Saturday, April 27, 2013

Writing With Mobile Devices

workflow…thoughts on devices and how they relate to the writing process, myths or not, as claimed by the writer of the article, 5 Myths About Writing With Mobile Devices | Edudemic. Comments too, a relief to note that this does not reflect a consensus. It may even be the product of someone who hates to write and expects everyone else to as well. I won't get in the language abuse of overusing powerful words like myth, a tactic that smacks of advertising (another form of writing). 

Let's just say the article is interesting, worth reading and presents ideas and opinions worth thinking about. Following Jacques Barzun's definition of conversation as the sifting of opinions, it belongs in the ongoing conversation of computers (devices), language and writing.

Beth Holland opens her Edudemic article,
A few months ago, shortly after the first EdTechTeacher iPad Summit, I spent the day with a college friend out on Cape Cod. In telling me about her daughter’s class iPad pilot, my friend seemed both excited and hesitant. At one point in the conversation, she turned to me and said, “The one thing I hate, though, is that writing just stinks on iPad.” 
Initially, I took a bit of a defensive position and prepared to launch into my iPad is NOT a computer schtick. However, the more I listened – and have since listened – to not only my friend but also educators in workshops, webinars, and conversations, the more I realize that parents, administrators, and even teachers fall victim to 5 Myths of Mobile Writing which lead them to believe that this critical facet of education cannot seemingly occur on a mobile device.
The "Myths" (misconception would be a better word choice) are
  • Writing = Keyboarding
  • Writing = Word Processing
  • Device = Process
  • Writing = Text
  • Writing = Essays
Holland closes:
Myth: Mobile devices can’t be used for writing – BUSTED 
Is writing possible on a mobile device? Absolutely. Could it be easier on a computer? Possibly. In listening to friends and colleagues, I understand that there are certainly limitations to writing on various devices, but also plenty of benefits depending on how you choose to define the process. 
Confession: while I brainstormed this post using Penultimate on my iPad, I sat down to actually write (type, edit, and publish) on my Macbook.  
Before I left my friend’s house on Cape Cod, I wrote up a list of apps to install on her daughter’s iPad – Popplet (graphic organizer), AudioNote Lite (record audio and take notes simultaneously), and Educreations (screencasting). Will they improve her daughter’s writing? It all depends on the process
Just off hand, I'd say way too many to introduce all at once, possibly indicative of a taste for toys for the sake of toys than writing, but that's just my take from 15+ years teaching writing in a wide range learning situations ~ as well as being an early edtech adopter. Then come the comments, ranging from:
This has been a very mind-altering article which opened my eyes to another way to think about writing. 
As with one of the other comments, I agree that there is a distinction between ‘communicating ideas’ in a general sense and ‘writing’ in a technical sense. Touch screens certainly fit in with an expanding view of how we can, and will, increasingly communicate in current times. 
However… until long-form methods of writing become close to obsolete (as in novel writing, essay writing etc), we are not particularly preparing our students well if we communicate to them that ‘writing’ on a tablet is just as much ‘writing’, as any other form.
...and finally:
Except, that you are 100% wrong.\ 
Partly because you either do not seem to know the standard definition of writing, or you are choosing to ignore it. I will assume the latter. If you honestly do not know what “writing” is, well, let me know, and I will spend the time to explain. 
Myth #1 – Writing = Keyboarding: Except that it is. If I am trying to actually write, I want to get the words from my mind to the paper, the screen, whatever. And I want to do so quickly and easily. Why? I do not want to lose my train of thought....Learn to use a real computer. Learn to use industry standard software. You’ll need it, some day. And if you learned, you’ll be glad. 
Myth #2 – Writing = Word Processing. NO? Then what the hella is it? Whether you use Word, or Publisher, or Excel, or whatever…. The end goal result is neat, legible, formatted, output. (Whether on paper or screen.) Oh, while I am formulating my thoughts, I like things simple, this is true (hence Wordpad). But in the end, you need a tool that will put out customer/client acceptable output. Pads do not have the processor power, battery life, ease of use, or software for this yet. Someday, they may. That is why most people use a pad as a consumption device. 
and so on down the myth list in more detail. #3 may be my favorite and briefly sums the matter up, 
One must use the device/medium/tool, that fits the job at hand. And logically one wants to use the simplest, most productive, most useful, “tools” available. Pads and slates are just not there, yet. But the device whatever one, must fit the process at hand. That is why we still have felt markers, paint brushes, and so on.
Learning to write still involves writing but should neither limit nor prescribe tools. 

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