Lesson 1.3: Why is digital writing important?

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  • To explain why digital writing is important.

Activate Prior Knowledge

Abubble2.png Why do you think digital writing is important?


Check out these 2 articles about the power of using digital writing in the classroom:


Why Digital Writing Matters in Education

Social Media Makes for Better Student Writing, Not Worse, Teachers Say

Questions for Reflection:

  • Do you feel like pressure to have students perform well on state tests limits your ability to spend time on more creative forms of writing?
  • Grabill writes about the "gap between how writing works in the world and how we teach it in schools." What do you think he means? Do you agree there is a gap?
  • How do you think the networked nature of our digital world should impact education and the projects we ask our students to engage in?
  • In what ways does technology allow students to share their work beyond the class and teacher? How important is this in a secondary English classroom?
  • Should we allow more student creativity and personal expression in the writing tasks we assign?
  • Both of these articles were published over 7 years ago. Why do you think it's taken so long for schools to "catch up" with what the experts have been saying for a long time about the importance of digital writing?


Excerpt from Because Digital Writing Matters: A Conversation with the Authors:

Why does digital writing matter?


Elyse Eidman-Aadahl: The short answer is that we live in a digital, networked world, and there’s no going back. Quite simply, digital is. Our handheld devices, our cell phones, the media-rich environments that we all spend so much time in are spawning new literacies at what sometimes seems like the speed of light. Consider that today’s 21-year-olds have played 10,000 hours of video games and sent or received 250,000 emails or instant messages. Then consider that the work environments and the community environments they will graduate into are also deeply digital, wired, and interactive. It’s imperative that our school environments reflect the networked nature of the digital worlds that students live in daily.

Danielle DeVoss: It’s interesting because in some ways students are now writing more than ever—blogging, text messaging, emailing—but they don’t often call it “writing.” Writing is something they do in school while what they do outside of school in a more participatory way is something else. That fact alone tells me that we need to rethink the “how” of teaching writing to bridge that gap and equip students to thoughtfully create and judiciously consume Web content.

Troy Hicks: Yes, it’s not enough for students to write online—they need to really use the Web in ways that take full advantage of its strengths. The collaborative, participatory nature of the tools calls for us to integrate newer technologies such as blogs, wikis, social networks, podcasts, and digital stories in our teaching. We, as teachers of writing, need to consider how these literacies interact with—and sometimes change—how we teach writing.

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“Teachers of writing have a crucial role in supporting students in understanding the complexities of communicating in a twenty-first century world.” (BDWM, p. 2)

In a digital age, we are no longer simply consumers of media and knowledge, but creators of media and knowledge as well. We post on social media, share youtube videos, and write blogs. Our creations are immediately shareable in real time- out there for others to see and respond to. We must help our students navigate a digital language that is technological, social, and cultural. Technology is not going away anytime soon, so it's our job as educators to help our students understand the relationship between technology, human interaction, and societal change. We want them to develop a critical consciousness of technology so they have the skills to decipher underlying messages, distinguish between fact and bias, and determine which platforms are most ideal for which purposes.

why digital writing in classroom...

Deepen Your Understanding


Now that you have completed lesson 3, revisit your understanding of the learning target. Consider what new understandings you now have, and develop your initial understandings based on the lesson materials.

Why do you think digital writing is important?

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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