Monday, December 8, 2014

Article #6 Word Processing is Controversial?

Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2010, July 20). The Impact of Word Processing in Education. Retrieved December 5, 2014, from

In the article, The Impact of Word Processing in Education, M.D. Roblyer, A. H. Doering argue that even though word processing by students is controversial, its use is growing.

Roblyer and Doering acknowledge that “...word processing has become the most commonly used software in education.” They bullet list the benefits of using word processors including student modification of teacher-created materials instead of creating new documents, and ease of modifications to a document over a typewriter; enhanced document appearance, including use of templates; ease of sharing documents for grading and collaboration with other students.

However, they state that the findings seem to be mixed whether word processing is a benefit or not. They cites finding from three reviews from Bangert-Drowns, 1993; Hawisher, 1989; Snyder, 1993. Based on the findings, it seems that writing only improves on a word processor if good writing instruction is present, and students have the time to learn good word processing skills. Yet, in another cited report from Goldberg, Russell, and Cook (2003) found that studies from 1992 to 2002 show a “stronger relationship between computers and quality of writing than previous such analyses had.” Students seem to revise more as they write with a word processor than they did handwriting or when using a typewriter. Findings show that students also seemed to give and receive feedback with peers and the teacher earlier in the writing process.

Roblyer and Doering explain that educators disagree in many areas in regards to starting students on word processing, on whether keyboarding skills should be taught, and whether word processing leads to a degradation of handwriting.

Evaluating writing on tests seemed to bring forth other concerns. “Roblyer (1997) reviewed research that found that students' word-processed compositions tend to receive lower grades than handwritten ones do.” Roblyer and Doering comment that considerations are needed to ensure evaluators are properly trained, so they do not fault written work that has been done on a word processor.

Roblyer and Doering end by saying that regardless of the mixed findings, word processor use is growing in schools.


I am surprised to find that there were any controversies in regards to the use of word processing. It seems like a no-brainer to me that word processing can only help the writing process. The ability to manipulate the words on the page is a huge benefit to my writing. I used to cut sentences from my typed pages and spread them on the floor in order to arrange them and see what worked best. Now, I cut and paste. Perhaps it is the appearance of on the word processor that allows students to think that their writing is correct. Maybe they think that if it looks nice, it must be well-written. There is no substitution for good writing instruction. Using a word processor becomes just another piece of technology. We are not teaching the use of the tool; we are teaching the subject  and using the tool to augment it.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Article #5 Podcasting for Deeper Understanding

Smart, M. (2008, November 12). Listening to Themselves: Podcasting Takes Lessons Beyond the Classroom. Retrieved December 2, 2014, from
In the article, Listening to Themselves: Podcasting Takes Lessons Beyond the Classroom, Maya Smart writes about how podcasting helps motivate students to take what they have learned and present it in a new and interesting way, while developing writing and speaking skills.
She starts off talking about the students in Brent Coley’s class and how they react when they find out their work will be live on the web. Students at Tovashal Elementary School make podcasts that are posted on iTunes. Brent Coley, a teacher at Tovashal, explains how having their work on the web motivates his students. Their “eyes light up.”  She explains that other teachers are using podcasts and posting them on sites like the Educational Podcast Network and iTunes U K-12.
Smart cites the Pew Internet & American Life Project numbers that show ..."kids ages 12-17 own an iPod or another MP3 player..." That number comes from a 2008 study and probably doesn't even matter today. So many kids now have smartphones with the ability to listen to podcasts. But I think it shows that podcasting in education is even more available than ever, which is a good thing, since she goes on to tell about Fort Sumner Municipal Schools who took part in a in a study where students of Spanish accessed podcasts while on long bus or car rides, and Spanish grades went up.
The next section of the article talks about what a podcasts and how to make one.
Finally, Smart writes about how podcasts help students. She says that, "When used educationally, podcasts can empower students and teachers to become content producers rather than content consumers, and they can give them audiences beyond the classroom. Student-created podcasts reinforce course concepts, develop writing skills, hone speaking ability, and even help parents stay current on classroom activities." Smart quotes Dan Schmit, creator and host of Kidcast: Podcasting in the classroom, who says students get a sense of purpose in their learning. She uses Schmit to make many of her points. Smart explains that podcasting is not only about oral-presentation skills, but also that Schmit says some of the best podcasts spark "sustained academic conversations." It is these conversations that take learning to the next level. Smart shows how back in 1995, David Warlick, an educator, thought workers in the future (now) will need to be able to "...creatively and artistically reshape information and raw material into compelling information products."
I think using podcasts to take what students have learned and put it into a written and oral format is a great way to see how students have processed the material. I’m not sure that just having a podcast on the web is motivation enough today, since many students already have Youtube channels, and Twitter and Instagram accounts. Perhaps the thrill has worn off.
It seems to me that a more social forum like Google+ could be used to to post podcasts and other work, where students could share and comment and comment on comments. Perhaps students would feel more inclined to share and take part; they may feel like they have more at stake. Being in a more social forum could spawn more participation and conversation.