Would U Believe Students Can Use Social Media For Writing Help??

Article by Renesha Poole | 690 words

Twitter writing

Credit: CDN.PRNewsOnline.com

Social media hasn’t always gotten the best rap in academia and definitely wouldn’t be a first choice in writing help for college students. Often cited as a reason for poor grades, especially in english, social media seems like nothing more than a distraction that teachers want to keep out of their classrooms. Yet, social media’s role in schools is shifting from a nuisance to an educational tool as teachers use the influence that social media has on their students to improve their writing.

Teachers are aware that writing online does little to improve their students’ understanding of spelling and grammatical conventions. Jennifer Woollven, an English teacher at West Lake High School in Austin, Texas, states, “I see a lot of writing that has text language: ‘ur’ for ‘your’ or not capitalizing words.” In a Pew Study that examined social media’s effects on students’ writing, 40 percent of teachers asserted that digital technology makes students more likely to use poor spelling and grammar. So, why would any teacher advocate for the use of social media to improve writing?

Help Open the Personal Side of Writing

Teachers want their students to move beyond the rigidity of writing conventions to create meaningful content. Perhaps social media’s greatest contribution in this area is giving students the opportunity to be reflective and honest without the confinement of written conventions. Despite the mangled English and cryptic acronyms, Facebook statuses and Twitter posts encourage dialogue in which students debate, persuade and discuss. There are no worries about whether their writing is grammatically right or wrong in these realms. Instead, a student’s only concern is getting their thoughts out.

By incorporating social media into the curriculum, teachers want to create an environment that fosters the comfort social media produces. Temporarily dismissing the formality of writing helps students get their thoughts onto paper, which is arguably the most fundamental part of writing. They can correct grammar and punctuation at a later time. Social media has been a depository of creativity in which its participants store and share their most brilliant ideas.

In his article entitled “Facebook Has Transformed My Students’ Writing—for The Better,” teacher Andrew Simmons focuses on the effects of social media on the writings of his male students. Noting that the most profound change is his students’ emotional honesty and self-reflection, he states, “For younger high school boys particularly, social networking has actually improved writing—not the product or the process, but the sensitivity and inward focus required to even begin to produce a draft that will eventually be worth editing.”

Posting on Social Media with Audiences in Mind will Help Writing

The Stanford Study of Writing conducted by rhetoric and writing professor Andrea Lunsford included 15,000 samples from students between 2001 and 2006 that had some interesting findings regarding communication skills.

It was found that the type of writing students do via Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites actually help their communication skills. Social media users excelled at what rhetoricians call kairos—assessing their audience and adapting their tone and technique to best get their point across. This is an important skill for all writers to master, whether they’re composing an article or a novel. Clive Thompson writes in Wired Magazine about this study. “The modern world of online writing, particularly in chat and on discussion threads, is conversational and public, which makes it closer to the Greek tradition of argument than the asynchronous letter and essay writing of 50 years ago,” he explains.

Additionally, Lunsford’s study concluded that students know what constitutes good writing because they are aware of their audience. On social media, students write to debate, persuade and organize, whereas they felt their own purpose for writing school assignments was merely getting a good grade.

It’s clear that social media won’t improve your understanding of grammar, spelling or punctuation. You should probably look elsewhere if you despise folks who care very little about the proper use of their, there and they’re. Additionally, you can’t expect social media to help with writing papers or a book. What you can expect from social media is a dynamic environment that encourages its users to write, to be expressive, and develop more abstract writing skills. By using social media, teachers could witness their students move beyond writing conventions, which are learned through reiteration anyway, to more developed, creative thought processes.

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