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Multimodal map making with young children: exploring ethnographic and participatory methods
Alison Clark Qualitative Research 2011 11: 311 DOI: 10.1177/1468794111400532 The online version of this article can be found at: http://qrj.sagepub.com/content/11/3/311

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Multimodal map making with young children: exploring ethnographic and participatory methods
Alison Clark

Q R
Qualitative Research 11(3) 311 330 The Author(s) 2011 Reprints and permission: sagepub. co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1468794111400532 qrj.sagepub.com

The Open University, UK

Abstract
Researching the insider perspectives of young children requires a readiness to not only tune into different modes of communication but also to create opportunities for this knowledge to be communicated to others. This research is based on a longitudinal study involving young children and adults in the design and review of learning environments. This article first explores mapmaking, one of the methods used in the Mosaic approach as a site of multi-modal communication. Second, it investigates how the maps, as informant-led representations can promote cultural brokerage (Chalfen and Rich, 2007) by facilitating the exchange of meanings within learning communities and beyond. This applied ethnographic and participatory research raises questions about the importance of making visible these opportunities for meaning-making across generational and professional boundaries.

Keywords
Applied ethnography, multimodality, Mosaic approach, participatory, young children

Introduction
Ethnographers have been challenged to consider how increased understandings of multimodal communication can enhance qualitative research (Dicks et al., 2006). This is a pertinent question when exploring the perspectives of young children. Seeking to research the perspectives of children, five years old and younger, requires a readiness to tune into different modes of communication. Working within a participatory paradigm places added importance on childrens direct involvement in the co-construction of meanings and on creating opportunities for this knowledge to be communicated to

Corresponding author: Alison Clark, Faculty of Education and Language Studies, Centre for Childhood, Development and Learning, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, The Open University, UK Email: a.clark@open.ac.uk

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others. This article argues for the contribution participatory methods can make to ethnographers who are alert to multimodal communication. This research is based on a longitudinal study involving young children and adults in the design and review of learning environments. This article explores two aspects of this special issue on multimodal ethnography: first, by exploring map making, one of the methods used in the Mosaic approach (Clark, 2004, 2005; Clark and Moss, 2001, 2005) as a site of multi-modal communication; second, it investigates how the maps, as participant-led representations can promote cultural brokerage (Chalfen and Rich, 2007) by facilitating the exchange of meanings within learning communities and beyond.

Multi-sensory communication
Ethnography and ethnographic approaches can provide a way into investigating the material and communicative cultures of learning environments (Chambers, 2003; Christensen, 2004) through the perspectives of the researcher and participants. The multisensory nature of these communicative cultures is linked to the materiality of these places for learning. The historians Lawn and Grosvenor (2005) have been among those to draw attention to the rich opportunities for research about the material culture of schools. Foregrounding the physical, multisensory experience of being in school can lead to different understandings of the perspectives of adults and children. An awareness of this materiality has been important as I set out to explore the lived experiences of young children in early childhood environments:
Young children are engaged in everyday tasks such as meeting friends, having snacks, finding their pegs, playing on the bikes and listening to stories. It is a world of glue, toilet paper and sand. (Clark, 2010a: 12)

One of the methodological challenges is how to harness this materiality in order to increase the possibilities for communicating with young children about their day-to-day experiences. Participant observation has been shown to be one way for researchers to immerse themselves in young childrens worlds (for example, Corsaro and Molinari, 2008; Warming, 2005). Researchers are making the choice here to enter the sandpit metaphorically and sometimes literally. This material culture can offer other possibilities for researching young childrens lived experiences by harnessing some of the richness of these resources as a means of direct communication with a researcher. One such example is given by Veale (2005) who adopts the phrase creative methods to describe methods:
. . . which draw on inventive and imaginative processes, such as storytelling, drama and drawing. They can serve as constructivist tools to assist participants to describe and analyse their experiences and give meaning to them. (2005: 254)

Seeking to listen to young childrens perspectives can push the methodological imagination to be open to such expressive languages within the research process (for example, Einarsdottir and Docket, 2009). This was one of the starting points for developing the

