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A Response to Digital Writing

Written by Sheri Edwards
September 16, 2016

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Digital Writing

My friend Kevin Hodgson [@dogtrax] considers the definition of digital writing on his blog, Kevin’s Meandering Mind. He thoughtfully considers “writing,” “composing,” and “digital writing.” I agree with all his assertions, except one.

I consider blogging to be digital writing. The blog post could be the central focus of a presentation, linking to images, resources, and videos that extend and enhance the author’s message. It requires much more thought and creation than simply writing an essay; the images and links chosen must be thoughtfully considered as part of the design to explain, argue, and present ideas. And as Kevin’s post does, it asks readers to interact with those thoughts by adding their own considerations. The record is displayed in post and comment, available always for further analysis. A blog also shows our thinking — and how our ideas change as we consider the ideas presented by the information we gather in our quest for understanding the world’s ideas.

I’ve been thinking, too, about “What is digital writing?” I’m still deciding, but a few thoughts I shared with Kevin [I added a little here] so far are:

  • When I record assignment directions, I have often stopped myself when the directions are to “write” when I really mean “type” or better yet “compose.” Even here, instead of “write,” in this bullet, I chose “record.” Because the digital assignment directions are recorded in a document for reference. I think of digital writing as something that is both composed and curated or recorded.
  • I’ve also used the word “compose” with students. Looking at the dictionary definitions of compose and write, a crossover exists in their use, but compose includes the words create, invent, produce, orchestrate. I find that more inclusive to my definition of digital writing. I want my students not to regurgitate information, but to produce artifacts that explain or argue their analysis of their learning, using words, images, videos, surveys, interactive media, etc.
  • Margaret Simon [@MargaretGSimon ]mentioned “audience” in her comment on Kevin’s blog. She said, “I must be aware of audience in the digital world. Perhaps it’s that immediate audience that makes it digital.”  The focus on the audience is critical. The writing will be shared for an audience one has considered carefully so that the writing clearly promotes the message; digital writing provides authenticity and meaning to topic, audience, and purpose, the meaning behind the writing.
  • Design is a word I use most often with my students: I want students to consider the reader, the information, the student’s purpose and message, and the presentation — how will they best explain and argue their ideas using text, image, video, interactive media, etc.? It is the digital that allows all of us to design the presentation of our discoveries so others understand how we make sense of the world of information around us, and how we invite others into our journey of understanding.

Digital writing allows students — all of us — the opportunity to present our understanding of the world. Writing is all about clarifying our thoughts, making the learning visible. Digital writing includes tools to make this easier: immediate definitions and searches, curation of resources, surveys to gather information, documents on which we can collaborate with others, grammar corrections, hyperlinks to our resources, sharing options [slides, blogs, videos, annotations], communication with experts through texts and webcams, archiving all our digital gathering of resources.

So, considering those tools as part of our quest for knowledge, is digital writing then a system, a  process, and a product available in many personalized forms as needed by and designed by the author?

The focus for my Language Arts classes are these essential questions:

  • How do researchers investigate successfully?
  • What strategies and processes do collaborators need for success?
  • How do readers and writers determine and develop relevant, accurate, and complete topics?
  • How do publishers design and organize content for their audience and purpose?
  • Why and how do editors and speakers use and edit with the rules for standard English grammar and language ?

It is the availability of digital tools that allow us to consider our ever-growing understanding of these questions.

Digital writing is a personal, systematic organization of tools and strategies that allow for an enhanced  and enriched process of study, curation,  and analysis, often in collaboration with others, to design a multi-faceted publication of the author’s ( or authors’) ideas for a chosen topic and audience, be that audience oneself, a group, or the public.

I’m still thinking about this… and thank you, Kevin,  for always presenting the questions that focus and clarify our work as learners.

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Cross post from: AskWhatElse