Sunday, October 02, 2005

Technology in the Writing Classroom

The composition program at CSU, as at Wayne, is an example of how folks are recognizing the ever-changing role of technology in all aspects of life and work. As teachers of writing, it is important to recognize the changes and to keep up with the tech both to keep students involved and interested and to place more responsibility on them to take charge of their writing, to be more invested in writing and thinking as combined and real-world activities. To recognize that writing comes in all forms, is created in a variety of contexts, and involves many processes of recording and organizing based on the particular contexts at hand. The point I suppose is to give writers more tools for developing their skills and aptitude with writing. But the goal is not to perfect the writing, the goal is not to make students who can mechanically produce ‘excellent’ writing, but to help students to develop as writers, to ‘make better writers’ as some would say. The idea is to get students to think about their roles as writers, to take on the responsibility to determine writing context, who their audience is, what the purpose of their writing is for each individual situation that arises. Technology can help in many ways including the variety of tools that are available to writers through the use of various technologies. Something as simple as having students meet in a computer classroom and doing in class writing on the computer. The quality of the writing and thinking is often, in my own experience, better than when you do the same exercise but have the students do the writing in their notebook during class. On the computer they will incorporate complete thoughts and sometimes go deeper and do more analysis of these thoughts. They spend more time actually writing, like working on the computer is somehow more real and therefore more valuable. One downfall, though, as I have noticed is that sometimes discussion can be more difficult in a computer classroom b/c the students quickly get used to sitting at computers and writing, doing their own thing, so to get them to take those ideas and then discuss them openly in the class sometimes causes a sort of a shift in the tone of the class. It’s hard to get a good balance of both computer work and discussion in a computer classroom. The set-up at Wayne though is nice b/c the computers move around, the tables and chairs all move around, the room is more easily re-structured to better lend itself to discussion and community activity, as well as quiet personal time with the computers.

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