An exploration of children's experiences of interactive multimedia text : a case study
Being ‘literate’ in the twenty-first century now involves more than encoding and decoding typographic text. Understanding of multimodal literacy is still in its infancy although children are widely considered to be experienced in this form of communication. This research project will contribute to the understanding of education professionals in this area by examining the contemporary phenomena of children's experiences of interactive multimedia text. In particular it will examine how children interact with these texts and discuss the ways in which pedagogic practice may respond to developments in multimodal forms of communication. The research project encompasses elements of literary theory, the notion of ‘new literacies, narrative construction, human computer interaction (HCI), games technology and multimedia design. A case study approach has been adopted with a range of data sources providing a richly-textured opportunity for studying the phenomena. A mixed method approach involving a questionnaire, focus group discussions, the analysis of multimedia texts and observations of children's experiences of these texts was employed. The complex phenomenon of children's interactions with multimodal texts was recorded using software originally designed for usability testing. This is an original and undocumented method of capturing data for research new literacies and also constitutes a contribution to knowledge with respect to data collection techniques. The empirical evidence of children's experience of interactive multimedia texts indicates that there is a significant difference between children's experience at school and at home. At home, children use a wide range of multimedia texts through the use of computer games but at school they have a very limited experience. The analysis of data from this research project also suggests that claims regarding the existence of 'digital natives' with respect to computer games is not entirely supported. Collectively, children have greater experience of computer games at home yet there are significant variations in between individual children. The analysis of children's interactions with multimedia texts also suggests that a revised understanding of 'literacy' is developed and multimodal-rich literature is provided for use in the school.