Frequent users of social media are probably familiar with the vast array of tools available for creating multimodal messages, but as a writer of alphabetic texts I was not, until the six-week multimodal writing course I have mentioned in earlier posts. Being called upon to create multimodal texts, virtually out of thin air, day after day for six weeks was eye opening. Researching whichever topic I wanted to write about meant googling for images, video clips and music, instead of delving inside myself to find the right words. I needed to show my thoughts, to create visual narratives, to combine words with images and sound. I found this outside-in approach to writing deeply confusing.

One of the early obstacles I feared was economic. As I browsed literally thousands of images to find ones that might communicate my thoughts better than words, I learned that most were copyright protected. Not surprising. But problematic, because license fees were not within my budget as a student. And I was thinking beyond school. Could I afford to become a multimodal writer?

The most cost-effective solution was subscriptions. As a student, I qualified for huge discounts on Adobe Creative Cloud, and through the Cloud platform, I could gain access to countless professional top-quality digital images and video clips to use in future projects at a reasonable additional cost. So, I signed up for Adobe Creative Cloud.

But, I had to find more software too, software that was quick to learn and suited to the fast pace of multimodal writing class assignments. I subscribed to Venngage Business, which provided access to an excellent toolbox and appealing templates for creating images I could use in my class blog, videos, print, and wherever else I wanted. I could even upload my own photos to create Venngage designs. Perfect. Finished images, created within Venngage, were automatically stored there and could be downloaded anytime, from any device, in .pdf or .png or .png HD format. Venngage Business became my goto software for creating images for multimodal texts.

I licensed two professional images from Shutterstock, and later purchased two image bundles for future use. All these are stored for me at Shutterstock, so I can download copies as needed.

For video processing, I struggled with using iMovie on the Mac to edit the final school project. It was feature rich, but not user-friendly for my purposes compared to Perfect Video, a $4.99 app I found for iPhone (and iPad). Since my iPhone was (and is) my video camera of choice, I processed individual video clips using the iMovie phone app, then assembled the clips, images and sound, using the Perfect Video phone app.

For music, I considered YouTube, which offers a music subscription service at a very reasonable monthly fee, but for school I preferred to post all my work on the WordPress blog I had to build for class assignments, so I licensed a song from another online music source and paid a one-time licensing fee. For work beyond the classroom, the YouTube music subscription will be far more economical.

Today, when I think of my personal collection of 30,000+ travel photos and files on Amazon Drive, I see a treasure trove of copyright free material for use in multimodal texts, albeit a bit of an organizing nightmare ahead.


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