Multimodal profusion in the literacies of the Massive Open Online Course

Jeremy Knox, Siân Bayne


This paper takes a view of digital literacy, which moves beyond a focus on technical methods and skills in an attempt to maintain a broader approach that encompasses a critical view of the learning subject. In doing this, we consider socio-materialism and its relation to aspects of literacy theory. We anchor the discussion in a consideration of the ‘E-learning and Digital Cultures’ Coursera MOOC, which provided a tangible setting for theorising some of the practices of digital literacy differently. The profusion of multimodal artefacts produced in response to this course constituted a complex series of socio-material entanglements, in which human beings and technologies each played a constituent part. Two specific digital artefacts are analysed according to these terms. We conclude that socio-material multimodality constitutes a different way of thinking about digital literacy: not as representational practices, but rather as multifaceted and relational enactments of knowledge, specific to particular contexts and moments.

Keywords: digital literacy; multimodal; socio-material; MOOC; enactment

(Published: 31 January 2014)

Citation: Research in Learning Technology 2014, 21: 21422 -


digital literacy; multimodal; socio-material; MOOC; enactment

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