Talking Through Technology

Do you know what “LOL” means? How about “TTYL?”

Many teachers are learning these popular texting terms simply by grading their students’ assignments. According to a recent report, 38 percent of students have used abbreviations like these in school papers (On Texts, Tech and Teens).

For some, the study raises concerns about students’ abilities to write in a formal context. Others feel this “technology talk” is actually encouraging students to write. Teens are spending quite a bit of time in chat rooms and sending texts, but few of them actually consider this to be writing. Just a fraction of the time spent on these wireless communications appears to be applied to writing for school assignments.

Obviously, texting and other forms of high-tech communication are here to stay. Instead of trying to veer teens away from this, we need look at how we can translate such outlets into learning opportunities.

Additional questions to consider:

How can educators foster an enthusiasm for writing in school, similar to the one teens have for writing texts and e-mails?

What assignments can be generated to integrate online communication mediums into formalized writing coursework, yet still keep students engaged?

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