Multimodal Arguments

Hello (again) All!

For this post, I will be exploring multimodal arguments. Multimodal arguments are arguments created through the use of just images or images with some texts that are so powerful, the argument is clear. For the sake of this post, we are using the Toulmin Model of argumentation: claim, evidence, and warrant.

Below is my multimodal argument I created using the website Canva.

Claim: Higher Education is a heavy financial burden commitment.

Evidence: Most college graduates graduate with a mass amount of student loan debt that will follow them most of their lives.

Warrant: College and Universities are not affordable to the average student seeking high education.

Because this kind of argument is so close to home, I chose to highlight student loan argument. According to Loan Hero and Lending Tree:

“Among the Class of 2018, 69% of college students took out student loans, and they graduated with an average debt of $29,800, including both private and federal debt. Meanwhile, 14% of their parents took out an average of $35,600 in federal Parent PLUS loans”

Data provided by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of research with, as well as by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, unless otherwise specified.

As a student with a substantial amount of student loans, I think the cost of higher education is almost not worth the burden of having almost 30,000+ in debt. While my image I created does not touch on this issue, many loan borrowers are only 17-18 at the time of their first loan, which means they may not even understand the commitment they are making. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for high education (in all its many forms tech, vocation, liberal arts, etc.), but the joy of graduating comes with the dread of having to pay back that investment. This is what I aimed to argue in my multimodal argument (my image). Like in the image, graduation day is joyous, but by then, most student are slowly drowning in debt (or their parents are).

Please let me know if my multimodal makes no sense though…

To create my multimodal argument, I used a website called Canva. I have never used (or heard of) Canva, but it was the only digital tool that I found that allowed me to use different elements in order to create my image. The website is essentially a place that offers a vast amount of tools that the user can use to build/create a design for things like business cards, classrooms, signs, etc. The platform offers drag and drop tools like backgrounds for your image, text, clip-art, and photos. As you can see, I chose to use it to create an image for my multimodal argument.

Unfortunately, this digital tool is not 100% free. If the user does not have a “pro” account, most of the website/tools are not available to them. This is not to say there is not a ton of options for those who do not have an upgrades account, but the website does lack a bit. The image that is created will also have a watermark as Canva is all about protecting their property. Fortunately for me, the watermark works with the image I created.

As mentioned above, when searching for tools I could use for this makercycle, I found a bunch of tools that let me copy an image, but almost none allowed me to alter the image. Canva allowed me to do this in so many ways. For this reason alone, Canva was the perfect digital tool to use for this maker project.

Affordance-wise, Canva allows the user to create an image using several other tools in the process. What I essentially mean by saying this repeatedly, CANVA GIVES YOU OPTIONS! Depending on the product the user (student or teacher) is trying to create, Canva probably has a tool to help them further. For example, when I created my image, I used the “background” tool, the “elements” (clip-art) tool, and the “text” tool. Inside these “sub tools” there are even more options. The user is given a ton of freedom within the platform to be as creative as possible. To me, this is the main affordance the digital tool allows.

Constraints is a different story though. As I have stated previously, the platform is not free. Unless the user is a “pro” member, every costs about $2.00 to do. If you want to send your image to your address? Money please. Download the image as a jpeg? Money please. Remove the water maker? Yep, give them your money. I understand that Canva is a business and a brand, but when you sign up, you are asked what you are using Canva for. As an educator, I would think some things would be discounted or more tools would be free. This is even more of an issue if students use it. Students do not want to pay for something they need for a project either. Money is the biggest constraint of the platform.

If the platform was not such a money-centered website, I could see using this in the classroom and basing some student-centered lessons around it, but students can do very little without the platform charging them. I do not kind the watermark, but the more elements the user adds to the image they are creating, the more watermarks appear. I love the idea of this post, the multimodal argument. I could see analyzing certain elements in a unit about advertising or political satire, but this could also be created using a meme generator or something else the students can relate do, because if students do not have that “buy-in” factor, then students check-out (Dail and Thompson, 2016).

Advice, Suggestions, Cautions:


1.) Make sure that if you are using the Canva that you only use the free stuff or make it very clear to your class that unless they want to pay, only use what is available. I would honestly suggests some alternative sites if that is part of the lesson or project you are working on.
2.) Play around with the platform before assigning or trying to create an image. For the first 30 minutes on the platform, I had no idea what I was doing,so it was all trial and error. If you can’t explain it how to do, students will be lost.

1.) It is not free, so do not go into thinking you will have access to all the tools it has available.
2.) I am not sure how to get the product off the site. Once you have created a product, it cost money to download or share, but you can copy and paste the link. I simply did a “cut tool” from my toolbar. I did not attempt any of the other options.
3.) Not exactly user friendly.

Let me know if you have ever used this platform! Would love to hear your thoughts!

Ms. D(ickenson)

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