Many students now texting & tweeting will learn to write

A survey of teachers across the country found that digital devices have created a solid foundation for good writing.

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Has the tsunami of texting, tweeting and emails left behind a generation that can’t write well?

That’s been the fear in the United States since LOL & IDK (laugh out loud and I don’t know) have become so common they are now used when talking.

While concern remains legitimate, it appears the fear has been somewhat overblown.

The Los Angeles Times reported that a national survey of teachers released Tuesday indicates that all the texting and tweeting has boosted creativity and personal expression. Another positive is collaboration has also increased as students trade their thoughts, documents and pictures through computers, tablets and cellphones.

The teachers surveyed gave more than half their students grades of good to excellent for effectively organizing writing assignments, considering multiple viewpoints, synthesizing content from multiple sources, using appropriate style and tone and constructing strong arguments. But on the downside, teachers in the survey — conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project — expressed concern about “creeping informality” in writing.

In addition, teachers said more than two-thirds of their students had fair or poor abilities to digest long and complicated texts and grasp plagiarism issues.

Students will likely overcome problems with grasping long texts as well as understanding plagiarism (What do you mean I can’t just cut and paste from Wikipedia?) by the time they are out of high school. The lessons could be painful ones for some, but most will eventually grasp what they need to understand to write well.

That’s because the teachers polled, as well as teachers in Southern California interviewed by the LA Times, see digital writing as a great foundation for learning and digital tools making teaching easier. More than two-thirds saw the cyberworld as a greater help for English teachers than for those teaching math, science and social studies.

In the end, however, technology is not the most important element in promoting good student writing, said Los Angeles teacher Lisa Alva Wood, even though she uses iPads in her classroom.

“Technology is neither here nor there; it’s still in the hands of the teacher,” she said.

Exactly.

Laptops and iPads connected to the Internet are ultimately just tools. If they are used wisely, students now hooked on text messages and tweets could become good writers.

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