Making the Inaccessible Accessible: Online Multimodal Teaching Genres

Proposal Title: 
Making the Inaccessible Accessible: Online Multimodal Teaching Genres

When many teachers initially teach online, they mistakenly attempt to transfer materials developed for a f2f domain directly into their online course. However, online and f2f instruction should be considered as different genres of teaching. When teaching online, many instructors are electing to develop new, different materials that are uniquely suited for the online domain. Through this work, I’ll establish the benefits of a multimodal pedagogy, specifically the benefits of creating more accessible teaching and learning materials and developing a richer opportunity for students to develop a teacher’s presence.


Within online learning scholarship, specifically within online writing instruction (OWI) scholarship, two opposing views exist associated with preparing to teach online exist. Some scholars advocate applying practices from f2f teaching into the online domain, referred to as migration by the CCCC’s OWI committee (Warnock; Reinheimer); others argue that OL and f2f are so different that f2f approaches to teaching cannot be incorporated into OWI (Cook & Grant-Davie; Hailey, et al.; Hewett “Generating”; Hewett, et al.; Savenye, Olina and Niemcyzk).

In practice, however, as demonstrated through the OWI Report, “Teachers […] typically are simply migrating traditional face-to-face writing pedagogies to the online setting” (7). Unfortunately, online teaching methods that are migrated from a f2f domain may actually do more harm than good, inadvertently limiting the accessibility of the course. By examining one, of many, unique online teaching genres, I’ll demonstrate the importance of approaching the online course as its own unique, separate multimodal activity system.

In this presentation I will draw on a body of scholarship from OWI, Rhetorical Genre Studies, and Mulitmodal Communication Theory in order to analyze the genre of the video syllabus as a unique mechanism for breaking those migration patterns that have previously been limited to f2f classes. By applying rhetorical genre theory and multimodal communication theory to OWI as a separate activity system from f2f instruction—indeed as a separate set of multimodal genres —teachers might learn to approach OWI from more appropriate pedagogical perspectives. 

The 2011 State-of-the-Art of OWI Report demonstrates that migration is a primary method for preparing to teach online writing courses.This proposal begins to help online teachers better differentiate the unique needs of teaching in an online domain, with hopes of rethinking the practice of migration of f2f teaching materials and pedagogies to the OL domain.
Proposal Type: