J Eng Teach Movie Media > Volume 23(2); 2022 > Article
Kim: Affordances for Multimodal Composition Using an eBook Trailer With Transmedia Storytelling*


The aim of this study is to examine how one mode can transform into different modes by reproducing the writers’ cognitive perceptions based on transmedia storytelling. This was done using a minute-long eBook trailer created through the program Animoto. This article explores affordances for four different modes—texts, images, music, and space—as well as Animoto, a digital tool, in digital multimodal composition. The participants were 136 Korean EFL students from a Korean university whose CEFR level was mostly A2-B1. The data were gathered from their eBook trailer creating process, a questionnaire, and an individual interview. This study found that images, texts, music, and space are important considerations in constructing meaning in sequence but combining more than one mode offers better learning effects for writing. The participants’ reactions were that Animoto is a good fit for digital composition and computer skills are essential in digital writing. There was a preference for digital compositions with various modes over traditional text-based writing since they deemed traditional text alone to be limited in transmission. The results suggest that implementing a digital tool with effective guidelines for various modes is a good way to compose digital eBook trailers that help EFL learners to write.


Information and communication technologies provide multimodal learning environments that allow English learners to consider various modes including text, graphics, and audio to convey meanings. They can bring about multiliteracies comprised of semiotic modes, which can present linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, and spatial elements (New London Group, 1996). Multiliteracies require a set of information skills applied to text and multimedia information that can be created, shared, socialized, and researched through internet access (Gilster, 1997). Since there has been considerable research on the presentation of learning resources from diverse perspectives, it is important to understand effective interaction between modes and writers’ perceptions (Selwyn & Facer, 2007). According to Gibson (1979), affordances can be defined as writers’ reactions based on how they perceive objects when they interact with them in learning environments. In this sense, understanding affordances towards a diversity of modes is crucial since it can represent a writer’s perspective in digital writing.
Bezemer and Kress (2008) pointed out that forms of writing, particularly in learning resources, have changed profoundly over the last few decades since digital media has appeared. Multimodal composition offers an opportunity to explore affordances that can be defined as semiotic modes to facilitate learners’ engagement to a world with various possibilities (Kress, 2000). However, Bezemer and Kress (2008) argued that the specific affordances of modes often conflict with their own interest since translations are made of one or more ensembles of modes. Similarly, one’s ideas can be presented disparately using variously modes to form meaning from the same plot. In the same vein, semiotic modes can carry constrains for making meaning since each mode has different effects to represent, and a writer’s reaction may be various to perceive the meaning. Although considerable research has examined presentation in learning resources from diverse perspectives and effects from different modes, there is not enough research on affordance for how language learners can react differently while transforming one mode into various other modes with a digital tool. Therefore, exploring salient modes and the effectiveness of multimodal representation becomes indispensable for multimodal digital composition.
With these viewpoints in mind, this article investigates affordances for how English learners react differently to the same modes when they transform text to other modes for delivering their own meanings. In order to explore how language learners interpret various modes differently, this study applies transmedia storytelling through eBook trailers for multimodal composition. Jenkins (2006) defined transmedia storytelling as a particular narrative structure that contains numerous alternate interpretations from the same version of the event. It is possible to expand different modes, such as text, comics, or video games, and unfold different sequences as well as frames for each audience, so that it leads to the participants’ authorship (Kustritz, 2014).
In addition, creating eBook trailers is a cinematographic technique (Sala & Valios, 2016) through which learners can create multimodal composition using various modes. Although an eBook trailer has often been used for reading practice, it can develop competence and encourage motivation for writing as well since it implies other ways to connect to the texts (Talyor, 2011) and promotes multimodal literacy based on the learners’ own interpretations from the text to different modes. In the converting process, there is an assumption that using a digital tool may affect digital composition when constructing meaning. Therefore, this study also tries to examine the effect of one online digital program on affordances.
This study investigates affordances for four different modes, text, image, music, and space, Animoto, and the participants’ perceived benefits regarding the process of their multimodal eBook trailers. It also explores how eBook trailers can be implemented into a text-based composition for effective multiliteracy. This study tries to suggest that implementing a digital tool with effective guidelines for various modes to compose digital eBook trailers helps EFL learners to write.


