New media, evolving multimodal literacy practices and the potential impact of increased use of the visual mode in the urban environment on young children's learning

This article looks at the way in which the changing visual environment affects education at two levels: in communication patterns and research methodologies. The research considers differences in the variance and quantity of types of visual media and their relationship to the written mode in the urban landscapes of Tokyo and London, using Google Street View to make comparisons. It reflects on the parallels this might have in the ways in which children encounter text in the environment. The data were analysed using Visual Content Analysis and colour coding. It found the Tokyo sample to have a higher density and diversity of visual media types at a wider range of heights. Visual and written communication also appear to be confined to more separately definable spaces with more equal weighting in the use of written and visual modes. Particularly, within the context of early childhood education it is hoped these findings will increase knowledge concerning young children's exposure to the visual mode, initiate wider discourse around this less researched mode's role within new multimodal communication practices and that the methodology furthers understanding of the potential of new media in image-based research.

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