The internet has changed writing forever.
Have you ever thought of your students alongside Hemingway, Shakespeare, and other well-known writers? They are actually: All their messages, blogs, and social media posts go online today, together with novels, poems, or stories of professional writers.
Now they write more than speak. Online communication calls the shots, and Gen Z doesn’t perceive informative writing as we did 20 or 30 years ago.
Our students don’t only write about their personal life but share community and society news – and their opinion matters, as people read those writings online, “listening” to those thoughts.
Digital writing can be anything: blog posts, social media updates, text messages, e-mails, comments on news, e-book, movie or product reviews at thematic communities, fan fiction, or poems posted online… Words become actions on the web.
- There is a big gap between what students consider good writing on the web and what we teachers explain it to be 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: How to make a connection between digital and academic writing, given that computer technologies have transformed the meaning of this word?
Are writing skills still critical to get in schools? Does digital writing matter in education?
Why does writing matter?
The answer is in this article’s intro: Our words become actions on the web, and we live through them, building views, dreams, and communities with the messages we share online.
2004 seems so far away now, but it was the year when the US National Commission of Writing 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: If you can’t write, your chances of landing a job or getting a promotion are few.
That’s why writing is a core language skill we teach in schools, and the rapid growth of tech makes this skill even more critical to get:
By teaching students to write, educators help their mentees express themselves in the 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?
It’s a rhetorical question, indeed. Teachers’ job is to prepare students for work and life; 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 the modern workspace.
In Because Digital Writing Matters, a book from the National Writing Project, the authors describe the importance of digital writing and explain why it matters in education today:
- It’s a mode of thinking and interfacing with the world.
- Digital writing supports learning across all subjects and helps to develop critical thinking.
- It promotes tech development in schools, making educators create a learning environment that is perfect for growing digital literacy.
- Digital writing helps to innovate learning.
We can “write” and create content in many new ways now. More modes are here: visual instruments (images, videos, charts, infographics, etc.); hypertext to link our writings and let more people see them; rewriting (we do it with or without permission but create new content anyway, sometimes even better and more valuable for our online audience), etc.
By the way, students actively use rewriting when crafting essays and other academic papers. Digital writing skills help them analyze, research, and be selective over the information they’ll use in their works.
Is digital writing challenging to include in the education process?
We’ve agreed that digital writing matters in education; however, it can be time-consuming and expensive for schools to implement the necessary techs for teaching and practicing it. On 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
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: The world is fast-changing now, so our educational system should always keep up with the times.
So, let’s keep up with the time together!