1. Affordances for Modalities and Digital Tools in Multimodal Writing

Multimedia modalities are different from traditional texts in online settings since digital tools transform the text into different forms. Jewitt (2005) argued that multimodal transmissions occur when a writer interacts with modes to shape the processes of meaning making. Hence, the writers’ modal choice is intricately tied to their identities, contexts, and purposes (Curwood, 2012). Kaplan (1995) posited that the effects of the affordances for different modes have focused on disparate cultural aspects, so the language learner’s own perspective and interpretation of modes can be important features in delivering meaning in digital composition.
Moreover, multimodal composition accompanies transformation and transduction processes as pivotal actions since it requires shifting semiotic resources within a mode and reconstructing semiotic resources across modes (Kress, 2003, 2009; Oskoz & Elola, 2016). With the importance of this notion, many studies have highlighted affordances in multimodal writing. Kimber and Wyatt-Smith (2008) introduced the concept of transmodal operation, which explains a new way to develop a multimodal text to describe how student work includes e-proficiency, content, cohesion, and design while confirming that technology platforms influence the communication of meaning. In the same vein, Dahlström (2019) explored affordances for the relationship between digital access and digital writing and found that write-ability, edit-ability, and accessibility were pivotal for digital writing. Yang (2012) also noted how learners arranged and re-arranged semiotic modes to find the most effective vehicle for communicating meaning and confirmed the process of multimodal composition is related to a writer’s notion, namely affordances.
While the aforementioned studies have focused affordances of multimodal writing, little is known about how the process of constructing meaning transforms from text to different digital modes. Thus, this gap still needs to be filled by investigating language learners’ perceptions and recognition of how they transform their ideas from a text-based story to different modes. Along with the concept of transformation, in multimodal composition, the affordance also needs to account for how to use a digital tool since technologies have an impact on learners’ writing processes and provide different types and shapes of modes to convey meaning (Schnaider, Gu, & Rantatalo, 2020).
Digital writing in various modes is entwined with the digital tool used to create it, the writer’s perception, and accessibility (Dahlström, 2019; Day & Lloyd, 2007). Hence, writers are expected to be responsible for many aspects of the writing, design, and distribution processes when incorporating digital tools. Kennewell (2001) agreed that affordances for the properties of technology and the characteristics of a learner are interwoven in the achievement of learning tasks. Therefore, the digital tool used to create multimodal resources, and not just the affordances related to various modes, needs to be examined in order to understand how learners interact with multimodal composition. From this perspective, this study utilizes Animoto can help learners to design and think like a director and editor in order to make meaning (İrgin & Turgut, 2009) using various modes as a digital tool to understand affordances.

2. Transmedia Storytelling in eBook Trailers

Transmedia storytelling presents the same story that has been reinterpreted by multiple learners using various media modes from their perspective (Jenkins, 2006), creating an entertaining and unique experience, which is defined as a text convergence (Bolin, 2007). In other words, transmedia storytelling does not merely create original narratives by repurposing a story, but also changes it into another form using a media platform (Jenkins, 2010). Hence, it creates different aspects of the story from the new writer’s perspective while delivering the same story. During the process, each mode attributes its own unique contribution to the creation of the story.
Generally, an eBook-trailer is made following the trope for cinematographic trailers, giving an idea of the story, and thus transferring a text-based story into a video format (Ibarra-Rius & Ballester-Roca, 2013; Sala & Valios, 2016). It is introduced as a form of a digital narrative comprising storytelling and is often applied in developing literature competence, especially for reading. In the same vein, Sala and Valios (2016) pointed out that a book trailer could become a tool for both promoting reading and acquiring literary competence. In addition, Ibarra-Rius and Ballester-Roca’s (2019) view was that a book trailer was a digital narrative that renewed traditional approaches, enforced language learners’ memorization, and enhanced critical thinking in terms of reading skills. It is also a valuable strategy to build multimodal literacy competencies for communication, reading, digital, and artistic skills to define the means of expression since creating the trailer requires a shift from a linguistic feature to a multimodal one in interactive ways (Serafini, 2011).
Despite the fact previous studies show that creating a book trailer raises reading competence (Sala & Valios, 2016), research has not yet focused on digital composition using various modes. Rather, it often used visual interpretation of a literary text using multimedia after reading (Ponomareva, Blyasova, Novikov, Dubskich, & Achmetova, 2020). Utilizing a book trailer as transmedia storytelling activity can be a new challenge in digital composition since language learners move away from the framework of rhetorical structure in traditional writing and express ideas creatively through various modes without being at the mercy of only their writing ability. However, it is necessary to examine how language learners individually reconstruct the meaning of content that is traditionally text into various modes for multiliteracies. In order to explore multiliteracies in English composition, this study utilized the eBook trailer task, which allows language learners to create stories with four different modes from the same text, through Animoto program.


