Because Digital Writing Matters- Annotated Bibliography

DeVoss, D. N., Eidman-Aadahl, E., Hicks, T., & Ebooks Corporation. (2010). Because digital writing matters: Improving student writing in online and multimedia environments (1st ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (Focus on Chapter 2- Revising the Writing Process: Learning to Write in a Digital World)

In the book Because Digital Writing Matters entirely new challenges and opportunities are presented. Writing is already a challenging activity, but with the layer of digital writing tools, students must understand how they can work together to open up to new audiences and modalities. For this bibliography I am focusing on Chapter 2- Revising the Writing Process: Learning to Write in a Digital World.

It is clear that Digital Writing encompasses many new skills, but the chapter states that “Technology is not at the heart of most digital writing practices, the writing is.” Keeping that in mind, the practice of teaching and practicing writing- process writing, study of craft, and understanding audience is paramount. (page 41) The digital tools allow for easy collaboration and joint authorship in such programs as Google Docs.

Students have to make decisions on Purpose and Audience, but the focus is to create engaging texts in any environment. This directly connects to the work we had done earlier in the Summer Institute.

This chapter was dense with information and I am going to begin with the suggestions they had at the end of the chapter.

  1. Give students playful, low risk opportunities to free write, draft, compose, edit and publish with audio/visual flexibility.
  2. Build online searches, pose problems, do critical reading and use a web based search engine
  3. Work independently and collaboratively to present original ideas to multiple audiences and to choose the best technology to do so.
  4. Students become teachers serving the wide range of skills and abilities in the classroom. They learn from each other and transfer knowledge.
  5. Help students understand that both writing and technology are complex tools and by practicing, they will become critical thinkers and problem solvers. (paraphrased from page 58)

In my experience, the use of digital tools in the classroom brings up other challenges that are unexpected. While introducing Google Classroom, the students ( 3rd grade) discovered that they could comment back and forth. Most students claim to have been “finished” with the activity, but in a matter of 5 minutes, there had been 77 comments shared amongst 5 or so students. These are the nuances of the digital platforms that teachers need to navigate. Digital Writing Matters suggests allowing students to teach you through the process. As a teacher, I know the power of students’ learning and how quickly they can figure out new technology (and all the tricks,) but I feel I have a responsibility to out think them. The fact is that there is just no way. I need to learn to be a quick problem solver and try to manage those pieces as they arise.

One area that Digital Writing Matters  does not address in the beginning part of the book are the skills students need, the “Pre-Skills” needed before they be able to access the digital tools. Many of my students do not have computers at home- maybe tablets, but frequently they are not given access to the desktops or laptops on a regular basis. Understanding of a mouse/touchpad, keyboarding, opening tabs, how links work, the difference and purpose behind email and documents. Naming and organizing projects (so we don’t have 100 ‘Untitled’ documents)

Digital tools allow for use of voice and images and this is a strong platform for English Learners. On page 49, we learn that although many students might be hesitant to write in English, they can share their ideas and voices digitally with ease. I had this exact experience in my classroom. For a student to fill a page with writing who is not confident to “talk his ideas” and record them digitally, is powerful.

Digital Writing Matters is a very dense book with many important considerations as we continue to blend digital tools with the teaching of writing. The teachers who incorporated these platforms did so keeping the writing at the forefront and although technology serves its purpose in our blogging, wiki, tweeting world, keeping good, purposeful writing at the heart is the point.

This is a link that shows how good writing can stay at the heart, while digital storytelling can enhance for a wider audience using Adobe Spark. Student Examples