Thursday, March 22, 2012

Digital Student Writing (Tags #change11 #potcert11 #evomlit)

Upfront disclaimer and confession: this post has nothing to do with current or even recent lesson topics in either Change 11 or Program for Online Teaching. Aha, serendipity alert: inadvertently, I seem to be in sync with the POT Wk 20 topic, instruction design. 
Whatever, Digital Student Writing and the perennial problem of getting students to write are germane and central both to the declared focus of this blog and online or computer assisted learning (whatever the current nomenclature flava is). Moocxtination (just made that up, more or less a mashup of MOOC + destination) is less clear, especially without a map or well beaten path to follow. For now, I'm relating it online writing and study groups (e.g. in areas such as GED, ESL, college prep, continuing education, DIY PD, etc. that I have perhaps futile hopes of adapting MOOC model to)

Taking where learners write from the most and are more comfortable writing strikes me as a logical starting point. It's like planning a drainage systen: first see where the water wants to go (or not) and then design accordingly.

Revisualizing Composition: Mapping the Writing Lives of First-Year College Students :: WIDE Research Center, Michigan State University

This white paper reports initial findings from a Writing in Digital Environments (WIDE) Research Center study entitled Revisualizing Composition: Mapping the Writing Lives of First-Year College Students. These initial findings are drawn from a survey of students enrolled in writing classes at a sample of US postsecondary institutions.


Writing practices and technologies have changed considerably over recent years. Given these changes, we know that contemporary college students are highly literate, but we lack clear and comprehensive portraits of how writing works in their lives. The primary aim of this study is to generate a large and uniform data set that leads to a better understanding of the writing behaviors of students across a variety of institutions and locations. Working from the assumption that students lead complex writing lives, this study is interested in a broad range of writing practices and values both for the classroom and beyond it, as well as the technologies, collaborators, spaces, and audiences [e.g. distributed networks] they draw upon in writing.

Initial findings include the following:
  • SMS texts (i.e., texts using short message services on mobile devices), emails, and lecture notes are three of the most frequently written genres (or types) of writing
  • SMS texts and academic writing are the most frequently valued genres
  • Some electronic genres written frequently by participants, such as writing in social networking environments, are not valued highly
  • Students’ write for personal fulfillment nearly as often as for school assignments
  • Institution type is related in a meaningful way to the writing experiences of participants, particularly what they write and the technologies used
  • Digital writing platforms—cell phones, Facebook, email—are frequently associated with writing done most often
  • Students mostly write alone, and writing alone is valued over writing collaboratively


Cris said...

So happy to read that students write for self-fulfillment almost as often as they write for assignment, Vanessa. I just took over the responsibility of facilitating a long-running teen writers' club and I'm eager to learn all I can about why teens write when they don't have to.

Vanessa Vaile said...

Teen writers club is voluntary ~ that's a plus. Compulsion is a turn off. A plus to if is not part of a school program.

I worked with an after school program at the high school for several years. Computers and writing, which I referred to using computers to trick them into writing more than they would left to their own devices. Email, making web pages, music lyrics, etc. But then I would let them play games as long as some could be construed as learning. Games with other competitors often included chat functions, which gave 13 yo boys a chance to chat up older girls (which I couldn't resist pointing were probably their age), but they were writing. The one into medieval looking combat games would look at .edu medieval weaponry, castle and siege machine pages. Even found a Beowulf rap page (blocked by school filter).

Combine writing and games.

The last year the program was at the high school, I submitted a proposal for a course on writing scripts (not code) and storyboards for games. No go. Games are evil, rot the brain and so on.

I found a lot of material about writing for games. Give it a try.

Getting adults to write is problem too.

IMAGINE said...

I write and I am a student. Keep writing

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