1. Research Questions

Based on the previous studies outlined above, this study focuses on the following three questions:
  1. What are the affordances in terms of a writer’s reaction for four different modes (text, image, music, and space) to convey meaning in digital multimodal composition?

  2. What is the affordance for using Animoto to create an eBook trailer based on transmedia storytelling?

  3. How can the eBook trailer task, digital multimodal composition, be implemented into a text-based composition?

2. Participants

The participants in this study attended English courses voluntarily after reading recruiting information for this study, which was posted on university bulletin boards and class websites. They were also provided appropriate informed consent for this research project followed by Institutional Review Board (IRB). In total, 136 L1 Korean EFL university students with a wide range of English proficiency participated in this study. According to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), the participant levels varied from A1 to C1, A1 (TOEIC 120-220): n = 23, A2 (TOEIC 225-545): n = 50, B1 (TOEIC 550-780): n = 44, B2 (TOEIC 785-940): n = 16, and C1 (945-990): n = 3, based on their TOEIC scores as shown in Figure 1. The majority of them were A2-B1 levels and participants did not have confidence in text-based English writing (① no confidence: n =16, ② little confidence: n = 48, ③ neutral: n = 62, ④ high confidence: n = 8, ⑤ extremely high confidence: n = 2).
Besides, there is a positive correlation between their TOEIC scores and their writing confidence (r = .308, n = 136, p < .001). Among the 136 participants, 44 had digital composition experience. 82% (n = 111) of the participants thought that they had good enough computer literacy to create a digital composition using Animoto.

3. Materials

1) Multimodal Literacy Digital Tool: Animoto

Animoto (http://www.animoto.com) is an online multimedia video presentation program that presents the final product in video format and is normally easy to operate. This program offers opportunities to choose pre-made templates and music from an audio library and has functions to upload an image as well as music based on the users’ creation. Participants could also insert text and alter its properties, i.e., sizes, font, and color, after uploading an image. After participants created a video clip, they could share their created eBook trailers’ link and download the final video presentation on their computer, as shown in Figure 2.
In the free version, there may be restrictions in choosing the number of images or downloading the video in high quality. However, in this study the participants could create their eBook trailers using the free version without any restrictions.

2) Reading Material

In this study, the participants read the same short story, “How a Ugandan Girl Got an Education (Ward & Gramer, 2015),” which is two pages long (643 words). The story, drawn from participants’ English class course materials, portrays a poor Ugandan girl who received a diploma at Connecticut College.

4. Procedures and Data Collection

The participants created their eBook trailer using four different modes— text, an image, music, and space in terms of layout as a spatial element to construct the meaning and rewrite the given story with the same plot for about one hour. Since Bolin (2007) noted that transmedia storytelling is defined as text convergence, the eBook trailer was used as the medium to transform the certain text into different modes by reproducing a writer’s cognitive perception. Thus, throughout the interpretation of the affordances of the four media modes as shown in Figure 3. The participants were asked to bring their computers and to work on the eBook trailers for one hour in an assigned classroom at the university.
The Animoto program was utilized to create eBook trailers. After reading the text, the participants registered an account to log into the Animoto website for free. In Animoto, the participant first selected a space mode from a pre-existing template to decide the layout of their story. After they chose an interesting pre-template, they selected their background music to fit into the story from the music library in Animoto. They also found and downloaded music from different websites to upload into their created space. For the next step, the participants were required to select only 10 to 12 images to represent their stories. They downloaded from websites or drew images on their computers to upload onto their chosen layout. The participants had constraint to type one simple sentence for each photo so the text modes could not take up the entire eBook trailers.
After they typed each of their simple sentences onto their chosen images one by one, they clicked the produce button to create eBook trailers of approximately is a minute-long story. The researcher provided a website where the participants could post their created links to their eBook trailers and exchange their opinions briefly with others in Korean, as shown in Figure 4.
Each participant was required to leave comments on the videos of two other participants about their use of different modes how they delivered their stories, and their overall view of eBook trailers. After exchanging their comments, all participants responded to a questionnaire (see Appendix) through a Google form, (https://forms.gle/gMYP5qcWsGSqV1zMA) and 15 participants volunteered to complete about 10-minute individual interview for deeper understanding regarding their answers on a questionnaire. The researcher downloaded the participants’ responses as an Excel file and analyzed the data. The reliability of the participants’ answer is 0.79 by Cronbach’s alpha. In addition, in order to explore the participants’ reactions further, individual interviews (see Appendix) were recorded, and their answers were input into an Excel file. In the individual interview, participants were asked about how Animoto helped them to create a narrative digital writing, how they used four different modes to create a story, and the differences between digital multimodal composition and traditional text. Since the participants’ answers were not various and some results were the same as in their questionnaires, the results were not analyzed but instead shown through the participants’ responses.

