Why do you use technology in your classroom? To many instructors, it’s because of convenience. Technology allows instructors to go paperless, enhance a lecture with a video, create a blog to supplement the class, and countless other things. But can technology teach students as well? In the case of digital writing…absolutely! In an article published recently by Emerging EdTech, guest poster Neven Jurkovic discusses ways in which 1:1 technology can help students become better writers. The new medium of web-based writing has changed the way we write, view and interact with text. Here are some of the key points he discusses:
- “Writing in digital spaces” – Now that so much writing is done in digital spaces (blogs, web sites, social media), many of us don’t even think twice about how different it is from traditional paper-and-pen writing. As I write this blog post, I have many options for conveying my message to you: I can hyperlink words, embed multimedia, and easily format my text in different ways to add emphasis and voice. It’s very important to have skills in both traditional writing and digital writing, as they are two different formats. By providing students with easy access to technology, we are allowing them to build their digital writing skills. Skills that, for many generations, were not necessarily taught in K-12 education.
- “Writing for real audiences” – When students publish work on the Internet, they are immediately opening access to it that extends beyond the classroom or even an academic setting. This forces students to think critically about how they categorize, tag, and attract readers to read their full post. Academic writing generally doesn’t have to worry about these things, but now that writing on the Internet is usually accessible to anyone in the world, it’s something writers should be aware of.
- “Collaborative writing and peer editing” – Digitally, students can collaborate on papers and projects in ways that were not possible in the past. Google Docs is a prime example in this case, the popular application that allows multiple people to edit a paper online at once. Additionally, instructors can look back and see the paper from start to finish–what revisions were made, who worked on what, how students helped each other, etc. Using collaborative writing tools, Google Docs in particular, allows instructors to see not only the finished product, but the entire writing process.
At the end of the article, Jurkovic argues that digital writing is an essential skill to learn–it involves far more than writing the essay you would on paper. Students need to be taught to be good digital citizens, and can achieve this through learning proper digital writing skills and access to the technology that allows them to learn.