It’s long been deemed the enemy of correct spelling and grammar, but a recent survey has revealed that English teachers don’t hate digital technology as much as we might think.
A study released by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project has found that 96 per cent of teachers in the US believe that technologies ‘allow students to share their work with a wider and more varied audience’. Teachers are increasingly seeing this as a good thing; the exposure that students’ online posts get encourages them to take greater care in their writing and express more personal creativity.
One teacher among nearly 2,500 questioned by the survey uses modern apps such as Google Docs in his classes to encourage collaborative writing and editing between his students. An avid supporter of all things digital, he sets his class storytelling projects that make effective use of blog posts, documentary videos and feedback from peers.
Yet new technologies thrive on a culture of speed, meaning that students often write too fast, making careless mistakes. Posting on Twitter and Facebook is often done quickly, without much thought, and this can translate into their ability to read and digest long and complicated texts. However, while the odd ‘ur’ and ‘i’ still crop up in assignments, many teachers view this as an understandable problem that can be monitored.
Kristen Purcell, director of research for the Pew’s project, explained to ABC News how teachers have come to view social media as a positive avenue for creative expression. "Most teachers told us they wouldn't consider texting or tweeting as formal writing, in the strict sense, but it means students are writing more and they see that as a plus."
But while these comments may be welcome news for tech-savvy students, don’t go abandoning your biro just yet - 94 per cent of the teachers surveyed still encourage their students to write by hand.