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4 Unique Ways That 1:1 Technology Can Transform Student Writing

by Kelly Walsh on June 6, 2012


Writing in digital spaces will provide learning opportunities you won’t get from traditional writing assignments.

Guest post by Neven Jurkovic.

No matter what grade you teach, 1:1 technology has the power to transform your writing classroom.  Here are four key ways in which your students can learn to write more effectively only with the help of technology.

Writing in digital spaces:  Digital writing is fundamentally different than the paper/pencil writing that has traditionally been done in the classroom.  The differing use of space, the inclusion of hyperlinks, and the possibility of merging text with multimedia make digital writing a truly separate skill from writing a traditional essay on paper for a teacher to read.  The ability to write successfully and powerfully in an online format must be taught and practiced like any other skill.  1:1 access to technology provides students with the ability to do just that.

Writing for real audiences:  1:1 technology also allows students to write for an audience that extends beyond the walls of the classroom.  As a result, it forces students to think critically about reeling in a potential reader.  Catchy titles, accurate post tags/categories, and well-crafted introductory hooks are essential in gaining a larger audience for one’s digital writing.  There’s simply no way to fully replicate this when writing on paper for a captive, limited audience of just your teacher or even your classmates.

Collaborative writing and peer editing:  The ability for students to collaborate together as they write (or to peer-edit their writing once a draft is complete) is enhanced greatly through the use of 1:1 technology.  In a Google Document, for example, students can view each other’s writing and editing in real time.  An entire group of students can get together to discuss how to best write a tricky sentence or paragraph, and Google’s revision history tool allows both students and teachers to look back at the entire editing process after the fact.  Whereas in the past a teacher often only saw a student’s final, edited project, now that same teacher can see the thinking and revision work behind that finished piece as well.

Becoming a digital citizen:  In contrast to traditional school writing, digital writing is often not just a one-way form of communication.  Students must learn how to be an effective digital citizen; they must be able to engage enthusiastically with people who comment on their work and also comment thoughtfully on the works of others.  They need to understand that their work is a digital footprint that has the potential to remain visible forever and that they can begin shaping a positive digital identity through their work right now.  Again, no similar offline substitute for this exists.

Digital writing involves much more than simply having students type what they would have written on paper into Microsoft Word.  As outlined above, it is a separate skill that must be taught, and providing students with ubiquitous access to 1:1 technology is an ideal way to help make that happen.

About the Author: Neven Jurkovic’s interest in teaching mathematics with technology developed while pursuing a Master of Science degree at Southwest Texas State University. Apart from publishing a number of papers on the application of artificial intelligence in elementary mathematics problem solving, Neven is the creator of Algebrator, a widely used math tutoring software.  Currently, he lives in San Antonio, TX and is the CEO of Softmath:

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Why Every Student Should Be In a 1:1 Classroom

Should hands-on technology be kept out of early grades? When is it okay to introduce technology?

The Flipped Classroom is Hot, Hot, Hot


Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester, in White Plains, NY, where he also teaches. In 2009, Walsh founded As an education and instructional technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, regularly running Flipped Class Workshops online. His eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book is available here. Kelly also writes, records, and performs original music ... stop by and have a listen!

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, or those of other writers, and not those of my employer. - K. Walsh]

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Darryl July 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm

As a tutor for over 12 years, this is a cogent analysis of how technology is not only changing the learning format, but the actual product. Darryl from

Karen June 13, 2012 at 11:16 am

Totally agree with your ideas! Even students who believed that they were not good at creative writing, can excel using technology. Suddenly, they have access to images and video clips that inspire them, providing a launch pad for a great story. They can feel confident using online comic creators, and bring a piece of writing to life through images, sound and a voice recording. They can create a ‘Found Poem’ by appropriating lines and phrases from poems, online news articles, stories, etc, and combining them to create an original text. They can create multiple endings, change a genre or transform a hero into a villain through hyperlinks – even more fun if it is done collaboratively! Technology unleashes their creativity by enabling them to feel confident and supported.

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