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Technology is a term that has been tossed around recently because of all the new inventions that have been produced like smartphones and tablets with incredible features to interact with the users. Many people view technology as a product of the digital age, however it has been present since the beginning of mankind. From the Neolithic Revolution with the discovery of fire, to the invention of the wheel, to Gutenberg’s printing press, and the birth of the internet, technology has played a pivotal role in our daily lives.
In addition, it has allowed us to interact with reading and writing material efficiently. To be more specific, electronic and digital technology is currently on the rise and will continue to progress as time goes on. Technology is here to stay therefore society should use it to its benefit. If we take a closer look at how electronic and digital technology is affecting the way we read and write, we see that this is improving students’ education by allowing themthe tools needed to explore topics of interest that will bolster their knowledge and personalize their education.
If you think about it, the birth of the internet created a technological world inside of our planet. This cyberspace is all around us and there is a myriad of ways in with which you could interact with the computer and millions of users to get the information you need. That is the beauty of the world wide web. It was created to get information by users, for users.
Because there are millions of people posting and blogging daily, there is an overflow of information at the tip of our fingers. Thus, making it easy and efficient to get the information we need without the transaction costs- the time and effort spent looking for information. Although many critics of technology believe we are getting false or misleading information which can be detrimental to our reading and writing skills, Thompson argues in his book, “Smarter That You Think”, “we’re also writing a stunning amount of material about things we’re simply interested in – our hobbies, our friends, weird things we’ve read or seen online…” and because of this, there has been an upsurge in the amount of writers in the world (51). Technology is offering more than we can handle which gives us the chance to practice the way we write in an environment in which we feel comfortable to do so. The importance of this is that we do not see this new form of writing as an in class essay or a test but rather a form of self expression that simultaneously helps our writing abilities.
Similarly to the feeling of participating in a competitive sport or giving a speech in front of a crowd, technology has affected our writing skills by creating a psychological effect that makes us perform better than when we aren’t being watched. This can be related to another way technology has affected our writing skills in a positive way by the concept of public thinking. This is when you know that others are going to see what you have created therefore, “you’re doing it with the expectation that someone might read it, even if you’re doing it anonymously” (Thompson 52). The benefits that Clive Thompson mentions about what “the audience effect” has on writers are insurmountable because we are aware that not just our teachers will be reading our work but the possibility that the whole world has access to it. There was an instance in his book in which students started criticizing each others work in order to help their peers out and make their writing better for the world to see. Although they were not aware of these new changes, the teacher noticed this transformation that allowed her student’s writing and collaborative skills to flourish. Instances like these allow our brains to put more thought into our work and the best part is we can write on whatever subject we choose. This new platform is allowing our writing skills to develop even more through practice because of the vast amount of subjects we can talk about. Technology has not only become a tool for writers but a place in which we can vent about anything with a conscious mind that others will be judging our work even if we do not know them.
A concept that skeptics feel very unsure about is how technology is affecting our reading skills in a positive way. Although it is evident that technology does indeed create many distractions while trying to work and may even sidetrack you a bit as Thompson mentions, “People can’t multitask. It’s not possible” (142), that doesn’t take away from the fact that there will still be distractions out of your control regardless. Life throws many curveballs at you especially when trying to get work done which is why it is ultimately up to the user to decide whether he wants to get distracted or not. Being distracted is a situation you can control and technology plays an equal part in that when compared to outside forms. If your excuse is that all the advertisements online are a big distraction to you well you are in luck because Apple recently created a reading tool which is located on the left side of the url bar that allows you to see any piece of text as an article and takes away all forms of distraction such as advertisements and pop ups. In actuality, new forms of technology are being created in order for users to not be distracted and to be more efficient which has an overlying effect on our reading and writing skills.
Just like writing, the amount of reading material has increased, not only that but, as Grant Brunner mentions, “reading has never been easier, and we keep seeing breakthroughs every year. Without a doubt, we have the capacity to be the most well-read generation in history”. There is so much reading material uploaded on the Internet that you can basically read about anything and because of that you are getting the practice you need whether you realize it or not. There are many benefits to readingonline such as an increase in your vocabulary and being more knowledgeable with more subject areas which in the end, correlates to better writing skills. Referencing the article previously stated, “It’s not all about hardware, though. Content availability and pricing are a huge factor in this reading renaissance. Places like Project Gutenberg, Google Books, and the Internet Archive are offering countless public domain and creative commons books”. The matter of the fact is that even the skeptics use the internet and technology to find information because it is convenient. Technology keeps us aware of how we are all connected because of the astonishing amount of material online that makes reading and writing easier and more engaging. As we engage in more reading material, we are using that to our advantage as a way to become more literate writers for the world to see.
In high school, I would have had such a hard time if it wasn’t for my MacBook. Because this was a top of the line laptop, I didn’t have to worry about going to the library to find books or write my essays by hand. Technology gave me the power of an immense amount of knowledge in just an instant which granted me more time to focus on other work. During my senior year of high school every student was given an iPad which spurred an increase in learning material. The activities in the classroom were interactive which caused more participation and higher levels of engagement. We all have to face the reality that technology keeps playing more roles in our lives and is a part of our new curriculum. In the article, “5 Ways Technology Has Changed the way we Read and Learn” we are told how today’s students “… will take notes on tablets, follow along to lessons, have interactive virtual assignments, email homework and papers to the teacher for grading, keep all of their textbooks in one computer, and even take tests online with their tablets”. It is imperative that we as a society accept this ongoing truth and instead of arguing about all of the bad effects technology has on reading and writing, we should work together to find more ways in which it could continue to keep the online reading and writing revolution alive.
One of the most important features that technology gives users is repetitive practice. Because every person learns at their own level, technology advancements such as Khan Academy and other interactive programs, have made it easier for the users to go back and practice on the skills they need. It is important to note that people work at different paces and if we want them to get the best learning experience, we need to introduce more online programs that will track the level they are in in order to keep practicing what they struggle on. As Ted Hasselbring tells us, “In a classroom full of struggling readers with different needs, teachers simply don’t have the time to set up tailored practice drills for every child”. It comes down to the fact that kids like technology and it is showing positive outcomes in their reading and writing process because of the level of personalization these new online computer programs are giving out.
In conclusion, every new invention will cause skepticism in the public because people are afraid of change. In order to continue to help people with their reading and writing skills we need to teach them how to use technology so that they can be more efficient in their work and get more practice. We should be grateful for technology because of the abundance of information it gives us as well as how fast we obtain it. As digital technology continues to improve we will have a more personalized learning experience that will improve our reading and writing skills more than they have been already.
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