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Some interesting multimodal political posters and grafitti

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 16 Sep 2021, 23:08

The course L101 has a Block on language and society and this obviously involves some discussion of language and politics and political protests.  I have recently seen some quite interesting posters and pieces of grafitti in Bristol that reflect the political and social situation.

The first one is subverting some of the advice about recommended behaviour to avoid contracting Covid.  This means it is making an intertextual link to texts most people who pass it will have seen and slogans like "face, space, hands."

A poster about racism

The second multimodal text is a piece of grafitti that also makes use of an assumed knowledge that Mussolini was known as "Il Duce".  This has been changed to "Il Dunce" with the use of "dunce" suggesting that Johnson is even less intelligent than Mussolini.

A pictureof Boris Johnson's face with the caption "Il Dunce"

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Voice messages on WeChat

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 4 Mar 2021, 13:57

I notice that several ex students and colleagues contact me on WeChat by voice message rather than written messages and I wonder why this is.  Do they think it is easier to speak than compose a message?  It seems less convenient to me as the receiver as they cannot be processed as quickly.

This is a contrast to many of my OU tutorials where many students seem keener to use text chat than the microphone.

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A creative notice on a shop

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 4 Aug 2020, 21:58

I saw the following poster yesterday and it links to some of the themes of some English language courses at the Open University.  The use of « the thing » rather than Covid is perhaps euphemistic but is perhaps also an inter textual link to the film of the same name.

The picture from the film Betty Blue is also a link to the product of the shop - it rents videos and also arranges for small scale screenings of films.  The reference to Betty Blue might also relate to the use of a French phrase at the end.

A poster on a video shop

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Intensity and online tutorials

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Last Saturday, I had two online tutorials and was again struck by how intense they seem to be compared to face to face teaching.  There were several instances that struck me in this regard.

In the first tutorial, there were originally three students.  One suddenly disappeared and I was left wondering why that was.  She has not written since to explain so I am left slightly mystified.  Did she have technical problems?  If so, why not write to explain?  Did she think she was not getting what she wanted? 

Then during the rest of the tutorial, there were two students.  I know one quite well as he is in my tutor group and we have met face to face.  This means I feel comfortable pitching content to his level and interests.  We can refer back to previous conversations, his TGF contributions and assignments.  The other student was unknown to me which means I was having to react to any clues I could obtain about whether what I was doing was too quick/slow, complex/simple and my judgements were not helped by the way she was keener to use the textbox facility than speak.  She was also influenced by the way her family was in the room and sometimes this would presumably have affected her concentration.  My student was very sensitive to the dynamics and was keen to not dominate and eventually, it seemed like there was useful discussion and learning taking place.

The group for the afternoon tutorial was larger and this in some ways led to even greater diversity.  Three students only used text box chat and one of these hardly even used that and so I have no idea whether she obtained anything useful from the tutorial as I have no clue about her starting level and level of understanding of what we did.  However, the three who did use the microphones were engaged. I had not met any of the students before but one was in my tutor group so I did know something about her.  It seemed like we were able to do work where the students discussed issues in quite an exploratory way.  There was use of speech and text boxes as well as the drawing tool in the whiteboard so there was a rich multimodal communication.

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Creativity in communication between a baby and his father

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 14 Oct 2019, 19:57

This tweet received wide attention recently and it seemed to relate to issues on some of the courses I teach:


Some key points that seem to emerge are:

- the interactional function is key here.  It is not clear what the baby is expressing and if he understands what his father is saying (it is doubtful that he understands much of the informational content) but there seems to be a strong communication of fellow feeling, companionship here

- the communication is multimodal as the two of them use gestures to accomapany what they say

- they often mirror the gestures

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Associate Lecturer Assembly

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Friday, 23 Nov 2018, 10:03

I have been spending the day at the Associate Lecturer Assembly.

There was a brief talk by Mary Keller, the Acting Vice Chancellor, followed by a more extended discussion.  She was persuasive and quite inspiring in some ways.  She seems very committed to the vision of the Open University making a difference to students’ lives.  She also seems flexible about ways of working, including the continuance of face to face as well as online tuition.  I certainly feel more optimistic about the OU’s future than under the previous VC.

We were also updated on the prospect of an AL contract.  There has been discussion of the for nearly two decades but it now looks more likely than at any previous time.  This should make the position of tutors more secure.

In the afternoon, there was an interesting talk by Cath Brown, President of the Open University Students Association.  We discussed the issue of whether we thought we should encourage students to use microphones rather than text chat in online tutorials.  I tend to think it should depend on context but the widespread use of text chat in online tutorials can be useful but is very tiring for the tutor if they need to speak and monitor and in these cases, tutorials should be kept to one hour in length.

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Profile pictures

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Wednesday, 18 May 2016, 14:18

I am quite intrigued by the kinds of profile pictures people have on sites like the OU site, Facebook, LinkedIn.  I notice the following main patterns.

1 A simple face picture, facing the camera.

2 An action shot doing some kind of relevant activity,  My current picture does this by showing me teaching.

3 A picture of the person as part of a group.

4 A symbolic picture (eg of a flower).

5 A picture of the person next to something significant (eg a statue).

It seems that these are all representative of how the person wants to present themselves and we may have different pictures for different sites.  For example, my non professional twitter account has a picture of me running in a 10K.

What intrigues me particularly are pictures that seem to break some of the rules.  An ex-student (not at the OU) has a profile picture on a professional website  that is taken from the side with her looking at her mobile phone with most of her face covered by her long hair.  I wonder about the extent to which this is a conscious decision and if so, what she is trying to express by this choice.

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Multimodal specialist forum

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I am currently involved in moderating the E852 multimodality forum.  This has always been an  interesting experience and we are currently discussing some political manifestos.  However, I reflected on how little I use multimodal affordances in this blog and have the following hypotheses for why this is:

- perhaps I do not think in a very visual way

- I tend to post fairly frequently but quickly

- my posts tend to be quite short.

I suspect the latter two are the main reasons.

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"Intensity" in OU Live

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The term "intensity" came up in an OU Live session yesterday where some students commented on how busy the tools.  They commented on how they were listening, speaking and also writing in the text box as well as reading the comments and looking at the whiteboard.

It is hard for the tutor and the participants to follow some of the strands that are going on.  I suppose there is a tendency to ensure that the sessions are seen as being valuable.

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sign language and communication

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An article from "The Guardian" about sign language and the importance of members of the family being able to communicate with each other:


This overlaps with some E852 themes such as multimodality and learning through language.


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