Writing and Technology

Recent research has demonstrated the importance of allowing students to self-select reading material as a way to foster positive reading development.  In fact, allowing students to select books within their own areas of interest is a great way to encourage young readers to keep reading.  So it should come as no surprise that self-selection in writing may have a similar effect.  In Young People’s Writing: Attitudes, Behavior, and the Role of Technology , researchers examined both students’ interest in writing and the preferred medium for writing.  Not surprisingly, it appears that technology based formats were the most frequent preferrence with 82% preferring text messages and 73% preferring instant messaging.  The study also found that students with either a profile on a social networking site (79.6%) or their own blog (82.1%) were generally more interested in writing as well as confident in their writing ability.
While social networking tools and technology solutions are often decried for diminishing literacy rates among young people and chipping away at grammatical conventions, this study merits reflection.  If students are finding enjoyment in writing – if even through non-traditional mediums – then perhaps these technologies (properly harnessed) offer encouraging ways to get students writing.  We should not be too quick to dismiss what may prove to be an effective tool in keeping students interested in writing.  After all, as digital natives, students are more likely to be excited about reading and writing when presented as part of the digital sphere in which they live.

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