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Mosaic approach (Clark, 2004, 2005; Clark and Moss, 2001) with my colleague Peter Moss. The Mosaic approach was first developed to listen to young childrens perspectives of their early childhood environments. There is an emphasis on visual and kinaesthetic modes of communication alongside speech in order to broaden the range of modes of expression which are given status within the research playing to the strengths of the young children involved. The individual methods include book-making using childrens photography and drawing, child-led tours, map making and interviews with young children, parents and practitioners. Underpinning each of these individual methods is participant observation rooted in the everyday exchanges between children, adults, places and objects. The term mosaic was chosen to suggest the assembly of material using several individual pieces or tiles, which together make more of a whole. The participatory nature of this research endeavour emphasizes the childrens agency in this process as other researchers who have adapted this approach have commented:
As Clark and Moss (2001) had found with the mosaic approach, using a range of strategies was effective because not only did it allow for triangulation of data, but it meant that children could select the activity they preferred and so, to use their image, for each child a quite different mosaic pattern might be created. (Stephenson, 2009: 136)

Since developing the approach with young children in early childhood contexts in the UK the Mosaic approach has been adapted by researchers and practitioners working with young children in other countries including Iceland (Einarsdottir, 2005) and New Zealand (Stephenson, 2009). Researchers have also used the Mosaic approach as a springboard for listening to young childrens perspectives in contexts other than preschools and nurseries, including nursing (Soane et al., 2009) and environmental planning (Roe, 2007). OCallaghan et al. (2010) for example, have adapted the approach to explore the role of music in the lives of young cancer patients: Mosaic research examines childrens experiences through investigating multiple perspectives which inform a co-constructed meaning (2010: unpaginated). This bringing together of multiple perspectives using different modes of expression and the co-construction rather than extraction of meanings are key features of the approach.

Meaning-making as knowledge-production
Meaning-making as a term can be applied in different contexts and disciplines. One particular understanding, which is investigated in this special issue, is meaning-making in linguistics, which involves an exploration of modes and media:
Modes are the abstract, non-material resources of meaning-making (obvious ones include writing, speech and images; less obvious ones include gesture, facial expression, texture, size and shape, even colour). Media, on the other hand, are the specific material forms in which modes are realized, including tools and materials. (Kress and Van Leeuwen, 2001: 22, in (Dicks et al., 2006: 82)

My understanding of meaning-making in developing the Mosaic approach has been a concern with meaning-making as knowledge production. This is in keeping with Veales

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description of creative methods described earlier as constructivist tools to support participants in the construction of meanings. She continues:
Participatory methods are those that facilitate the process of knowledge production as opposed to knowledge gathering, as is the case with methods such as individual interviews, surveys and checklists. (Veale, 2005: 254)

While Veales categorization may oversimplify here, her emphasis on knowledge production or knowledge creation has been important in developing this constructivist approach. This has been influenced by social constructivist views about learning. Knowledge is seen to be co-constructed (Rogoff, 2003; Vygotsky, 1978). This way of viewing meaning-making emphasizes the process as well as the end point without necessarily placing each communicative strand under the microscope. This process may be supported by the interaction between children and their peers and between children and adults as co-learners in a community of learners (Rogoff et al., 2001). Rinaldi (2006) in discussing this process of meaning-making in the pre-schools of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy emphasizes the role of documentation in the form of films, photographs, audio-tapes and written notes in making this meaning-making process visible:
I believe that documentation is a substantial part of the goal that has always characterised our experience: the search for meaning to find the meaning of school, or rather, to construct the meaning of school, as a place that plays an active role in the childrens search of meaning and our own search for meaning (and shared meaning. (2006: 63)

This provides a pedagogical lens with which to understand meaning-making as knowledge production or creation which strives to be alert to the hundred languages of children (Edwards et al., 1998). This openness to different modes of communication does not only apply to research with young children. This openness or alertness becomes increasingly important when research participants are deemed as being a marginal group. Liebenberg (2009) for example illustrates how participants photographs became a necessary catalyst for discussion in research with a group of teenage mothers living in a disadvantaged community in South Africa. Tangen (2008) emphasizes the need for this communicative openness in seeking opportunities for researching the lived experiences of participants with special needs. This article, however, uses research with young children as the focus.