5. Results

1) Interactions Towards Four Different Modes to Construe Meaning

As shown in Figure 5, in general, participants found images (n = 95) to be the most efficient mode to convey meaning, followed by text (n = 89), music (n = 42), and space (n = 20). Many participants felt that the images and text modes were meaningful to convey their own thoughts when creating an eBook trailer, but it was difficult to construct meaning using the space mode. Music was also considered as an effective mode to create meaning although there are disparate points of view. Based on the participants’ survey responses and comments left on the website, the four different modes were interpreted differently when creating their eBook trailers.
Firstly, many participants commented that the text mode was considerably valuable in constructing meaning since it can easily organize the writers’ ideas and deliver meanings logically with traditional text-based writing. However, some participants believed text was not important because they have difficulty writing, especially when choosing appropriate words and sentence structures to express their thoughts. Most importantly, the participants who were confident writers appeared that they could elucidate meaning in more detail with text than any other mode, with no difficulty in expressing feelings and ideas. In addition, the participant answered that text could be a good medium to express thoughts freely with a lesser chance of word distortion, and it can convey a writer’s thoughts to readers more effectively than other modes. Conversely, participants who had low writing confidence stated that they could not express much in the process of writing since their English was not proficient enough to produce comprehensible writing. This perspective is associated with the view that low proficiency learners who have difficulties writing traditional texts due to a lack of linguistic and rhetorical awareness may express themselves through an alternative form (Firkins, Forey, & Sengupta, 2007; Reid, Parker, & Burn, 2002). The participants found that text modes can show both positive and negative attitudes.
Text can be explained in more detail than in any other mode with no difficulty in expressing feelings and ideas (Participant 1).
Text can convey what I think, but it cannot portray many aspects in the process of writing, such as what my thoughts were based on, or what my thoughts intend to convey to the reader (Participant 2).
Secondly, many participants agreed that images are the most effective mode to convey meaning, regardless of their writing confidence because they spontaneously elicit the meanings associated with their ideas like in the participant 3 response. Images also quickly grabbed a reader’s attention and easily captured the proposed meaning for the creator of the eBook trailer from implicated ideas. Some responded that images could help readers to understand the flow of writing in the trailer that they created, as well as organize and summarize the given story. For these reasons, images contributed to the participants’ positive perception on content recognition in an eBook trailer. Unsworth (2008) also confirmed that visual design can support creating visual meaning since it can foster learners’ metacommunicative knowledge as a multimodal mode. However, there were also negative attitudes towards images since a visual presentation may not convey the exact meaning that the writer who creates the trailer wants to express, or the writer may not find the perfectly desired image to express their ideas without creating their own images, as suggested by Participant 4.
Visual expression seems more important because writing in English is difficult (Participant 3).
Image can convey an intuitive story, but it is hard to explain in detail (Participant 4).
Thirdly, participants considered that the music mode could offer various functions. They agreed that music helped to deliver eBook trailer creators’ ideas with a corresponding feeling about the story, and it changed the writing atmosphere. However, some responded negatively that music was just decorative to provide a shadow-like reflection of the writers’ thoughts, making it hard to grasp the meaning since music could be interpreted in various ways. Furthermore, the lyrics sometimes hindered the understanding of the writer’s perceptions. This corresponds with Barton and Unsworth (2014) who found it is difficult to make music significant in digital multimodal literary constructions, with the exception that music plays an important role in modulating emotional response. Similarly, Hepper (1991) noted that the audio mode can operate in isolation or function better with other modes as a meaning-making resource since the auditory sense is received. This means that combining the visual and audio modes in the act of communication gives a greater impact to the delivery of meaning (Kalantzis & Cope, 2012). Below are some representative responses from the participants’ responses that support these findings.
Music can express my feeling indirectly but cannot fully convey my thoughts because most of them need to be found and written somewhere other than something I composed (Participant 5).
Music can be interpreted in various ways since even if it is the same music, I am able to express my thoughts freely. However, my thoughts and feelings might not be delivered to readers because they can interpret music in various ways based on their perceptions. In addition, when presenting music with text modes, I could express my ideas better (Participant 6).
Lastly, the space mode in terms of layout was deemed the least important mode to construe meaning since the portrayed layout was limited compared to other modes in that it functioned just to contain content. In addition, considering the arrangement of templates, space cannot show expression and feeling, thus it is hard to express thoughts with space itself.
However, many participants responded that space could describe the genre of the writing through the layout, and the arrangement of templates could be used to convey writers’ feelings. In addition, the fonts and sizes of the text could be changed to underscore a writer’s intended meanings. The participants also showed their feelings towards space mode with these responses.
The way space is perceived depending on how the space layout is arranged, so it is important to adjust the space layout to interpret the purpose of the space used (Participant 7).
Good usage of space can be pleasing to the eye, but I believe it does not have much impact on the importance of content (Participant 8).

