Writing in the Digital Age

Collectively as a society, “we compose some 3.6 trillion words every day on email and social media — the equivalent of 36 million books.” That’s amazing amount of writing. To think that Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and emails are getting people to write, when a short while ago, they wouldn’t have. Not counting social media or email, how much have you actually written since you finished school? Probably not a lot. Social media, blogging, etc. is keeping people writing, which should lead to a more educated and better informed world.

“We compose some 3.6 trillion words every day on email and social media — the equivalent of 36 million books.”

Michael Drennan, a high school teacher, made a commitment to have all his students’ writing be through blogging. He found it to be a positive experience and observed a number of benefits over traditional writing in school. Students were more motivated. For students to have an audience, other than their teacher, made their writing better. When you know that anyone in the world might see what you’ve written, it ups the ante. Clive Thompson explains, “Having an audience can clarify thinking. It’s easy to win an argument inside your head. But when you face a real audience, you have to be truly convincing.”  Studies have found that communicating to an audience forces people to pay more attention and learn more.

"Blog" button Photo Credit: alphinytx via Compfight cc

Blogging in the classroom is an excellent way for students to see the progress they have made. They can actually see how their writing is improving by scrolling through their previous entries. This in itself, is motivating. Parents can also have a window into what their child is doing at school and how well they are doing it. Students can learn from each other by reading and commenting on each other’s blogs. Drennan also noted that students were enjoying the writing they did, and they were thrilled when they acquired world-wide followers.

Student’s get to participate in a global community. This allows connections to happen and more and deeper learning to take place. As we have learned and discussed in my graduate class, learning is a social experience. We are shaped by our environments and the conversations going on around us, whether those happen face to face or through the internet. If the world was as connected in 1890s as it is today, penicillin would have been discovered years earlier and thousands of lives would have been saved.

“Making connections is a big deal in the history of thought—and its future.

Disorganized Communication - People Speaking at Once Photo Credit: The Idea Desk via Compfight cc

So with all the comments, blogs, tweets and links, how do we organize it all? This is something I struggle with. There is so much information out there. When I come across an article I don’t have time to read at the moment or a great idea for a lesson I’ll be teaching in the future, how do I keep it for later viewing and not spend hours looking for it again? Enter Digital Content Curation.

The new definition of content curation “is the act of selecting and collating digital content, organising it so that it may be better used to meet a particular need.” There are now online tools that have the sole purpose of helping us file and organize resources for later use. I am excited to start using these tools and organize my life! Kay Oddone also explains that, “students too can benefit from learning effective curation skills as being able to quickly and critically evaluate a range of information sources, and then curate these into a meaningful collection is a vital research skill.” Content curation can also be a valuable study skill for students.

6651377591_8be89e2d01_o Photo Credit: Aivar Ruukel via Compfight cc

Part of our goal as teachers should be to move students from being knowledgeable to knowledge-able. In order to do this students need to be connected and social media and blogging is one way we can enable this to happen.

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