Monday, June 15, 2009

Write-Only Media

"Studies Explore Whether the Internet Makes Students Better Writers" in the Chronicle of Higher Education examines a central conflict experienced by many student writers between practicing traditional academic composition designed for the print paradigm and forms of online writing that have proliferated rapidly to suit a variety of social computing situations.

The rise of online media has helped raise a new generation of college students who write far more, and in more-diverse forms, than their predecessors did. But the implications of the shift are hotly debated, both for the future of students' writing and for the college curriculum.

Some scholars say that this new writing is more engaged and more connected to an audience, and that colleges should encourage students to bring lessons from that writing into the classroom. Others argue that tweets and blog posts enforce bad writing habits and have little relevance to the kind of sustained, focused argument that academic work demands.

The article cites a number of friends to Virtualpolitik, such as Andrea Lunsford and Kathleen Yancey, who have been advocates for taking digital writing seriously for many years. On the other side, Mark Bauerlein is held up as the spokesperson for the cultural traditions of the past, although as I point out here in a post that the MacArthur Foundation has linked to, Bauerlein's assessments aren't always as objective as one might hope, given the high profile of The Dumbest Generation.

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