Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Positive View of Technology and Literacy

BBC News - Children who use technology are 'better writers'
Children who blog, text or use social networking websites are more confident about their writing skills, according to the National Literacy Trust.
The report is intriguing.  (And not just because it reports that students using social media were "more confident" of their skills but doesn't correlate that with any actual assessment of those skills.)

My own children are doing much more writing than I ever did as a child/youth/student.  And while only a small portion of that is formal writing for school, they are learning a lot about communicating through writing that I actually believe is really valuable.  In the same way that they can take hundreds to thousands of "free" digital photographs for every one carefully calculated "costly" photo I took at their age--and so are actually learning much more about lighting, exposure, and depth of field because of immediate and voluminous feedback--they are also learning communication skills by constantly "writing" to their friends.

Of course, we now have all kinds of collateral issues associated with these different forms of electronic writing around permanence, visibility, and actual authorship; on balance, though, my sense is we'll see this resurgence in writing as a strong positive characteristic of our time.


  1. Dear Steve,

    My 8 y/o daughter enjoys blogging, but is also very happy to write with pen & paper in her journal, and in snail mail letters to her friends. I think that online & paper writing are interconnected.

    I'm watching her younger brother to see if his literacy skills follow a similar pattern. So far, he lags with hand writing skills she had at his age, but he is getting interested in using the computer more.

  2. Thanks, Bill, for the comment. I think I'm agreeing with you when I say that variation in innate abilities and desires is still a given, which I certainly see between our own four children.

    I meant to look up the article that showed lowered test scores by students used to typing when taking tests that required hand-written responses. Will have to look for that and think about it!

  3. I was thinking about this the other day, but in the context of how much I read online.

    Every day I read a bit of 3 books from Dailylit.com, but I also scan 150+ items from RSS through Google Reader and usually save 10-20 from that mix to read more deeply. This is not to count email (about 100 a day), twitter (100 tweets daily), facebook (100+ activity updates daily) or any reading I do off of the computer--which is not as much as I would like, but still 20-50 pages a day. In terms of total words read, I think I'm reading as much as I ever was in grad school (which was book heavy for the education courses I tool).

    I was thinking that one of my new years resolutions was going to be "read more". But do I really need to?

  4. @Joseph: see my previous post! :) http://www.stevehargadon.com/2009/12/balancing-worrisome-thought-about.html

    I believe you're firmly in the product arena, but then again, I believe the same thing about myself...

  5. I think its because of the advantages of the technological aspects of resources within reach such as the Microsoft office auto grammar correction, thesaurus and other syndicated writing aids found in the internet. Still, children may grow up too dependent on technology like copy paste syndrome, but if they are learning technical writing at a young age, then that is an advantage in life.


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