BreMM17 | Lamb & Gallagher

James Lamb & Michael Sean Gallagher
University of Edinburgh | UK

Multimodality Mobile Learning in Bremen

In this paper-as-performance we will undertake an unrehearsed group walk – a ‘multimodal dérive’ – during BREMM17. Through this exercise we intend to demonstrate that bringing together multimodality and mobile learning provides valuable opportunities for investigating our relationship with the urban, which in turn provokes questions about the social, cultural and political issues of our time. Instead of a conventional paper, our contribution will take place in the street and with an attention to the full of range semiotic material from which emerge impromptu sites for learning (Sharples et al., 2009).

Our excursion will also make the case for a nuanced understanding of ‘the digital’ within multimodal research. By using our mobile devices to navigate and record a path through the city we will challenge the dualistic binary that conceptualises technology either as driver of change or tool for conveying meaning. Instead, our experience will re-iterate the co-constituting nature of human and technology, which in turn asks questions about how we gather and understand multimodal data in an increasingly digital world.

While Kress and Pachler (2007) have recognised the compatibility of multimodality and mobile learning, little work has sought to exploit any conceptual and methodological common ground. By bringing multimodality in-step with mobile learning we will draw attention to the way that our understanding of the city exists at the intersection of an assemblage of human and non-human actors. This includes our personal interests and histories, the opportunities and limitations presented via code and algorithm within our technological devices, and a wider sphere of resources that shape our experiences at a moment in time: weather, hunger, traffic, time. Using conceptual work by De Souza e Silva & Frith (2013), we see urban space not as static containers of meaning waiting to be analysed, but rather as relational to an assemblage of agencies that go beyond what can be seen, heard and touched.


De Souza e Silva, A., & Frith, J. (2013). Re-narrating the city through the presentation of location. The Mobile Story: Narrative Practices with Locative Technologies, London, NY: Routledge.
Kress, G. & Pachler, N, (Eds.) (2007). ‘Mobile Learning: Towards a Research Agenda’. WLE Centre, Occasional Papers in Work-based Learning 1. Available at: mobilelearning_pachler_2007.pdf
Sharples, M., Arnedillo-Sánchez, I., Milrad, M., & Vavoila, G. (2009). Mobile learning: Small devices, big issues. In N. Balacheff,, S. Ludvigsen, T. De Jong, A. Lazonder, S. Barnes, & L. Montandon (Eds.), Technology-Enhanced Learning (pp. 233-249). Berlin, Germany:Springer.

Bibliographical Note

James Lamb is a Doctoral student interested in multimodal assessment and the use of multimodal methods to investigate learning and urban spaces.
Dr Michael Sean Gallagher is a researcher working in mobile learning, multimodality and digital education.

(all Centre for Research in Digital Education, University of Edinburgh, UK.)

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