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Writing in Online and Multimedia Environments: Why Digital Writing Matters in Education
posted by: Cindy Omlin | May 18, 2016, 09:25 PM   

The importance of writing as a communicative tool has been stressed time and again – writing isn’t just a medium of communication, it’s also an essential skill that can help leverage an individual both in the job market, their personal relationships, and, primarily, in education.

With the onset of digital disruption in today’s fast-paced world, fewer students seem to fit into the mold of the conventional and undeniably limited view of what constitutes good writing, and how to hone that skill.

More often than not, this idea remains in the realm of overly formal writing, which needs to be distinguished from its more informal counterpart. However, instead of dismissing technology as a bad influence on young learners, it may be time to harness its potential in teaching a generation of digital natives. 

Defining Digital Writing

Digital writing rests in a broad spectrum, so utilizing it for education may need a more concrete definition.

In 2013, a report released by the Pew Research Center showed that over half of the 2,462 educators who served as respondents were willing to integrate technology into their teaching styles. These individuals and institutions acknowledged the way technology is changing social and cultural landscapes, and the need for education to catch up to stay relevant. Their definition of these mediums rests mostly on interactive blackboards and blogs. 

But new technologies are being made every day, and it may be time to reevaluate and put in some additional methods to digital writing as a tool for shaping students’ minds. Tapping into the collaborative potential of digital is a great advantage for educators. 

Since the online world has made connecting with others easier, it’s the perfect vehicle for encouraging collaborative efforts between students and their teachers. 

So how exactly can educators and students alike benefit from digital disruption, and what tools do they need to see it through? Here are three aspects of writing education that will benefit from the technological age: 

1. Peer Review

One study shows that students highly value the opinion of their peers, whether it’s in terms of decision-making, or revising their paper. 

As we’ve mentioned earlier, technology champions collaboration and interconnectedness. Using this idea on activities that require peer review, students can now interact more with their classmates and get feedback faster. 

Online platforms like Google Drive inspire collaboration and team effort. Students can share more than just ideas, but also files that others can view and revise. With the help of peers and the facilitation of the educator as a guiding mentor, digital writing on such collaborative platforms can not only improve a student’s writing skills, but also widen their social network. 

2. Inclusivity

In line with the idea of widening a student’s network, digital writing may also prove to be more inclusive than previous teaching methods. 

Since people identify with different learning preferences, inclusivity often becomes an issue in traditional classrooms where student, board, and teacher are confined within four walls. There may be efforts to make a classroom more interactive with visual tools like standard PowerPoints, pictures, and even videos, but employing the help of digital can speed up the process and ensure a more inclusive setting. For example, there are several ways on how students can leverage the use of iPads in the university. 

You won’t have to teach your students basic grammar with bland flashcards and uninspired chalk scribbles. Bringing the discussion to digital can pique their interest by letting them explore various mediums at their fingertips – from video to audio to visual. 

At the same time, you can monitor their progress easier as well, since you have access to their feedback and files. In order to help all types of students hone their writing skills, a more efficient and inclusive environment that’s sensitive to various learning preferences is necessary. 

3. Access and Convenience

 It often becomes a problem on the educator’s part when too many assignments and activities pile up. 

Sometimes a student’s submission goes unnoticed, or is even lost in a flurry of things. A more compact and organized storage space could be the solution to this dilemma, but instead of file folders and cabinets, consider the web instead. While mindfully securing your files, you’ll be able to keep track of every student submission without the hassle of physically organizing them. 

At the same time, students can also keep their own copies without needing to print out a physical one. It has, after all, been a major argument for digital that a more environmentally-friendly approach would be to course most submissions via email or cloud.

Several revisions on a single paper might mean a greater number of papers to keep track of. On the other hand, saving them as files in a folder leaves them easily locatable in your hard drive. This is a convenient move that can leverage student-teacher collaboration in the long run. 

In Sum: Advantages of Going Digital

The fast-paced turnover of technological advancement in recent years is revolutionizing every aspect of society as a whole – even education. 

It’s time to make use of these changes to effect positive results on students and educational institutions. By tapping into digital writing as a possibility in teaching and guiding a student’s progress in their communication skills, we may be able to establish a more effective, timely, and efficient system as well. 

The advantages of this move can be found in better peer review systems, more inclusive environments for all types of students, and better accessibility and improved convenience for student-teacher collaborations. Of course, the need to practice responsible teaching is still an important factor in all this, but with these effects in mind, there’s no denying that digital can greatly help educate and hone students’ writing skills. 

About the Author

Paige Donahue is a blogger and editor. She hails from Pennsylvania and enjoys discovering new things. She is at her happiest when she shares her learnings with those around her. Follow her on Twitter.

Originally posted by Paige Donahue at AAE.

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