Thursday, July 18, 2013

Report: Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing

On Tuesday The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project published:
Purcell, K., Buchanan, J. and Friedrich, L. (2013) The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing and How Writing is Taught in Schools. Pew Research Center.
The research methods consisted of: "an online survey of a non-probability sample of 2,462 middle and high school teachers currently teaching in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands" (March/April 2012) and "a series of online and in-person focus groups with middle and high school teachers and students in grades 9-12" (2011/12).
A majority of teachers felt that learners' ability to share and collaborate, and their creativity, was affected positively by use of digital technology. Google Docs (for collaborative writing) seemed particularly popular. Digital tools also seem to include social networking sites, mobile phones etc.; so a broad interpretation. Teachers also had some concerns, e.g. "68% say that digital tools make students more likely—as opposed to less likely or having no impact—to take shortcuts and not put effort into their writing". Despite the fact that 88% of teachers spent "class time “discussing with students the concepts of citation and plagiarism” there were also particular concerns about learners' understanding and ability as regards fair use, citation etc.
You can download the report or read it online at

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