Exploring the processes and products of collaborative multimodal writing in a French as a foreign language class
This chapter begins with a general overview of collaborative multimodal writing which arose in response to the social turn (Trimbur, 1994) and visual turn (Li & Storch, 2017; Purdy, 2014) in writing studies occurring during this decade. A plethora of empirical evidence indicates that collaborative writing (CW) fosters language negotiation and mutual scaffolding (Li & Zhu, 2013; Storch, 2019; Swain & Lapkin, 1998) and improves writing development (Bikowski & Vithanage, 2016; Strobl, 2014). Meanwhile, multimodal writing (MW) heightens students’ awareness of the metafunctions of semiotic modes (Shin & Cimasko, 2008; Shin et al., 2020), improves their multiliteracy skills, motivation and autonomy (Hafner, 2014, 2015; Jiang & Luk, 2016; Yi & Angay-Crowder, 2016), and affords multiple opportunities for self-expression, identity development, and language development (Belcher, 2017; Jiang et al., 2020; Vandommele et al., 2017). Despite flourishing research on CW and MW in L2 contexts, little research has explored CMW using digital technologies (Smith, 2019). A collaborative approach towards digital multimodal texts is likely to foster the development of learners’ collaborative skills and L2 digital literacy skills, both considered indispensable for learners to complete authentic tasks in the digital world (Li & Zhang, 2021). Therefore, our study aims to examine how French FL learners in a university Elementary French class jointly produce MW via Google Docs, focusing on both writing processes and products. To echo the themes of this book (e.g., contextualization and socialization), this chapter also discusses how technologies are adopted and writing tasks are devised to meet learners’ needs in the specific context; how technologies and learning environments afford meaningful interaction, particularly interaction amongst learners. The chapter concludes by re-addressing the “smartness”-related themes, pedagogical implications, and future research directions.