In a recent article, the Asbury Park Press explored the effect of Digital tools on the way our students “write, spell and use proper grammar.” Text-messaging tools and the abbreviated informal language of the Internet filled with emoticons, are producing students who turn in papers incapable of expressing good grammar, displaying critical thinking skills or making a persuasive argument. Without spellcheck or Wikipedia, there is an inability to distinguish when to use “their” and “there.” Too much reliance on Siri or Google for answers has warped their ability to think actively and organize material for various audiences, resulting in plagiarism and fair use. Fair use of course, refers to the use of another person’s work, for instance a few lines of a Bob Dylan song or a poem being used to add value for a new audience. The same would apply to an article on cancer taken from a medical report. The original author does not have to give his/her permission.
Some teachers now advocate that students use handwritten rather than copied notes from their laptops for their papers as a way of making them better able to express their own opinions later on.
THE OTHER SIDE
To be fair there are benefits to digital technology:
The ability to make a strong argument.
To work as a team and use collaborative-editing tools such as Chromebooks and GoogleDocs for Projects.
To read and digest longer and more complicated texts.
To understand and consider multiple viewpoints, sometimes on a global scale on a particular issue or topic.
To give constructive feedback on other students’ work.
The National Asessment of Education Program writing assessment in 2011-12 has found an overall 64% of teens admitted incorporating informal styles from their text-based communications into their writing (smiley faces) and another 38% used shortcuts like “LOL”or “laugh out loud.” R u still wth me?
My biggest concerns manifested themselves recently when I visited my doctors. More than one expressed their frustration with their failure to find new hires who are literate enough to type proper grammatical English, so each doctor has to take face time away from patients to record patient information for OBAMACARE. The patient cues that doctors would otherwise observe, the questions that would be asked are lost for the sake of bureaucracy. As I see it, even if they wanted to hire someone for the position, emoticons and informal language wouldn’t go over well with bureaucrats. Or maybe that’s coming in the next roll-out. Stay tuned!
Polite comments are always welcome.