The survey was conducted by the UK’s National Literacy Trust with a sample size of 3,001 school children aged nine and showed that 16. 24% had their own blog, 82% sent text messages at least once a month, and 73% used instant messaging services, according to the BBC’s report.
Students who used social networking or blogged trumped their less tech-savvy counterparts in writing skills–by their own assessment. 61% of the bloggers and 56% of the social networkers rated their writing as “good” or “very good,” while only 47% of students who performed neither activity felt the same way. Almost all of the students still used pen and paper in the classroom.
Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, told BBC News. “Engagement with online technology drives their enthusiasm for writing short stories, letters, song lyrics or diaries.”
I do trust that assessment (though the survey itself is lacking). Those students practice writing more often, and share their enthusiasm with their friends. Peer review does lead to better writing. But I would also like to see any cross tabs that detail their income levels, and whether their parents (or caregivers) were college educated.
We’ve all heard about the digital divide, where lower income students lack Internet access. This could be just another example of it manifesting itself. Though, direction from teachers and parents still matters a great deal.
We’ve also heard the story about the student who handed in a paper written entirely in SMS shorthand. That is an example of a student that was given proper direction about what is the appropriate use of that technology. The National Literacy Trust acknowledged that was an area that needed attention.
Technology can cut both ways, as another study, published in 2005, concluded that it was detrimental to learning. The latter study included 100,000 pupils in 31 countries.