The Bloomsbury Colleges | PhD Studentships | Studentships 2013 | Multimodal Design and Interaction in Online Language Learning Platforms: Exploring Communication, Pedagogy and Identity
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Multimodal Design and Interaction in Online Language Learning Platforms: Exploring Communication, Pedagogy and Identity

Principal supervisor: Professor Carey Jewitt (Institute of Education)

Co-supervisor: Dr Jeff Bezemer (Institute of Education) and Professor Li Wei (Birkbeck College)

This project is an innovative ethnographic investigation of an increasingly important and popular language-learning environment, namely the online language learning platforms (OLLPs). OLLPs allow members to learn languages in online multimodal environments, with the support of other members of the community. Their distinct design (involving speech, writing, image, colour, sound, moving image, gesture) produces new and increasingly popular contexts for language learning. Among the most widely used OLLPs are currently, and Taking the OLLP as an illustrative example of contemporary communication in online multimodal environments the study aims to render visible social change and its effects on language use.

The project objectives are to:

1. Provide a sociolinguistic mapping of language use in OLLPs;

2. Provide a semiotic mapping of the multimodal design of OLLPs;

3. Explore implications of OLLPs for language learners and teachers both inside and outside these learning environments;

4. Contribute to the development of methods for researching online environments.

The study will draw on social semiotic and sociolinguistic frameworks. The social semiotic framework will inform the multimodal analysis of the platform interface, focusing on the affordances of design features for communication, learning and pedagogy (Jewitt, 2008; Bezemer & Kress, 2008). The sociolinguistic framework will inform the analysis of language use, focusing on the negotiation on linguistic norms and ideologies in interaction (Li Wei, 2011; Blommaert, 2005).

Candidate Requirements

Minimum of an upper second class honours degree and Master's degree in applied linguistics, TESOL, education or other relevant area.

Key References

Bezemer, J. & G. Kress (2008). Writing in Multimodal Texts: a Social Semiotic Account of Designs for Learning. Written Communications 25, 2, 166-195

Blommaert, J. (2005). Discourse. Cambridge: CUP

Jewitt, C. (2008) Technology, Literacy and Learning: A Multimodal Approach. London: Routledge.

Li Wei (2011) Moment analysis and translanguaging space. Journal of Pragmatics. 43: 1222-1235

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Principal supervisor: Carey Jewitt,,

Co-supervisors: Jeff Bezemer,, & Li Wei,,

Further information about PhDs at the Institute of Education is available from:

Application forms and details about how to apply are available from:

Please contact Alison Freeman, DTC Co-ordinator/Scholarships Office,, for the Bloomsbury Colleges PhD Studentships Application form and Information for Candidates.

Application Requirements:

1. Bloomsbury Colleges PhD Studentships Application form

2. A personal statement indicating how your qualifications, experience and research interests make you a suitable candidate for your chose scholarship

3. Transcripts of your undergraduate and (where applicable) postgraduate qualifications

4. Two confidential referees

5. A piece of academic writing, such as an essay, dissertation or article.

Closing date for applications is Friday 8 March 2013