Shrek Meets Vygotsky: Rethinking Adolescents' Multimodal Literacy Practices in Schools




Recent research has emphasized the multimodal and digital nature of adolescent literacy practices. These practices cross multiple social spaces, particularly settings outside of schools. This article re-examines current research to yield three caveats that counter assumptions about the pervasiveness, relevance, and spontaneity of youths' multimodal practices in the digital communications environment: (1) It is incorrect to assume that today's adolescents are all “digital natives” (2) Engaging adolescents in multimodal textual practices must involve more than conforming the curriculum to their interests and practices—it should extend students' repertoire of skills and genres; and (3) Although some new multimodal practices are taken up by adolescents with minimal instruction in informal contexts, greater emphasis should be placed on expert scaffolding of these literacies in school settings.