The study
The longitudinal research study, Living Spaces, set out to involve young children, three to five year-olds and adults in the design and review of learning environments. Creating opportunities for meaning-making was central to this process. The key research question at different stages of the design process became: what does it mean to be in this place? or more specifically, what does it mean to be me in this place? (Clark, 2010a). The study, which was the third in a series using the Mosaic approach as a reflective framework for listening to young children (Clark and Moss, 2001, 2005), took place over three years involving two English case studies. The first was a primary school which was

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about to embark on a new build project to remove a free-standing nursery class and to incorporate this facility within the existing school. The second case study involved the review of a newly completed childrens centre. This article focuses on the initial phase of fieldwork in the primary school case study where dialogue with children and adults explored views and experiences of the existing environment.

Map making and map reading


This article explores map making, one of the methods used in the Mosaic approach: first, as a site of multimodal meaning-making; and second, examining how these informant-led representations can promote cultural brokerage (Chalfen and Rich, 2004, 2007) by facilitating the exchange of meanings within learning communities and beyond. The map making (or mapping as it was referred to in the first study) was designed originally as a group activity for children to work together to build up a map of their immediate environment their nursery, school or play area using their own photographs as a starting point (see Clark and Moss, 2001: 2831). The development of this method recognized the complexity of the task:
Mapping is one way of recording the information provided by children during tours of their institutions. Making a two-dimensional representation of a place is a difficult conceptual task for young children. We wanted to connect the physical experiences of their environment with map making by using their photographs. (2001: 28)

This draws attention to the possibility of photography as a sensory as well as a visual mode of expression (Pink, 2006). The intention was that the making of photographs, which are material objects, by young children while walking around a familiar environment would anchor their experiences. This was echoed in some of the childrens reactions to both taking their own images and seeing the photographs. An often quoted expression was Got it to indicate the satisfaction of holding or possessing the moment through the photograph. The use of the term map making emphasizes the active process of meaning-making which can occur as children assemble the maps rather than placing importance solely on the product, the map. These maps are not designed to be accurate topographical representations but to be a way of documenting place feelings and associations (Clark, 2010a; Harmon, 2004; Hart, 1979). However, I still view the maps as data in their own right. This differs from the use of participant-generated visual material discussed by Leibenberg (2009) who describes the visual material as a catalyst for other data-gathering rather than actual data.

Part one: map making as a site of multimodal communication


Alex and Claire were two of the older members of the Reception class in the school case study of the Living Spaces study (Clark, 2010a: 2122) and both had just had their fifth birthday. The child-led tours and map making were intended to help to piece together an understanding of childrens views and experiences of their current environment in order to inform future changes to the design.

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Preparation for map making


Alex and Claire were the first children in their class to take me on a tour of their school. The purpose of the tour was explained as their opportunity to show me where were the important places in the school, starting from where they came into school in the morning. I explained that they were in charge of where we went and what they chose to take a photograph of. The children began by taking a photograph of each other to try out using the digital camera. This was not a familiar medium in their classroom. During the following 30 minutes Alex and Claire walked me to the entrances to the school site, along the pathways around the school grounds and into the main door to the school, past the school office. They then led me past the indoor toilets to their classroom. They took 29 photographs altogether. An index card was made of these images and enlarged to an A4 sized colour photocopied sheet. Alex and Claire then chose the photographs they thought to be the most important to be printed off on the photo printer, which was a new resource provided by the research project. This enabled the photographs to be made in front of the children rather than produced by myself at a later date as a finished artefact.

Process of map making


Alex and Claire took part in the map making activity the following day, which was set up on a carpeted area within the classroom. The activity took 50 minutes altogether. I was the only adult present and documented the session by taking a series of photographs of the process (see Figures 16) writing field notes and making an audio recording. Alex and Claire used a range of different modes to explore their views and experiences of their immediate physical environment. These different languages of image, speech, drawing, colour and texture did not take place as separate communicative strands but were intertwined, as Dicks et al. (2006) suggest. The following account identifies some of these individual strands while recognizing their inter-connectiveness. Image Alex and Claire chose eight photographs of important places to go on their map. They both chose a photograph of themselves as their first choice. Both these images were close up shots. The image of Claire fills almost the whole frame, drawing attention to her eyes, which become the focal point of the map. Several of the other chosen images magnify the objects: a collection of exercise books; the classroom computer; a wooden play structure in the playground and the B sign on the boys indoor toilet. These close up images draw attention to the palette of colours in the school environment. The image of the toilet door, for example, reveals three complimentary shades of blue on the wall, the door and the hand painted sign. The remaining two photographs are distant views of outdoor spaces, the passageway to the school gate and the nursery playground with the brightly-painted playground equipment against a background of tall trees. What is not visible from these images is the embodied act of taking the photographs. It was in the combination of observing the children taking their photographs and reviewing with them the final image that the meaning-making took place. The sign of the B on the boys toilet fills up two-thirds of the image. The scale and position of the object is difficult to read from the photograph. It could be read as being a large letter on an

