Over the last decade, there has been an ongoing debate over the impact of the constant stream of texts, emails, instant messages and status updates has on students. While some harkened that technological evolutions signalled the end of progress for mankind, and reported on a doomsday kind of future where whole generations can only speak in hashtags, the opposite seems to be occurring.
If the old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ has any truth at all, then digital writing has done more for education than any old teaching methods over the last hundred years. For one thing, it’s important to define digital writing. It’s commonly accepted to mean just about any kind of writing that takes place online or on a computer – including texting, blog writing, emails, or status updates. While the quality of this kind of text is occasionally questioned, the overriding fact is that students and teenagers are writing more than ever before. They do the bulk of their writing outside of school, which was unheard of just a few decades ago. If this is how students communicate, and how they write in the real world, then including it in their education is a pretty necessary step to make sure you are providing relevant and engaging classes. The following points show exactly why digital writing matters in education.
1. Encourage Peer Review
As most digital writing is aimed at a student’s peers, the door to peer review is wider open than ever before. Via technology such as Google drive that has opened up access to different work within the classroom, it is easier and more relevant than ever to ask students to write a piece online, and then ask another student to edit, review, or add to it. This collaborative environment boosts engagement and will make your student work harder as they are more conscious of who will see their work. Plus, writing on a laptop is much more natural than writing by hand for them, so you will likely see better work as a result too.
2. Add Meaning to Their Work
Digital writing is rarely done for the sake of it – which is how school work can sometimes feel. Students pour their emotions into blogs or really communicate via social media. Others explore their interests or indulge in their passions via sharing sites and pages with anonymous writing, while others share fanfictions or gaming hacks to communities they feel a sense of belonging with. They all write with a purpose, which is what is often missing in a classroom environment, and should be implemented to improve the overall written communication of students in school.
3. Make Monitoring Easier
Putting writing tasks online makes grading and assessing students levels a lot easier, and you will be more informed about how to help them. Plus, you can opt to teach via different audio or visual methods when you go online, which means you can appeal to all kinds of learners and make sure you’re getting your message across.
You can’t fight progress, and the best teachers will realise early that digital writing will play a big part in their students’ future, and incorporate it into class.