The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 1 - Page 17

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replaced every few years, especially when several groups of students use them continuously. Printed books also require storage and organization, which takes up valuable classroom space and time from the teacher. Over the years, I have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars purchasing books that become missing or worn out. I have also spent hours at bookstores and garage sales searching for printed books that were appropriate for my students and affordable. 21st century multimodal texts have addressed these issues and lifted many constraints associated with the use of printed books during instruction.

What are potential pitfalls of using multimodal texts?

21st century multimodal texts are digitally based, and technology does not always work appropriately. I have experienced a few times when I had to adapt my instructional plan due to technological issues. My campus and school district work hard to address these problems as quickly as possible; however, teachers must remain flexible when things do not go as planned.

A lack of available technology within the school may also pose a problem for teachers who want to use 21st century multimodal texts. In my school, access to the computer lab has sometimes influenced my inclusion of 21st century multimodal texts during instruction. While technology at my campus is available, it is limited. In order to increase my students’ access to 21st century multimodal texts, I have personally purchased tablets for my classroom, but these are not available to other classes to use. Moreover, one of the two computer labs at my school is used for tutorials and curriculum progress monitoring. With only one computer lab available for instructional use, it can be challenging to schedule computer lab time for creative projects. Although schools encourage teachers to implement 21st century literacies during instruction, many teachers do not have a strong background with these literacies. Many teachers I know are still not comfortable with digital tools. Similar to a literacy lesson rooted in traditional literacies, use of 21st century multimodal texts requires proper instructional planning and delivery. Moreover, digital tools are not intended to remove responsibilities associated with teaching, such as showing students a video while the teacher grades papers. Rather, a 21st century approach to literacy instruction requires a specific set of knowledge and skills for both teachers and students. In order to address 21st century literacies effectively, teachers must broaden their pedagogical understandings.

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