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Figure 1. Gluing

Figure 2. Speaking, drawing and role play

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Figure 3. Speaking, drawing and gesture

Figure 4. Drawing

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Figure 5. Drawing together

Figure 6. Completed map

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alphabet frieze or a close up image of a small puzzle. However, on the tour Alex stopped to take the photograph and had to stretch up on to his toes to be able to focus on the letter on the door. The sign had been made and secured there by the estate manager at the school who was over six foot tall. The narrative of how the photograph had been taken helped the architects to understand how the existing environment had not necessarily been designed with the scale and perspective of young children in mind. Claires image of the exercise books or handwriting books as she described them revealed layers of meaning which were not apparent from looking at the image by itself. This was a curriculum activity which Claire enjoyed but it was only in interviewing Claire on another occasion with the architect that other meanings were revealed: Researcher: Where is your favourite place inside school? Claire: In the writing area. Researcher: Okay. And why is it a favourite place? Claire:  Because you get to write and I take it home and then my mum says its good, and that you can write in a book and she does it at home. Researcher: Oh right, so you get to write in a book. My initial response doesnt appear to grasp that for Claire the act of writing was closely associated with a strong link with her mother and home. The architect was interested, however, in where the handwriting took place within the classroom. This revealed a further layer of meaning which linked the curriculum activity to its location and again reinforced an underlying personal marker behind the image: Architect:  The writing area is where the tables and chairs are and you sit down and you write? Researcher:  Can you see anything from there? Can you see anything else from the writing bit? What can you see from there? Architect: A park and . . . Researcher:  You can yes and you can also see out the window. I like that, when I work in an office I like it when I can see out the window. Architect: Yeah, do you like to look out the window? What do you like to look at? Claire:  I look at my Mum and my Nan and my Dad when they come and take me home, and when they take Julie to school. This narrative was contained within the original image but was not apparent solely from viewing the photograph. Claires spoken account allowed the significance to be understood more fully. Gluing Gluing played an important role in the map making process. This tactile action enabled the children to construct meanings by anchoring their photographs onto the map in the positions they chose. When used in conjunction with the images, gluing becomes a mode of communication for the children to draw attention to what is known about this place under investigation. Glue is a medium that even young children are able to control,

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unlike staplers or sellotape, which can require adult assistance to operate. Glue, in its numerous forms from glue sticks to p.v.a. medium is an important part of the material culture of a classroom, particularly for young children. The affordance of the material supports the childrens independent and collaborative actions (Carr, 2000; Kress et al.and Van Leeuwen, 2001). This affordance relates to both the physical properties of the substance and also the social practices associated with, in this case using glue, within the classroom. Figure 1 shows Alex gluing down his first photograph on to the map. This is the close up image of his face taken at Alexs insistence by Claire. This secured image makes him present on the map. Role play and model making Role play and model making had not been part of the plan for the map making activity. However, Alex and Claire drew on role play objects, which were close at hand, and incorporated them into their map making. I had anchored the corners of the map down on the floor with some dolls house furniture, a wooden model from a toy farm and small blocks which were stored nearby. Alex and Claire realized that these objects could play a part in constructing meanings about being in this place. A large model of a stable became the school and small blocks were added for the inside and outside toilets and toy figures placed on the map (see Figure 2). In some cases the role of these objects changed during the course of the session. The stable block changed from being a representation of the school to becoming the template for the base of the school plan (see drawing below). Model making using small blocks was adapted later in the fieldwork to explore with children their ideas about designs for a new nursery (Clark, 2010a).

