Effects of Digital Technology on Academic Writing
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Digital technology has affected every industry in the world from farming to corporate business and everywhere in between. More recently, there has been much debate whether or not these advances in digital technology has hurt or helped in the academic environment specifically. Academic work has traditionally been centered around the individual and what he or she can produce by him or herself. With not only major development in digital technology, but also the major increase in accessibility to such technologies, people now often drift toward group tank work. With this shift from the students, the schools have focused on producing more group-oriented assignments. Many people that this shift causes lack of personal creativity and worsens the critical thinking and writing processes. “The writing we produce is not getting worse. Instead, it is simply adapting to the modern world” (Karp 7). Digital Technology greatly enhances critical thinking, writing processes, and the role of creativity in academic writing.
Digital technology is a broad term for all the aspects that have been developed and affected academic writing and the role creativity and critical thinking play in it. Specifically, the personal computer has greatly benefited a person’s ability to write. Alex Pham, a fellow peer, writes this: “because of how integrated computers are in our lives, they have a direct effect on our actions and thought processes” (Pham 1). He connects how the computer has changed the way we think and write currently from how we did in the past. Before the computer, people wrote one of two ways. The first was by hand, tedious, sloppy, unorganized, and tiring. The second was by typewriter, more professional and organized but if someone made a mistake, they would have to either rewrite the paper or cross out the mistake by hand and write it in by hand, taking away from the professional look. The computer provides word documents where you can edit freely, effectively, copiously, and time efficiently. These word document programs also automatically correct minor grammatical and spelling mistakes, making small technicalities a non-headache. “There are benefits of writing on the computer with word processing software.
The writing process is much faster than handwriting. Making corrections and editing your essay is much easier on the computer. While writing Microsoft Word automatically corrects minor spelling errors and capitalizes words for you” (Schra 3). This, coming from a fellow student, is how most students feel about writing on a computer. It allows people to focus on the more important ideas of their writing, making for a better and stronger argument. “By typing on a computer you can get all of your ideas onto your page without having to be distracted by grammar and punctuation because the word processor will do the work for you and fix your mistakes” (Schra 3). By getting your ideas and main points down on the page without having to worry about the technicalities of writing, like stated by the above student, it allows for a more natural and free flowing thought process that is less likely to be interrupted and disturbed.
Like everything though, writing via personal computer does have its cons. For instance, some people tend to leave work to the last minute because writing on a computer tends to save time compared to handwritten work. This results in poor and faulty work. Another detriment is plagiarism. While plagiarism can exist in handwritten work and did exist with typewritten work, the computer and access to the Internet allows the student to “copy and paste “ work from a source and claim it as his or her own work. Overall however, the computer and word processing applications have greatly helped in academic writing.
Another technological advance that has affected the way people write is the Internet. The Internet is a vast beyond that literally holds limitless amounts of information at our fingertips and allows for people to connect and share ideas. Consuming most of people’s time on the Internet, social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, has greatly impacted the way people write in a few ways. One of the ways is the style in which people write. The Internet introduced the world to Emails, which paved they way for private text messaging, and blogs, which are basically the reduced basic form of any social media website. People could now write to people in the same style that they would talk in essentially; this created a more open field of informal and familiar writing. This is exactly the point made this piece written about the ways the internet has affected the writing process: “networked computers create a new kind of writing space that changes the writing process and the basic rhetorical dynamic between writers and readers” (Vee 1). Annette Vee, who is a PhD student in Composition and Rhetoric, further explains how the Internet provides a free space for users to connect and write.
This leads to the second major influence the Internet has had on writing styles, besides providing and leading the way in informal free writing. This influence is the connection that people have to other people while using the Internet. Social Media websites connect people like never before. People used to just be able to forward their thoughts in the limited time of class they had with their peers. Vee goes onto describe that “Blogs allow students to connect to their peers not only face-to-face in the classroom, but also beyond the classroom, where they must rely more on the words they write than on their personality and verbal delivery” (Vee)”. Now, websites like Facebook and Twitter provide out of classroom talk and discussion among students about their social activities and their coursework. Joseph Harris’ thoughts on coming to terms, forwarding, countering have never been more used and more apparent.
Like never before, people textually communicate how they would normally communicate verbally. People take other writers opinions and stances, understand and usually respect them, and then provide their own feedback, positive (agreeing) or negative (disagreeing), based on the writers work. People constantly, and usually without knowing, forward and counter points people make just because of the natural context of the writing. Karp adds, “essentially, the huge opportunities and options for creating text (email, tweets, blogs) cause us to write (or type) more than we ordinarily would” (Karp). This improves our work by allowing people to build off (come to terms, forward, and counter) each other’s argument more naturally from merely conversing through text. The integration of natural speech into text form causes this exact effect. It’s revolutionary, astounding, and beneficial by immeasurable means.
It is certain and undeniable that various forms of technology have affected they way we think and work. The argument, however, is if this increasing digital technology bettered or worsened our critical thinking and creative skills and in turn, our writing skills. Basically, the positive, digital technology bettered writing skills, side of the argument, the arguments of smoother and more natural thought processing, group work being beneficial, and easy access to information can be made. On the other hand, the counter arguments made are less thought out work as a result of laziness, distractions, and cheating. Yes, these counter arguments are noteworthy and credible, but they don’t take into account the type of learner a student is. Some students work better when in groups, and after all isn’t that what jobs focus on later on in life? Some students produce better work if listening to music or conversing with friends while working.
And while students to cheat and plagiarize, can it not be taught that students can take others work and build upon it indefinitely to make something new and personal to them? The pros of digital technology on writing far outweigh the cons. The only concerning thought about the immersion of digital technology was expressed in my blog by nearly all the students, but greatly stated by Alex Pham: “I think it’s unfortunate that technology is becoming the oxygen that everyone needs constantly, because there is so much more surrounding us that we should take in” (Pham 3). Has technology become too integrated in our lives? Maybe, maybe not, but as it stands, its effects as far as critical thinking, creativity, and writing go propelled academic writing far beyond what it was and allowed people to achieve greater work.
Harris, Joseph. Rewriting. N.p.: Utah State UP; 1 Edition, 2006. Print. Karp, Joseph. “Spotlight on Digital Media And Learning.” Does Digital Media Make Us Bad Writers? N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. . Pham, Alexander, Zander Qukali, and Alexader Crandall. “Effects of Digital Technology on Academic Writing.” RIT Section 26 Group 1, n.d. Web. . Schra, A. “Write or Wrong: Does Technology Benefit the Writing Process?” Http://blog.lib.umn.edu/. N.p., 18 Dec. 2009. Web. . Vee, Annette. “Why Use Blogs in Your Teaching?” Www.annettevee.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. .