Digitalized story making in the classroom : a social semiotic perspective on gender, multimodality and learning
The article takes the case of pupils in a fifth-year primary school class (10-11 years old) who use text and pictures in their creative writing on the classroom computers. The study confirms what the research literature indicates, that girls show more interest than boys in writing and storytelling, while boys show greater interest than girls in using computer technology. Social semiotics is used as a theoretical basis for analysing the connection between these differences and relating them to what girls and boys learn. In a social semiotic perspective, learning can be related to the experience of the difference between what we intend to express and what we actually manage to express or mean. In the article, it is argued that social semiotics provides a theoretical basis for asserting that the girls in this case learn more than the boys because they associate themselves with the signs they use through more choices than the boys. The girls, we could say, put their own mark on the signs by coding or creating them themselves while the boys tend more to choose ready-made signs. Ready-made signs require fewer choices than the signs we make or code ourselves. Fewer choices means less experience of the difference between what we wish to mean and what we actually mean, and hence less learning. A pedagogical consequence of this is that boys may be better served by having online work with multimodality of expression organised in such a way that it combines as far as possible the use of ready-made signs with signs they code or create themselves.