2.2 Interpreting Websites in Educational Contexts: A Social-Semiotic, Multimodal Approach

  • Emilia DjonovEmail author
  • John S. Knox
  • Sumin Zhao
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This chapter reports on three research projects concerned with websites. All three have adopted a social-semiotic, multimodal approach (cf. Halliday, M. A. K. (1978). Language as Social Semiotic. London: Arnold; Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. Oxon: Routledge; Kress G., & Van Leeuwen, T. (2001). Multimodal discourse: The modes and media of contemporary communication. London: Arnold, Kress, G., & Van Leeuwen, T. (2006 [1996]) Reading images: The grammar of visual design (2nd edn). London: Routledge) and developed new tools for understanding the complexity of website design and its implications for educational contexts. They have focused, however, on different challenges and types of hypermedia: (i) user orientation within websites for children, (ii) knowledge construction in online educational interactives for children, and (iii) news design in online newspapers and the literacy demands online newspapers present for TESOL and applied linguistics students. This paper opens by outlining the common starting point of all three projects in relation to the data – treating websites as meaningful texts. It then proceeds to consider differences in the questions and types of websites explored in each study, and how these differences have influenced the way social-semiotic multimodal tools for analysing the data have been developed in each study and complemented with other tools for collecting and analysing data (e.g. interviews with website users, designers and media practitioners). The paper concludes with a brief discussion of challenges that websites continue to present for educational research.


Online Newspaper Pedagogic Discourse Navigation Path Applied Linguistic Semiotic Resource 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Early Childhood, Faculty of Human SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Human SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of Arts and Social ScienceUniversity of Technology, SydneySydneyAustralia

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