April 26, 2013
5 Myths about Writing with Mobile Devices – from Beth on Edudemic
Beth originally published this article on Edudemic. A few months ago, shortly after the first EdTechTeacher iPad Summit, I spent the day with a college friend out on Cape Cod. In telling me about her daughter's class iPad pilot, my friend seemed both excited and hesitant. At one point in the conversation, she turned to me and said, “The one thing I hate, though, is that writing just stinks on iPad.” Initially, I took a bit of a defensive position and prepared to launch into my iPad is NOT a computer schtick. However, the more I listened - and have since listened - to not only my friend but also educators in workshops, webinars, and conversations, the more I realize that parents, administrators, and even teachers fall victim to 5 Myths of Mobile Writing which lead them to believe that this critical facet of education cannot seemingly occur on a mobile device.
Myth #1 - Writing = KeyboardingBrady Cline, an ICT Coordinator in Bangkok, conducted an informal study in his school to compare the typing capabilities of students using virtual vs. traditional keyboards. While anecdotal evidence over the past 12-18 months has suggested that students adapt to touch-screen keyboards much more easily than adults, Brady’s post provides a set of quantitative data indicating that students can potentially type equally well on both a traditional as well as a virtual keyboard.
“...this study seems to illustrate an important point: adults who have spent decades typing on a traditional keyboard, find it very difficult to imagine that students can be successful typing efficiently on a virtual keyboard. The evidence here, however, does not support this bias.”Once we disconnect the process of writing from the mechanics of typing, then we can begin to look at the potential of mobile devices.
Myth #2 - Writing = Word ProcessingSuzy Brooks - who is piloting BYOD with her third graders this year in Falmouth. She responded by saying, “I don’t think my students know what word processing means.” Many adults have come to associate writing with Word - as in Microsoft Word. In fact, one of the most common questions that we get at EdTechTeacher when talking with schools who are moving towards iPad programs is “What about Word?” While a host of Word-like apps exist, thinking beyond the traditional word processor opens up so many other avenues. For example, Drive allows for collaborative writing, while AudioNote (iPad or Android) syncs recorded audio with typed or written words, and Evernote makes written content available on any device. During one of my first years as Director of Academic Technology at St. Michael’s, I got in a heated discussion with a parent over my decision to NOT put Microsoft Word in the computer lab. As an all Mac school, it made more sense for us to go with iWork over Office. The parent asked how I could be preparing his child for the workplace without teaching Microsoft. My response then is similar to my reaction with mobile devices. “It doesn’t matter what tool I teach your child to use right now.” I told the parent. “By the time she begins working, it will all be different anyways. I just need to teach your child how to learn to use the technology.” Much like writing does not equal typing, it also is not word processing. In fact, Suzy uses Educreations - technically a screen casting tool - for everything with her students: drawing, writing, recording audio, and screencasting. They have mastered the app as well as its workflow, allowing her students to focus on the task rather than the tool.
Myth #3 - Device = ProcessT21 program. This group explored integrating Notability, Pages, Dropbox, and Evernote as part of their writing instruction (a concept Greg refers to as App Smashing). However, after exploring the process in which they wanted students to engage, it became clear that they would use not only iPad but also paper. Whether it is iPad, Nexus, Chromebook, Macbook, or Windows laptop, with writing, the focal point should be the process: from idea to outline to editing to final. When teaching in a computer lab, my students integrated technology at various stages depending on their learning needs. While all students followed the path outlined below, they shifted from paper to computer at varying stages. Digital Writing Process for My Students (Grades 2-8)
- Graphic Organizer(s)
- Draft #1
- Editing Checklist:
- Turn On Track Changes
- Check spelling
- Listen sentence-by-sentence
- Listen paragraph-by-paragraph
- Listen to the full piece
- Accept Changes
- Turn in Draft #2
Myth #4 - Writing = Text
“With writing on iPad - students who HATE writing to actually do it without thinking they are writing at all. They actually think we haven't had "writing" in a day or so when iPads have been used.” - Suzy BrooksIf the writing infers a process used to generate and communicate a coherent idea or concept, then why do we make the assumption that the communication has to occur solely through text? By expanding upon our definition of “writing” with mobile devices, then the possible becomes redefined.
Myth #5 - Writing = EssaysRedefine our expectations. What if....
- Students created eBooks that included text, images, audio recordings of their own reflections, videos, and/or screencasts to demonstrate their understanding rather than type a standard essay or report.
- Students created and maintained blogs such that they not only posted articles but also wrote and responded to comments that challenged them to think critically in new directions.
- Students created and curated digital magazines that combined their own writing as well as digital artifacts, images, and other articles.