Lesson 1.1: What is digital writing?


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  • To define and describe digital writing.

Activate Prior Knowledge

Please click the link to access your learning journal. This is where you will be typing your responses to the prior knowledge, reflection, and new understandings prompts in each lesson.

Abubble2.png What do you think digital writing is? How would you define or describe it?


Spend some time looking through a few examples of digital writing here: Digital Writing Examples.

[Note: these are not necessarily all appropriate as student examples, but they represent a vibrant array of possibilities for digital text creation].

Questions for Reflection:

  • What commonalities did you notice across the examples?
  • Which texts and/or components of certain texts did you enjoy the most and why?
  • How do these examples integrate strong writing with various multimedia elements?
  • What did you see in these examples that could become something your students might do in a writing project?
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"As writing continues to shape and be shaped by digital tools and networked spaces, and as standards for teaching and learning how to write broaden to encompass new genres and media, writers are presented with more and more options. The question is no longer whether we should use technology to teach writing; instead we must focus on the many ways that we must use technology to teach writing." - p. 2 (Hicks, Crafting Digital Writing)

If I prompted you to think about the kinds of writing you ask your students to do, what would come to mind? I might think about my 7th and 8th grade ELA students: short responses, literary essays, personal narratives, realistic and science fiction, argument essays, reading notebook responses, and discussion posts. Next ask yourself, in what formats do your students compose these types of writing? When do they use paper and pencil? When do they use technology such as Google Docs, Slides, or other digital tools? How do they publish their work for authentic audiences? When and how do they share their work with each other and collaborate to strengthen their writing skills?


You are probably already using digital tools in your classroom to help your students compose, revise, and share their writing. The purpose of this mini-course is to open your eyes to more exciting possibilities in the realm of digital writing. Throughout the four units, you will explore diverse examples of digital texts, learn how to transform your narrative, information, and argument writing units into dynamic and collaborative projects your students will love, and reflect on the many ways you can prepare your young writers to be active participants and authors in a 21st century digital world. We start with defining digital writing…

Some Definitions of Digital Writing

(from Because Digital Writing Matters)

“Any writing that requires a computer to access it.” - JodiAnn Stevenson
“Writing which, at minimum, would be diminished if it were presented in a non-digital format, and at best, which is effectively untranslatable out of the digital format.” - Dan Waber
“Creative writing that uses digital tools/software as an integral part of its conception and delivery.” - Catherine Byron
“Collaborative/participatory writing, hypertext writing, improvisatory ‘real time’ writing, new media writing (i.e. multimedia authorship), code poetry and programmatic writing, online role playing, journal writing/blogging, international community building, E-learning, game playing…” - Tim Wright

Deepen Your Understanding


Now that you have completed lesson 1, revisit your understanding of the learning target. Consider what new understandings you now have, and develop your initial understandings based on the lesson materials.

What do you think digital writing is? How would you define or describe it?

References and Resources

DeVoss, D. N., Eidman-Aadahl, E., & Hicks, T. (2010). Because digital writing matters: Improving student writing in online and multimedia environments. John Wiley & Sons.

Hicks, T. (2013). Crafting digital writing: Composing texts across media and genres. Heinemann.

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