2) Interactions for Using Animoto to Create an eBook Trailer

Most participants, excluding 7 (5.1%) of them, responded that using Animoto was easy to create an eBook trailer since they thought that Animoto did not require high-level computer skills. An eBook trailer made through Animoto as a digital composition could reduce their anxiety for English writing and boosted the motivation to compose while simultaneously allowing the participants to enjoy the process of creating a story by incorporating various modes in a fun way. Moreover, the presentation was clearly more than text-based writing. The participants reacted positively that using Animoto could help to produce an eBook trailer to create a narrative essay; strongly disagree: n = 2 (1.5%), ② disagree: n = 6 (4.4%), ③ neutral: n = 32 (23.5%), ④ agree: n = 81 (59.6%), ⑤ strongly agree: n = 15 (11.0%).
According to İrgin and Turgut (2009), Animoto can aid learners to make meaning during their learning process in great depth, so it is a useful web-based instructional tools. In addition, it can support narrative structures with time order since the participants can develop, organize, and summarize stories by finding the topic sentences and paraphrasing from the given text. The participants confirmed this view and answered positively when asked about using Animoto for a narrative essay.
The program will be of good use for writing that contains narrative structures with time order, and it is useful to organize and understand the whole story in a short time (Participant 9).
Unlike other tools, it was easy to assemble because templates were provided, so I was able to pick a template of my choice that coincided with the situation (Participant 10).
The program is optimized for writing stories since anyone could easily make a quality video, and it was easy to access so it can reduce the fear of writing in English (Participant 11).
However, some thought it was not an effective digital tool for writing since the program lacked editing functions, and the storyline’s portrayal followed a rigid format. One participant also replied that it was difficult to use Animoto to create an e-Book trailer.
Due to my poor computer skills, I was not able to carry out the task in a way that thoroughly fits the purpose (Participant 12).