Drawing
Drawing provided another mode of communicating to the children over which they could exercise control. They were not dependent on adult intervention or attention in order to demonstrate their visual and spatial understandings of how the school fitted together. Alex and Claire used their drawing to weave some of the different elements on the map together. The new felt tip pens were used, for example, to draw pathways around the school and to add a staircase which linked the two levels in the school (see Figure 6). Drawing gave the children a means by which to document the rela tionship they saw between the different elements of the school as their mini plan demonstrates. Mini plan of the school Using the base of the model stable block as a template, Alex (holding a blue felt tip pen) and Claire (holding a pink one) drew around the rectangle to make the outline of the school. They named the shapes as they drew and then assigned each shape a number: Claire: We need Year 3 because that is where my brother is. Alex: My brother is in Year 5. Claire: My sister is in the nursery.

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Drawing enabled the children to re-impose their understanding of the shape of the school. This was something which the adult-dictated shape had made problematic. My Field notes show there was a certain amount of disbelief at the card presented to the children: But its not a map, its got a hole in the middle! This format for the mapmaking had been used in one of my earlier studies (Clark, 2005; Clark and Moss, 2005) and was designed to be large enough for a group to work on together, with one of the children sitting in the centre if they chose, so they could work in the round. Alexs and Claires reaction was understandable, however, as the shape challenged their notion of what a map should look like. The map within a map can be interpreted as a clever devise to show an overview of the school within the map of the whole school. Photography would not have afforded this possibility. The second example of the drawing of the dinner hall which follows also conveys meaning which was not available to these children through the lens of a camera. Dinner hall Alex had school dinners and declared later when interviewed that he loved eating. He drew a long rectangle, placed horizontally on the map near to the Head teachers office. Inside the shape at one end was a table with two figures behind, a lady and a man, one of whom can be seen to hold a large spoon. Running at a 90 degree angle to the table is a line which stretches along the length of the rectangle. This was described by Alex as the line. It symbolizes waiting in line to collect your dinner at lunchtime. The mode of expression afforded a clear representation of the environment but also a sense of time and of the emotional impact of being in this place. Hart (1979), in his study of childrens sense of place refers to this as place feelings, which Alexs drawing conveys, succinctly. Speech Childrens talking, listening and discussing were interwoven among each of the modes discussed above, and were in turn linked to gesture. Figure 3 shows how Claire points to her image as she points out the spin around game. This was a 3 dimensional wooden noughts and crosses game in the playground. Having pointed the game out to me, Claire began to draw each of the squares adding a carefully written o or x in each square. Brief snapshots of childrens speech are captured in the short captions which they dictated to me to name their photographs and drawings: Spin around game; Our classroom; Outside toilet; Handwriting books; My sister playing in the house; Boys toilet; Inside the nursery; Ball and the basket ball net; Dinner hall and the line; The school; Mr Ps office and the office. In placing each individual communicative strand under the microscope in this first part of the article it can be seen how different modes of communication were enabled through the research activity. Looking at each individual frame in turn has slowed down the meaning-making process to show a complex interrelationship between the media available to these children and the modes of communication the mapmaking afforded. However, the completion of the maps was only one of a series of communicative activities within this applied ethnographic and participatory study. The purpose was not only to tune in but to create opportunities for others beyond the immediate research encounter to tune in too.

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Part two: map making and cultural brokerage


The second part of this article moves on from the process of multimodal communication to looking at how such texts can be part of brokering meaning-making to those within a community of practice (Wenger, 1998) and to those beyond. I will continue with the example of childrens co-constructed maps in order to illustrate this movement of text within the immediate learning environment of a primary school from the classroom to the School Council and subsequently beyond to an external professional and commercial environment of an architects office. The key research question in this study has been how to involve young children as well as adults in the design and review of learning environments. This applied ethnographic research centres on creating opportunities for meaning-making and facilitating the exchange of meanings among peers and across generational and professional boundaries. This can be seen as applied ethnography, which seeks to promote new understandings of culture in real-life changing contexts. While acknowledging the lack of agreement by social scientists about applied ethnography, Chambers (2003) highlights the active nature of this process:
In this sense the culture described by many applied ethnographers has shifted from being a durable depository of a peoples traditions to an unstable and mutable process by which people actively strive to derive meaning from their continually changing relationships and circumstances. (Chambers, 2003: 397398)

