Mediated focalisation in video explanations: Implications for the communication of architecture and STEM

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Linguistics and Education


In 2019–2020, students of two English for Architects and Civil Engineers courses at a German university were tasked with creating a digital, multimodal video composition explaining a technical concept to a lay audience. The resultant multimodal artefacts, however, often did not exhibit typical semiotic patterns associated with explaining or describing in science-related disciplines. In particular, 78% of artefacts featured ‘mediated focalisation’, a framing technique used to align the composer with their audience and more commonly associated with fictional narrative or social media. The paper describes how this framing technique appeared in the artefacts and explores how and to what effect it was used. It will unpack the implications of using this technique for the performance of professionalism and ‘authenticity’ in architecture and STEM communication. A subsystem of mediated focalisation techniques and a new ‘coding orientation’ will be proposed, so that educators may better prepare students for these emergent shifts.

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