Say Wut? Digital Tool Use Can Improve Ur Students’ Writing?

The Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy (IOAPA) allows Iowa students to take APTM classes online.  IOAPA is especially meant for rural schools that do not have the resources to support APTM classes.  Educators can learn more here.

In recent years, there has been concern that high school students are unprepared for college-level work, particularly in the area of writing.  As parents, educators, and professionals seek an explanation for this unpreparedness, it has been proposed that teenagers’ writing skills may be hindered by frequent use of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Some claim that use of these websites leads to reliance on “very compressed” language.  For example, the website Twitter may inadvertently encourage users to ignore rules of grammar and to opt for abbreviations rather than standard written English in order to fit a post into a limited number of characters.  This shortened and informal style can then trickle into academic writing, which is supported by anecdotal reports of student integrating “text speak” (e.g., ‘btw’ instead of ‘by the way’) into written work.  Yet research from the Pew Research Center suggests that digital technologies also positively influence students’ writing skills.

This past summer, the Pew Research Center surveyed Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers to better understand teacher perceptions about the impact of digital tools on student performance.  Their findings demonstrated that teachers are indeed concerned about the “creep” of informal style into formal academic writing.  At the same time though, teachers believe digital tools boost student creativity and personal expression while encouraging collaboration among peers.  In addition, letting students share their written work through online social mediums may even increase student motivation to create quality and unique written products.  Evolving technology appears to shape the way we perceive and utilize written language, but its influence may be more positive than initially thought.

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