Beginning with the community of practice of the primary school, this is not one static, homogeneous group but contains many layers of local knowledge. Each class can be seen to be a subculture with its own established routines, personalities and particular interests. This local knowledge can remain to a large extent locked within the confines of the classroom and within age groups of children. A study, however, which revolved around reflecting on the existing environment in order to inform physical change to the building needed to promote reflection across these established learning boundaries. The completed maps were initially displayed in the childrens classroom and cloakroom in order to provoke further conversations about the existing school with members of the class, practitioners and parents. The maps can be seen to be acting as mirrors to reflect experiences about being in the school back to other members of the community. Rinaldi discusses a similar process at work through documentation in the pre-schools of Reggio Emilia:
They become real mirrors of our knowledge, in which we see our own ideas and images reflected, but in which we can also find other and different images with which to engage in dialogue. (Rinaldi, 2006: 5758).

Several months after the map making sessions, the maps became the catalyst later in the school year for discussion at a School Council meeting where children from five to 11 years old were debating possible changes to the outdoor play area while the building project was under way. The map constructed by Alex and Claire was among those laid out on the large tables where the meeting was taking place. The members of the School

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Council worked in pairs to examine the maps. The children looked at the photographs, captions and drawings and assembled a list of five themes or features about the outdoors which they understood the mapmakers to think were important. The School Council members were then asked to identify five themes or features they themselves held to be of value in being outdoors in their school. The maps did not provide instant access to the younger childrens perspectives. However, the visual and tactile presence of the maps brought their images and words to the debating table. The maps became a catalyst for reconsidering the School Council members own feelings about their familiar outdoor environment. The applied nature of the study required that the meaning-making process crossed disciplinary boundaries from education into architecture. Rather than rely solely on my interpretation of the artefacts produced I took this documentation along to a meeting at the architects practice who were engaged in the new build project. This event contained opportunities for multimodal communication through a range of media. Alex and Claires map was among the maps to be pinned up alongside a storyboard of images constructed by the lead architect about the school together with the architects initial plans. Photographs taken by children on tours were showing on a lap top while architects looked at photo books made by the children about the nursery and read interview transcripts. This event drew attention to the importance of multimediality (Dicks et al., 2006: 79) in facilitating the boundary-hopping of knowledge between the younger members of a learning community and a group of architects. It seemed significant that the material had not been condensed to a 2 dimensional verbal account or on-screen presentation but that the multi-sensory experiences of being at school were being handled in a multi-sensory way. There was a parallel too between the multimodality of this interaction and the everyday working practices within the community of practice of the architects which relied on adults operating freely between image and text. The childrens maps were important objects in the cultural brokerage (Chalfen and Rich, 2004, 2007) which was taking place between the architects and the children. Chalfen and Rich use this term to describe how visual illness narratives produced by children and young people travelled across boundaries between the childrens worlds and the culture of the medical professions in a hospital. The videos the children produced about their illnesses in this initiative, described as VIA initiative, provided a way in to see the medical conditions under study from the lived experience of the young patients. This provided an alternative narrative or knowledge base from medical textbooks. Pink refers to VIA as an example of applied visual anthropology. There are some similarities between map making and brokering which took place using the Mosaic approach and the features of applied visual anthropology identified by Pink (2007: 612). Each characteristic is examined briefly here in a similar way to looking at the individual communicative strands earlier in order to understand in more detail how a multimodal artefact may broker communication which may lead to change. (i) Starts from representing ones group experiences to another The groups may be distinguished for example by gender, class or ethnicity. The different cultures within the Living Spaces study were first differentiated by age. The School