3) Implementing an eBook Trailer Into a Traditional Composition

This study tried to find effective writing method between digital multimodal writing, eBook trailer, and a traditional text-based one. According to the results of the survey and individual interviews, the participants demonstrated various perspectives about how an eBook trailer can be implemented into traditional text-based composition. Although there was no significant relationship between writing proficiency and mode preferences to create digital composition, overall, the participants favored using various modes with Animoto for digital writing than text-based writing.
Figure 6 demonstrates through the participants’ answers that they preferred digital composition with various modes to text-based traditional writing. Although 15 participants (11.0%) expressed negative attitudes towards using various modes for writing rather than a text, 82 participants (60.3%) preferred to use various modes.
Moreover, the participants replied that using various modes reduces the burden of not being able to write proficient English compositions. They felt that digital multimodal English composition was more interesting than traditional text because using other modes is more effective in telling stories. Traditional text alone has limitations in transmission, but digital multimodal English compositions clearly express thoughts and feeling to the readers through images, music, and space modes. Apart from that, some considered that a lack of English skills can limit the extent of expression made through text alone, but digital modal English composition has a variety of non-verbal modes that widens the range of expression. This participant who filled out the survey and had individual interview also shared their feelings about the task.
I lack confidence on a text-based English composition, especially on the grammar and word choice aspects. However, multimodal digital composition allowed me to combine music, images, and simple text to better communicate content (Participant 13).
Digital multimodal English composition was more interesting than traditional text. Using other modes is more effective in telling stories (Participant 14).
On the other hand, some participants showed negative feelings towards creating an eBook trailer since they deemed that it had little impact on improving essay writing skills and required more time and effort to create the content. Hence, they considered text-based writing could be a better way to help improve their writing skills.
I believe that text-based writing could organize through more concretely since text can deliver more content (Participant 15).
The multimodal English composition is somewhat light, simplified, and limited in content; therefore, I believe text-based English is still a little better (Participant 16).
According to the survey results for how using eBook trailer can help, the participants answered that the eBook trailer could help improve critical thinking (n = 87, 64%), build competence (n = 19, 14%), boost motivation (n = 16, 11.7%), and enhance writing skills (n = 14, 10.3%) in composition. They also answered that they like to use eBook trailer for English writing since they only created multimodal composition in this study. 78 participants (57.4%) agreed that the eBook trailer was a relevant pre-writing task before text-based English composition since the eBook trailer could enhance their creative thinking and reduce the burden of writing, particularly with regards to grammar and appropriate word choice. Therefore, they felt that it could develop their writing competence. The participants who had high competence for writing reflected that although digital composition was a good experience to easily formulate stories, specific meaning could not be elucidated explicitly more than through a text-based one. From this viewpoint, the eBook trailer can play a prominent role in linking traditional and digital writing.
Through the nature of this practice, they thought using an eBook trailer could be associated with a pre-writing task for text-based composition since the trailer could offer a good outline in which a writer could underline critical points before elaborating their ideas. Likewise, 36 participants (26.5%) also agreed that an eBook trailer can be a feasible summary task after reading texts since the participants could learn how to deliver meanings by picking important sentences and rewriting them into simple, concise ones, rather than composing complicated phrases. In addition, the participants deemed that the eBook trailer could be an effective task for narrative writing with sequence topics such as food recipes, explanations for natural phenomena, or personal history.


Since affordances for media modes and new technologies, as opposed to texts, have led to the reconfiguration of composition (Jewitt, 2005), digital composition can facilitate creative thinking by empowering language learners to entail the creation of texts with multiple modes so as to promote motivation and confidence while fostering autonomy (Guichon & McLornan, 2008; Jiang & Luk, 2016). Given that media technologies make it possible to transform from text to different modes in ways that shape processes of making meaning, this study explored affordances of four different modes and a digital tool, Animoto, using the eBook trailer for transmedia storytelling to suggest effective strategies for multimodal digital composition.
The first finding is that the participants with low confidence in their writing abilities tend to find value in the eBook trailer creation activity because they felt its multimodal nature allowed them more avenues for expression than text-only writing activities. It can support the view that since low-proficiency learners tend to use alternative forms of expression positively affected composing (Firkins et al., 2007). Thus, incorporating visual and audio modes may bring better writing effects for language learners with a low-intermediate English proficiency level, for instance, an enhanced ability to produce better-structured and more logically flowing written texts. On the contrary, some participants who have high English competence argued that using various modes may hamper their writing improvement even though they did enjoy using the different modes in their writing. From this perspective, the chosen type of mode needs to be matched with the English learners’ proficiency and their learning purposes to ensure the efficacious contribution of digital writing. In addition, since using multimodal literacy may require different writing strategies and tasks, there is a need to examine adequate scaffolding for various modes and literacy integration.
The other finding is that one mode was insufficient in presenting their expressions since each mode appeared to have positive and negative aspects, thus saying they could deliver their meaning better when more than one mode was combined. Based on participants’ responses, images were the most salient mode to construe meaning since pictures intensify multimodal metaphors (Birello & Pujolà, 2020; Porto & Belmonte, 2014) and combine with content easily. However, selecting the best fitting image was challenging since abstract images are hardly adequate in conveying concrete meaning (Kuipers, Jones, & Thierry, 2018). Given that multimodal digital writing includes both linguistic and non-linguistic modes, it is important to explore how two different types of modes can complement each other to construct meaning. Therefore, effective strategies for choosing an appropriate mode or incorporating different modes for multimodal composition are essential for digital writing.
Furthermore, the participants appeared to have positive attitudes about using eBook trailers in combination with traditional text-based writing as a digital multimodal writing task. eBook trailers were generally utilized as an avenue to improve reading skills, but this study suggests the ways eBook trailers can be applied to writing classes. Since the eBook trailer is considered a good bridge task to link traditional writing and digital writing, it can be applied to various language learning contexts such as pre-, during-, or post-writing activities to meet class objectives. In addition, eBook trailers can provide learners more opportunities to use communication tools and other media modes besides only text.
Lastly, language learners’ computer skills are essential in creating digital multimodal composition. If learners have difficulty using a digital tool, it may affect digital composition negatively by adding a challenge to expressing their meanings. Thus, language educators need to provide a digital tool that learners can easily operate when composing.


