Multicultural Media Authorship: Using Technology to Create Children's Literature Texts

By Byker, Erik Jon; Good, Amy J. et al. | Multicultural Education, Winter 2018 | Go to article overview

Multicultural Media Authorship: Using Technology to Create Children's Literature Texts


Byker, Erik Jon, Good, Amy J., Miller, Erin, Kissel, Brian, Multicultural Education


Introduction

It is final exam week. Yet, rather than completing a traditional final cumulative test, teacher candidates in an elementary social studies methods course present their multicultural children's literature texts, which they have created as part of the course's emphasis on media authorship and project-based learning. The assignment guides teacher candidates through the design and layout of their texts using an online publishing tool called Student Treasures.

Teacher candidates choose multicultural-themed topics related to the history and diversity of people in the Southeast region of the United States. Teacher candidates draw from multiple resources to create their children's literature text. The text includes: (a) a narrative story; (b) an author's note about the resources that are drawn on to create the text; (c) pictures, interviews, historical documents, and primary source images; and (d) a reflection. As part of that reflection, teacher candidates share what they gained from the project.

One teacher candidate responded with the following reflection:

By writing this book, I have gained a deeper appreciation for Latino culture. The book gave me the opportunity to talk with Latino students and families at my clinical school. Most of my time spent using technology is for watching Netflix and listening to music. But, authoring this book gave me the opportunity to actually use technology to create. I am happy with my book and plan to include the book in my classroom library in my future classroom.

The teacher candidate's quote reflects how media authorship is one of the affordances of the Internet and educational technology. By media authorship, we mean a person who designs and creates texts. We assert that texts are anything meant to communicate which can be read (Freire, 1970; Freire & Slover, 1983). Texts can include everything from books, memories, multimedia, posters, and signs, to newspapers and textbooks. Digital technologies-like the publishing websites on the Internet-democratize and speed up the process of authoring user-created content. Technology puts authoring tools in the hands of everyday citizens so that people can communicate their ideas.

Clearly, technology makes media authorship more accessible. Researchers posit that media authorship represents a mixing of knowledge and skills which reflect the multiple ways people use technology to communicate (Byker, 2013, 2015, 2016a; Byker, Xu, & Chen, 2015; Byker, Putman, Handler, & Polly, 2017; Zhao, 2010). According to Zhao (2010), using technology to create is a world-class skill that has even greater value than traditional skills like computing and keyboarding.

Professional organizations also extol the importance of the use of computer technology for creativity and media authorship. For example, creativity anchors many of the standards for the International Society of Technology in Education's (ISTE) (2007) Technology Standards for Students. Standard six-the Creative Communicator standard-states that,

Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals. (ISTE, 2007, para. 9)

Focusing on what students and educators can actively create with technology is part of the larger vision of using digital technology to enhance learning.

The Partnership for 21st Century Learning (2014) also locates media authorship as a twenty-first century skill. Specifically, media authorship resides in the skill of achieving communication through multiple forms of text.

Media authorship also pairs well with cultural responsiveness (Gay, 2002) by utilizing multicultural forms of writing. Grant (1994) asserts that the practice of writing is a high impact strategy for integrating multiculturalism into teaching and learning. Villegas and Lucas (2002) explain how writing and reflection are ways that teacher candidates can be orientated toward a commitment to students who differ from the dominant culture and represent cultural diversity. …

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