Have you used Twitter lately? Currently there are over 160 million registered users. More than 90M tweets are written per day. Yet this communication tool that so many people have found so useful is similar to one that many teachers claim is ruining students.
It used to be adults worried about kids spending too much time watching TV, but those days are gone. Today, teachers worry about another type of screen time. Kids are either texting, IMing (instant messaging), or else on social networking sites like Facebook. Many educators are concerned about the impact technology is having on students' writing.
Should they be concerned? Is all of this time texting ruining the writing of students? Some teachers feel that the slang, or casual language used extensively in texting and IM'ing will have detrimental long term effects. Most seem to ignore the fact that kids today are writing constantly. In fact, putting thoughts into written words is part of the natural lives of kids today. Anyone who cannot share their thoughts through texting is at risk of becoming a social outcast.
Students don't see the constant use of slang as a problem. They know the difference between casual language between friends and formal language used in school and business. According to Pew Internet's Teen Writing Survey, 83% of students feel there is a greater need to be able to write well in order to be successful now when compared to twenty years ago. They also found that 85% of students write in school at least several times each week.
Another worry, especially at the secondary and collegiate level is how students spend class time texting instead of focusing on the lesson being taught. However, forward thinking instructors have begun to use this to their advantage by engaging students in real-time dialogue and assessment.
In many classes today, students are participating in online learning and communication using blogs and wikis, web-based collaborative projects using Google Docs, and various other computer uses throughout their school day. Often students are much more motivated in class where video and interactive Smart Boards are integrated into the curriculum.
Obviously, the students of today have lifestyles, both in and out of the class that are much different than in the past. Although some educators are concerned about the affects of these changes, some are embracing the changes and celebrating the advancement of education. Their goal is to open doors and encourage students to push forward using every tool available for a more interesting and challenging learning environment.
Everyone changes their spoken language based on the audience. At a very young age children learn to speak differently to their parents than they do to their friends. Doesn't this make it only natural to expect the same in their writing? When students walk into a classroom spending hours each day putting their thoughts into words, it can only make them better writers.
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