Posted on 09/16/2013 at 02:51 PM by Global Reach

There are those who feel a social media like Twitter is destroying the ability of students to communicate clearly. Acronyms and emoticons have infected the grammar of our students. Are our students part of the dumbest generation?  What does research say?

One study conducted by Andrea Lunsford from Stanford University dispelled this fear. Lunsford collected 877 freshman composition papers from 1917 to 2006. If indeed the digital age had harmed students' writing, the error rate on these papers should have increased. It hadn't. What Professor Lunsford did find, however, was a big change in how students were writing. Papers today are longer and have increased intellectual complexity. Professor Lunsford concluded, "Student writers today are tackling the kinds of issues that require inquiry and investigation as well as reflection."

Lunsford also found students are writing more. No longer passively consuming media, students are responding to it. Students are also writing more fluently. Because technology allows students to write and edit more quickly, more ideas can be added. The backspace key can be seen as a sign of literacy. "It is the heat-signature of a writer who is fluent with technology at hand- their hands moving quickly, iterating as they compose, going back over bad phrasing, just as well-trained adults do." This is called transcription fluency, Students are also communicating more frequently with peers, friends and the world. This makes students more motivated to write. They now have a real audience and it is that audience that can make such a difference. Writing for actual live people helps students produce better quality work.

Teachers still have an important role in helping students. Students may be writing more informally because of social media. While the Internet might serve as an avenue to motivate them to write, it is the teacher that helps them write well.  Students also need help learning how to search and evaluate the information they find. The entire article can be found here.

How about you? Are you incorporating social media into instruction? Is Twitter being used in your school?

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