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Council meeting which investigated the younger childrens maps was an opportunity to represent one groups experiences to another within the same organization. There was a wider cultural and generational gap between the architects and the younger children, at the heart of which was the representation of the experiences of one groups experiences to another. (ii) Exchanges or brokerage happens across academic disciplines and organizational cultures I have referred earlier to the academic disciplinary boundaries which were traversed between education and architecture. This in turn involved a crossing of organizational cultures each of which had established modes of communication. Tuning into these modes of communication promoted the gaining of new understandings. An example of this emerged from discussions of Alexs photograph of the boys toilet door. The architects discussed the mismatch between the height of the signage and the height of the majority of the users of the space. This specific point led to a wider discussion about how to remain acutely aware of issues of scale and perspective in the new design. (iii) Involves problem solving and aims for change This distinguishes between studies which aim to increase academic understanding of a topic and those which have an explicit aim to answer a specific problem or to promote change. (However, as Pink suggests an applied study can also contribute to theoretical and methodological debate.) Conducting research within the life course of two building projects firmly placed the Living Spaces study within a context of change. This explicit link with change has become more pronounced in the three studies I have carried out using the Mosaic approach. The methods were developed within an evaluation of a group of services for children and families (Clark and Moss, 2001). The second study involving young children in the redesign of their outdoor play environment made explicit this problem-solving element by articulating a third stage in the research process:
There were two stages in the original study: first gathering material, then reflection and interpretation. The practical focus of the Spaces to play study led to the articulation of a third stage to the Mosaic approach, in order to emphasize the decision-making element of the listening: Stage One: gathering childrens and adults perspectives; Stage Two: discussing(reviewing ) the material; Stage Three: deciding on areas of continuity and change. (Clark, 2005: 33)

(iv) Can result in internal benefits to the participating community in terms of identity construction and increased agency This feature of applied visual anthropology as described by Pink has the strongest pedagogical characteristics whether the identity construction takes place at a community or individual level. I have discussed elsewhere this feature of meaning-making using the Mosaic approach as an important part of a pedagogy of listening (Rinaldi, 2006) in which the construction of documentation by participants can create an opportunity for internal listening (Clark, 2005, 2010a; Rinaldi, 2006). The capacity for self-reflection appears

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to be increased when young children are working with material created by themselves using different media to foster multimodal communication (see for example, Clark, 2005: 3638). This representation to oneself and to others is described by Rinaldi as visible listening (2006). The increased agency of a group or individual may be linked to this making visible and tangible. Liebenberg (2009) identifies a similar potency for participants in her study of teenage mothers engaging with their own photographs to reflect on the taken-for-granted. Chalfen and Rich (2007) discuss a final feature of the cultural brokerage which takes place through the visual illness narratives which also applies to the map making discussed here. (v) Can take place at a distance without a direct exchange This feature seems to increase in significance the wider the cultural gap between the different parties who are communicating. This gap is pronounced between children and young people in hospital and their physicians on cultural, professional and generational grounds. A video narrative enables the experiences of the young patients to be conveyed using a medium and mode of communicating which helps to travel across this gap. Similarly, there is a pronounced cultural, professional and generational gap between young children in school or nursery and a group of architects. Architects did visit the school and talk to groups of children (see Clark, 2010a, 2010b). However, there were difficulties in bridging the differences between these different worlds. Childrens maps helped to mediate this exchange. Both the VIA narratives and the use of the Mosaic approach emphasize the role of artefacts in mediating communication across cultural groups where there are heightened differences of power (Cole and Engestrm, 1993; Engestrm, 1987). Drawing on culturalhistorical activity theory these exchanges can be seen to relate to meaning-making between members of different organizations or activity systems. Central to this process of exchange is the role of mediating artefacts which can enable communication to take place across different professional, disciplinary and societal boundaries. This offers another theoretical lens for understanding the boundary crossing which takes place in applied research which involves problem-solving and change. Whatever theoretical lens is used to understand the brokerage, an important feature of both the VIA initiative and the Mosaic approach is that these artefacts are informant-led representations.

Discussion
This article has explored two elements of multimodal communication within an applied ethnographic and participatory research study. This has focused on a detailed example of meaning-making through map making and the brokering of ideas beyond the immediate research context. The discussion which follows looks briefly at what I see can be gained from bringing together multimodality, ethnography and participatory methods as well as the limitations which arise. I raise possibilities for applying this intersection of ideas to applied research with older people. In bringing together multimodality and ethnography to look at literacy practices, Flewitt (2011, this issue) and Rowsell and Pahl (2007) show how the production of the

