now own their own smartphone by age 10. Meanwhile, latest insights from Pew Research shows up to 95% of teens have access to a smartphone.

Tablet devices remain most popular among children, with 57% of 8-to-10 year olds in the US owning a tablet.

Line chart showing device usage by type and age.

Image source: Common Sense

New technologies mean new modes of communication for students to adapt to, and educators should include these modes to prepare students for careers in an increasingly digital landscape.

Another study on student engagement and multimodal learning showed student engagement is the biggest motivator for adding educational technologies to the classroom. Technological modes are familiar and engaging to children.

Students are excited about technology and want to use it, so digital learning opportunities are necessary for a well-rounded multimodal learning environment. Some of those ways can include game-based learning , elearning, online research, tests, assignments and much more.

4. Offer multimodal assignments

When teaching is multimodal, assignments and assessments should be, too. The best way to create a positive school culture that encourages two-way communication is to encourage students to use multiple modes in their assignments.

Good multimodal learning is interactive and puts student involvement first -- i.e., learning relies on how students react to the material they learn.

To do this, create dynamic assignments that give students freedom to express their understanding of concepts in many creative ways.

Multimodal assignments -- e.g., guided activities, group projects, reflection exercises, presentations and tests -- get students using multiple modes of communication so they can positively exercise their individual learning styles.

5. Provide multimodal feedback

If teaching and assignments are multimodal, feedback should be too.

To give effective multimodal feedback, you should consider two things:

  • What is being assessed?
  • How are you giving feedback?

When students are free to express their ideas in dynamic ways, criteria for grading should reflect these methods of delivery. The understanding, expression, and use of multimodality should all be part of the grading process. Clear guidelines of expectations on the use of multimedia should be outlined to students in their assignment rubrics.

The feedback process should also reflect multimodality and learning differences. For example, giving a visual learner traditional number grades and written statements won’t have the same impact as visual feedback would.

Although teachers traditionally offer feedback in printed forms, they should also use multimodal formats to reach every student and encourage two-way dialogue.

5 Examples of multimodal learning activities

Now that you know the basics, get inspired by these five examples of multimodal learning in the classroom.

1. Educational games

Almost all games naturally use many modes at once -- words, images, colors, shapes, speech, movement and more. Plus, kids can’t get enough of them. Students have so much fun playing games that they often don’t realize they’re learning at the same time!

Teachers can bring many different games to their classrooms to help students learn and practice relevant skills. For example, after a traditional multiplication lesson, classes can play multiplication games for a fun, multimodal experience that solidifies learning.

Digital game platforms like Prodigy are another great option for classrooms, adding an extra mode to the learning experience: technology.

Prodigy Math is an adaptive math platform that helps students from 1st to 8th grade practice more than 1,500 curriculum-aligned math skills in an engaging, multimodal format.

Used by millions of teachers and students around the world, this interactive game provides:

  • Written questions with visuals
  • Auditory, read-out loud options
  • Adaptive feedback and content
  • A safe, collaborative environment
  • Visual representations (inc. manipulatives)

Since the platform uses multimedia, its educational benefits can reach kids with varied learning styles and support their individual development in math.

Prodigy makes it easy to reinforce in-class lessons and target specific student needs using  differentiated instruction . Plus, the Reports  tool helps teachers track student comprehension, progress and engagement. This means you can quickly access important data to ensure students are supported and able to reach their full potentials. 

It's all available at no cost to educators and schools.

See it in action below:

Students are more confident because of the extra practice they receive with Prodigy. My students typically score higher than others on district screeners and math benchmarks because I am able to individualize and differentiate instruction using the Prodigy reports.  Kimberly Martin  2nd Grade Teacher Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools

2. Think-pair-share

This collaborative learning strategy improves student understanding of material, cooperation with classmates and expression of ideas. It’s also a great method for conducting formative assessments .

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Image source: Giulia Forsythe on Flickr

Think-pair-share follows three simple steps:

  • Think  -- students take time to think about the lesson material individually.
  • Pair  -- students pair up to discuss their ideas and findings with each other.
  • Share  -- each pair shares their thoughts with the class and answers questions from classmates.

Pair students with similar learning styles or put different styles together for more compelling conversations and learning opportunities.  

3. Case-based learning

Use real-life scenarios to introduce or supplement lessons and make relevant connections to school curriculum.

Case-based learning means lessons revolve around actual case studies. Students read, hear or see real examples that relate to the concepts they’re learning in class. Teachers facilitate class discussions about these cases and ensure students are making important connections. To take learning even further, teachers can also assign questions or projects about the cases.

This method gives concrete evidence that the things learned in class are actually useful and meaningful in the real world, motivating students to learn more.

4. Personalized journal entries

Journal entries are a tried-and-true reflection exercise, where students can put class material into their own words and think about what they’ve learned.

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Turn journal entries into a multimodal activity by making them personalized . Let students complete entries in a way that helps them express their thoughts best. This could include written entries, charts, illustrations, videos, podcasts or example stories.

5. Multimedia research projects

Encourage multimodal research with projects that require various sources and modes.

New forms of media are growing in popularity, giving students many avenues to find information. Multimedia research projects require students to find information from different media sources, both traditionally and digitally.

Assign research projects where students must reference at least three different media sources. This can include books, digital libraries, news clips, podcasts and online articles.

Then, have students create multimodal presentations of research findings, in whatever format they choose.

Final thoughts on multimodal learning

When educational environments are optimized for multimodal learning, every student has the opportunity to learn and grow in their own way. Everyday life is filled with multimodal inputs, and the best teaching methods should reflect this variety.  

Remember: every student learns differently. So, a multimodal approach must provide the most relevant and effective modes of communication and options for expression.

Use the above strategies and examples to create a well-rounded multimodal environment at your school. Doing so will help every student reach their highest potential.

Looking for more multimodal learning opportunities at your school?

Try Prodigy — the adaptive curriculum-aligned math platform used by millions of teachers and students around the world.

Teachers can use Prodigy to:

  • Align in-game adventures with classroom lessons
  • Collect insights into student progress and learning gaps
  • Send differentiated content and Assessments in just a few clicks


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