Composing engaging content is difficult no matter the medium, but technology offers affordances that not only make it much easier, but also open up possibilities not allowed by traditional texts. With tools like links, images, and online content platforms, we can make our writing responsive and dynamic in a way that immediately immerses the reader.
By bringing Engagement to digital multimodal assignments we can take full advantage of the affordances that digital literacy and composition offer us. A paper spread across a website with links forcing the reader to decide which part they want to read next. A visual project that not only presents the viewer with an argument, but encourages them to upload their own photo. A story with multiple endings. A comment feature on a series of video clips.
By asking students to use digital multimodality’s affordances to think of ways to encourage their reader, viewer, or listener to respond, another level of thought is added to their own process and, hopefully, increasing the student’s engagement as well as the reader’s.
Responsive, Reactive, Based on Choice, Changeable, Dialogical.
A dynamic digital text creates meaning dialogically by reacting to each decision the reader makes. By giving readers choice, composers must think about how they can use the modes offered by digital texts to encourage readers to respond in a specific way. Reader and composer choice becomes an integral part of both the meaning and function of the text which creates a text that is not just changeable for the composer but also changeable for the reader. Every reader may choose to read the text in a different way or order. Additionally, boundaries for digital texts do not exist. There is nothing keeping a digital multimodal text fixed, or even finished. Writers can continue to change, adapt, and expand their work long after it has been uploaded and published.
A multimodal digital text becomes immersive when it thoughtfully employs interactive modes to immediately and continuously engage the reader with its content. Encouraging composers to think about how they can use digital modes to invite the reader into the text in helps writers create more engaging and effective digital content. Just as with dynamic and non-linear texts, reader and composer choice is integral to creating an immersive text. By giving readers a choice of what and how they want to read the text, they become part of the meaning-making making the text more immersive and engaging. The interactivity that is built into the structure of digital texts, works to bring the reader in and make them a part of the digital story.
Interactive, Inviting, Connective, Changeable.
Modular, Transmodal, Re-Framed, Connective, Open.
A multimodal digital text that is engaging embraces the non-linearity essential to the digital medium and provides the reader with choice. Modular texts that are broken up into smaller sections can be read in any order the reader chooses which opens the text up, rather than fixes it in a specific order. Engaging digital composition can also employ non-linearity by being composed across multiple platforms. Taking a text transmodal by combining social media, blogging, and imaging platforms can increase the engaging elements of the text by further extending choice to the reader. The reader not only can choose the order they read the content, but also on what platform which continues to increase the level of engagement. Taking advantage of the non-linear affordances of digital multimodality can create a text “re-framed” by different modes and platforms that work together to create connective meaning.
Engagement in the field of Rhetoric and Composition
Daniel Eyman created a digital version of his book, Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, and Practice, where readers can make highlights and comments that other readers can see.
Kendra Andrews narrates her article about “sketch noting” as a tool for generating ideas while Mark Bentley illustrates her words.