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The Role Digital Writing Plays in Education

The Internet has changed writing forever.

Have you ever thought about being alongside Hemingway, Miller, Shakespeare, and other well-known writers? You are actually, because all your blog posts, tweets, text messages go online as well as novels, poems, or stories of those professional writers today.

Today, we write more than speak. Everyone's doing online communication now, and we do not perceive writing the way we did it 20 or 30 years ago.

Do you understand how influential your digital writing is? You don't write about your personal life only; you share community and society news – and your opinion matters, as people read your writings online and “listening” to your thoughts.

So, I believe it's clear what digital writing is. Actually, it can be anything: your blog posts, social media updates, your text messages, e-mails, comments on news, book, movie or product reviews at thematic communities, your fan fiction or poems posted online…

Words become actions on the Web. But a pitfall appears when it comes to writing in education:

  • There is a big gap between what counts as good writing on the Web and how it is taught in schools.

Writing in schools and colleges has nothing in common with digital writings students read online every day. And that's a trap for teachers, actually: how to make a connection between digital and academic writing, taking into account the fact computer technologies have transformed the meaning of this word radically?

Are writing skills still important to get in schools? Does digital writing matter in education?

Why is writing important?

This is a rhetorical question. But if you need an answer anyway, just read this post from the very beginning: the answer is given in the introduction, and it makes it clear why writing matters in life; our words become actions on the Web, we can live through them, we form communities with the help of our writings… Our writings create us, actually.

2004 seems so far away now; but it was the year when the US National Commission of Writing had published a report, revealing the importance of writing skills for getting a job and building a career. They called writing a “threshold skill” for hiring among employees: if you can't write, your chances to land a job or be promoted are little.

With that in mind, it becomes clear why writing is a key language skill we should get in school. It supports learning in other areas, and computer technologies make this skill even more important to get: teaching writing in school and colleges, educators help young people express themselves in digital world and become a significant part of modern society that writes more than any prior generation in history.

Does digital writing matter in education?

This is a rhetorical question, too. Teachers' job is to prepare students for work and life, and that is why they should do everything to help young people meet the challenges of digital writing and equip them with technology-related skills needed in workplace.

There is a very good book, Because Digital Writing Matters, that describes the importance of digital writing and explains why it matters in education today. It's from the NWP (National Writing Project), and it tells us that:

  • digital writing is a mode of thinking and interfacing with the world;

  • digital writing supports learning across all subjects, and it helps to develop critical thinking;

  • digital writing promotes tech development in schools, making educators create learning environment perfect for developing digital literacy;

  • digital writing helps to innovate learning.

Thanks to digital writing, we are free to “write” in many new ways. More modes are resources are available for us to create content: visual instruments (images, videos, charts, infographics, etc.), hypertext to link our writings (this tactics is used actively by informative websites, and my OmniPapers review blog is not an exception), rewriting (we do it with or without permission, but we create new writings in such a way, maybe even better and more valuable ones for our online audience), etc.

By the way, rewriting is actively used by students when it comes to creating essays or other types of academic papers. Digital writing skills help them analyze, do some research, and be very selective over the information they are going to use in their academic work.

Is digital writing a challenge?

This question could be rhetorical, but there's more to this than meets the eye.

We've agreed that digital writing matters in education; however, it can be time consuming and quite expensive for schools to implement necessary techs for teaching and practicing it. From the other hand, some educational institutions find it acceptable to substitute teachers with digital techs as a cost-saving measure.

What do schools need to make digital writing work?

1. Engaged teachers.

2. Engaging environment.

3. Direct instructions.

4. Practice.

5. Revisions.

Digital technologies enable communication and collaboration, and teachers can use them to make their students more productive. It can be a real challenge for educators to decide how to teach digital writing: we live in the constantly changing world now, and educational system should always keep up with the times.

So, let's keep up with the time together! 

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