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research texts as well as the research texts can be brought into the analytical frame. It is this possibility of bringing the nuanced and the local into the methodological story which for me re-embodies multimodality. It raises the sometimes clinical and disembodied frames of analysis by illuminating the back story. As Street et al. suggest: an ethnographic lens gives multimodal analysis a social map (2009: 197). The discipline of applying a socio-semiotic frame to investigating young childrens map making has offered me several new possibilities for analysing my research. Firstly there is the opportunity to slow down and examine the individual modes of communication which the research participants have employed to explore their environment. Multimodality offers a conceptual framework in which interaction with the material world using different modes is taken seriously. As I have discussed earlier this has been of particular importance to me in my research with young childrens worlds. Multimodality gives status to different communicative languages which are very apparent but have sometimes been dismissed or overlooked in terms of research about young children. The second new methodological possibility for me in bringing multimodality into the analysis of an ethnographic study is the ability to look at the interweaving of the different modes to produce an analysis which is more than the individual modal parts (Dicks et al., 2006; Kress, 2010). This has reinforced to me the richness in the childrens map making while at the same time reiterating the challenge this presents to researchers in terms of how to display and disseminate multimodal data (Plowman and Stephen, 2008). We as researchers have more to learn here from different professional communities of practice which give status to multimodal forms of communication. My research experience suggests that architects and designers are among those groups who have developed communicative strategies for telling the story about their work using a range of different modes including the combinations of images and written text, public speaking and the use of three-dimensional objects. This impression was reinforced to me during my initial meeting with an architect to discuss a case study school. The architect produced a series of storyboards of a number of buildings his practice had completed which combined photographs, drawings and written text together. The office was lined with three-dimensional models of buildings at different stages of completion. Here were documenters who were unafraid to make full use of multimodal data to bring to life their practice. One of the limitations for me of looking at my research in terms of multimodal ethnography is that this underplays the role of participants in the creation of data. I explained earlier in the article that I understand meaning-making to be a process of knowledge production or creation. I describe the map making activities in the Mosaic approach as a participatory method as it is designed to provide the opportunity for participants to step back and to construct a narrative about their own experiences. The aim is for these emic perspectives to be forged by the active engagement of the participants. The philosopher Brian Fay describes such a process as moving from experience to knowledge: knowing an experience requires more than simply having it; knowing implies being able to identify, describe and explain (1996: 20). The possibilities for creating such opportunities for knowledge production are not limited to young children. I have begun to explore such possibilities using the Mosaic approach with parents of young children and practitioners (Clark, 2010a).This opportunity to reflect using multiple methods and modes can provide the chance for

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participants to turn their experiences into knowledge which we as researchers may be well-placed to relay. This element of knowledge creation by participants is not necessarily present in multimodal ethnography but could be included by introducing participatory elements. However holding on to such aspirations for creating opportunities for knowledge creation leads to a need to critique and redefine the role of the researcher, and debate the ethical issues of ownership and authorship as I have discussed elsewhere (Clark, 2010a, 2010b).

Conclusion
Young childrens environments provide a rich context for meaning-making. This in turn may be understood in more detail through slowing down enough to focus on the multimodal communication which is taking place within research encounters in these spaces. Participatory, visual methods enable young children to play an active part in constructing multi-layered artefacts which provide opportunities for bringing different languages or modes together. The texts produced in this way may remain within the immediate context in which they are produced. However, where research has an explicit aim to promote change these texts can be enabled to travel beyond the learning community, crossing professional and disciplinary boundaries. Cultural brokerage through such artefacts as the informant-generated maps discussed in this article can provide the opportunity for visible listening (Rinaldi, 2006) and tangible listening supported by the materiality of the artefacts produced. These artefacts are in turn not the transparent answers to research questions but starting points for dialogue with those who may otherwise have remained on the outside:
They are three-dimensional writings, not aimed at giving the event objectivity but at expressing the meaning-making effort; that is, to give meaning, to render the significance that each author attributes to the documentation and the questions and problems he or she perceives within a certain event. (Rinaldi, 2006: 71)

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Biographical note
Alison Clark is a senior lecturer in Childhood Studies at The Open University. Her research interests include childrens experiences of place, school design and the development of participatory research methods. Recent studies have included involving young children and adults in the design and review of schools and a study of the impact of Post-War school design on contemporary design and practice. Her book Transforming Childrens Spaces was published by Routledge in 2010.

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