This study investigates English language learners’ perceptions and recognitions of digital multimodal writing in terms of affordances for four different media modes and a digital tool. This study utilized the task of transmedia storytelling through an eBook trailer to employ language learners’ metacommunicative knowledge about multimodal texts through a transformation and transduction process to achieve their intended meaning. Thus, each participant composed their own meaning to deliver the same story with four different modes. In order to explore affordances, it examines how a writer can transform and transduce to deliver individual meanings from text modes of given texts to texts, images, music, and space modes in a conceptual frame when using Animoto. The study findings show that each mode includes benefits and constraints, and the language learners’ writing proficiency can impact their writing preferences for whether they use various modes or text alone. Furthermore, it suggests digital composition may have different advantages compared to traditional text-based English composition since it can be evaluated in various ways.
Although this study can suggest effective writing guidelines for digital multimodal composition considering language learners’ perceptions and interpretations for various modes and the digital tool, there are still limitations. This study does not assess the participants’ writing proficiency with pre- and post-tests, so it is difficult to prove that their writing improved through eBook trailers. In addition, since many participants were in the low-intermediate English level, their anxiety about text-based writing may have influenced their assessment of digital composition positively in terms of using different modes rather than text alone. Future research needs to examine participants’ different English levels of proficiency and their writing improvement based on test results.

The Participants’ English Proficiency
Animoto Program for eBook Trailers
Animoto Program for Digital Multimodal Composition
Participants’ eBook Trailers and Peers’ Comments
Participants’ Preference for the Four Different Modes
Participants’ Preference for Using Various Modes


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1. I have good English writing proficiency.
1 2 3 4 5
 Strongly disagree Strongly agree
2. I have experience in English writing using a digital program.
 1) YES 2) NO
3. I have good computer proficiency in using a digital program.
1 2 3 4 5
 Strongly disagree Strongly agree
4. Animoto helped produce an eBook trailer to create a narrative essay.
1 2 3 4 5
 Strongly disagree Strongly agree
5. Please write your opinion explaining your answer to Q4.
6. I prefer to use different modes (images, space, or music) to express and convey my written thoughts.
1 2 3 4 5
 Strongly disagree Strongly agree
7. Please write your opinion explaining your answer to Q6.
8. Which mode among text, image, music, and space is the most important to convey your story when using Animoto? Please write the modes in their order of importance: ①____, ②____, ③____, ④____
9. Please write your opinion explaining your answer to Q8.
10. Using texts, I can express my opinion/thoughts to covey meaning to audiences.
1 2 3 4 5
 Strongly disagree Strongly agree
11. Please write your opinion explaining your answer to Q10.
12. Using images, I can express my opinion/thoughts to covey meaning to audiences.
1 2 3 4 5
 Strongly disagree Strongly agree
13. Please write your opinion explaining your answer to Q12.
14. Using music, I can express my opinion/thoughts to covey meaning to audiences.
1 2 3 4 5
 Strongly disagree Strongly agree
15. Please write your opinion explaining your answer to question Q14.
16. Using space, I can express my opinion/thoughts to convey meaning to audiences.
1 2 3 4 5
 Strongly disagree
17. Please write your opinion explaining your answer to question Q16.
18. I prefer digital multimodal composition more than text-based writing.
1 2 3 4 5
 Strongly disagree Strongly agree
19. Please write your opinion explaining your answer to question Q18.
20. What aspect do you think using an eBook trailer can help?
1) English writing 2) Creative thinking 3) Confidence for writing 4) Other ______
21. How would you like to use an eBook trailer for English writing?

Individual Interview

  1. 1. How do you think using the Animoto program helps to create digital writing for a narrative task?

  2. 2. What do you think about using four different modes to create a story?

  3. 3. Feel free to give opinion about the efficiency way to use digital multimodal composition (E-Book trailer) in English writing class considering how E-Book trailer was helpful.

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