Animating science: Activating the affordances of multimedia in teaching

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Teaching Science: Knowledge, Language, Pedagogy


Multimedia such as animations are increasingly common in science teaching. Existing research overwhelmingly focuses on developing principles for designing multimedia that support cognitive processing of information. This chapter meets an urgent need to foreground teaching and knowledge in order to develop pedagogic principles for teaching multimedia that support learning science. To do so, the chapter extends existing limited uses of the notion of ‘affordance’ to examine how the knowledge practices expressed by multimedia relate to those central to specific classroom tasks. These epistemic affordances are revealed through an innovative form of autonomy analysis that shows how the diverse elements of complex multimedia objects relate to the contents and purposes of specific classroom tasks. In-depth analyses of two contrasting examples of science teaching with animations show the pedagogic work required to integrate such multimedia and how Legitimation Code Theory offers a way of getting to grips with these complex objects in real-world contexts.

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