Digital Writing: A New Era


What is Digital Writing? Why does it matter?

While it may not be something you think of, you digital write every day, multiple times a day. It allows for interpretation, builds relationships, is a way of communication, and is used in throughout every person’s life, through work, recreationally, and in school.  Digital writing is computer-based writing that is crafted from previous knowledge and skills of the writer. While we see digital writing as words on a screen or paper, in “Because Digital Writing Matters” by Daniel Devoss, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, and Troy Hicks, they explain that digital writing as much more than what meets the eye, “digital writing is more than just a skill; it is a means of interfacing with ideas and with the world, a mode of thinking and expressing in all grades and disciplines” (2010). Digital writing plays a role in lives of so many people, not just those in the classroom. It has changed the thought of literacy throughout our world. It influences how we communicate with one another, through email, twitter, blogs, and text messaging. How we learn, through software that can be downloaded, Microsoft Word, and a galore of different websites with infinite information. Digital writing has even effected how we digest information over time, every lecture is matched with a power point where we can take notes with on a tablet and share with colleagues and friends. Whether it is obvious or not, digital writing, through technology is impacting and changing our world.

Digital writing is something that we, the younger generation, often referred to as “digital natives”, the “Net generation”, and “tech savvy”, can relate too and understand. We are constantly on our computers, iPads, and iPhones, texting, typing papers and doing research, using software like Microsoft Office, on twitter, and blogging. In today’s society, and with us digital natives being so in-tune with technological advances, we see digital writing everywhere, primarily because devices like computers and iPhones have become part of our culture. Cathy J. Pearman & Deanne Camp explain this further in their journal “Digital Writing: The Future of Writing is Now” by saying, “However, it is interesting to note while students are taking part in all this writing, they do not often call it writing. Students report writing is something they do while in school” (2014). We see writing all the time on devices, so we are more likely to do writing on those devices without even thinking about it. If you think about it, how many minutes a day do you think you spend on your phone? How much of it do you consider writing? Although it may not be sitting in class taking notes, or typing a paper in the library, a comment on Instagram, a quick blog post, a tweet, are all forms of digital writing that we partake in on a daily basis. Students are “digital natives who rely on mobile devices operating in continuous wireless networks” (Pearman & Camp, 2014).

Changing the Context

            Digital writing has been so widely used that it is changing the context of writing. Pen and paper writing is being thrown out the window, as online publishing is able to spread and receive feedback from other people, multimedia is able to be used to include hyperlinks, photos, and sounds. “The National Governors’ Association and Council of Cief State School Officers reinforce this idea of collaboration by recommending studnets “use technology including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others” (Pearman & Camp 2014).


Students are no longer using pencil and paper to write essays or do homework assignments, as many assignments are online where the teacher can comment on your work and give feedback, creating a student teacher relationship that can improve learning in the classroom. In his article, “Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs”, Pete Rorabaugh writes, “Thesis statements and the discussion about them are posted to the digital environment, and commenting on peer thesis statements becomes an assignment” (2012). Digital writing isn’t just taking place in the classroom, it grows online. Rorabaugh is explaining that people make thesis statements, arguments, agreements, comments, everything that is a part of an essay, online. Through twitter, blogs, articles, academic journals, a topic can expand and grow in an infinite number of directions. Through digital writing, we have changed the context of what writing means, it has become an adequate way for us to write compared to pen and pencil.

Digital Writing in the Classroom

Throughout the past generation or so, technology has evolved tremendously, along with the way we use it, at home and work, on the streets, and in the classroom. With advancements in technology comes adaptation, some becoming more adaptive than others. Our generation has adapted and embedded technology into our lives. “New millennium learners are not only more skilled and adept at using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) than their teachers; they have also been shaped by it in terms of their patterns of thinking and communication, notions of learning, needs for control, and even their personal and social values” (Gu, Zhu, and Guo 2013). We know how software works, the ins and outs of it all, often times more than our parents and teachers combined. Because kids and younger adults are so accustomed to using technology, elementary schools, high schools, and colleges around the globe are finding ways to integrate technology within the classroom setting. Things like this is what is boosting digital writing around the world, through class websites, allowing students to comment and peer review others work, chatting with professors, etc.

Although, while we are in a day and age where technology is relevant and sometimes expected, some do have negative opinions. There are classrooms where teachers prefer to stay away from the use of technology, whether it be to help class lectures, increase discussion, or they merely think of it as a distraction. While this may be true in some cases, a national study in 2001 showed that 87% of faculty believe computer technology enhances student learning (Lavin, Korte, and Davies, n.d.). While it’s nearly undeniable that technology is a great use for education, it is dependent on the teacher and students to use whatever the technology may be, in an effective manner. “It’s how we use it that matters, we tell ourselves. The implication, comforting in its hubris, is that we’re in control” (Carr 2010). Without putting it to use, technology cannot be of assistance to us. With the acceptance, proper use, and understanding of the social and individual influences of technology, things like digital writing can flourish and be beneficial to students and professors in the classroom.


What Does Digital Writing Offer to Students at Dickinson?

We live in a society where technological evolution is happening in just about every aspect of life, so quickly and so often. We have grown up in an era where computers, cell phones, tablets, and more have become necessities of everyday life. With these devices glued to people’s hands and always in pockets, they have impacted the way we communicate with one another, learn, teach, and write. Because our environment is growing and becoming more advanced, we, as humans naturally adapt to the change. We have unlimited knowledge right at our fingertips, that we can access with a touch of a button. Because of all this, digital writing has become acceptable and necessary in schools and businesses throughout the world.

As a college student in 2017, I have become familiar and comfortable with digital writing. Going through the college process, especially here at Dickinson, a sustainable liberal arts school, during a time where technology is becoming so advanced has shown me just how relevant digital writing is. In just about every assignment that I have had during my college career, there has been some type of digital writing involved, whether it be on Microsoft word, power point, Moodle, the internet, etc. Some courses and professors implement digital writing in their syllabus and teaching styles more than others. For example, this class has students look at and engage in online writing a lot more than many of my economics class, through blog posts, online submissions, and more. Many foreign language courses require students to do assignments online, where they can hear correct pronunciations, record themselves, and even engage with students from other countries across the world. Overall, I think that a lot, if not all, of the professors have turned towards digital writing and having assignments online. For example, Moodle, a learning management system, gives students the ability to quickly and efficiently access the professors web pages through their phone or computer, where they can find they syllabus and upcoming assignments and projects. Not only does this fit today’s technical savvy generation of students, but it also compliments Dickinson’s moto of going green and promoting sustainability throughout the campus. Being able to search and download articles and academic journals on the Dickinson library website, find out exactly what your grades are, or how many flex points you have are all attributes that attest to Dickinson’s sustainability and digital success.

As our world becomes more technologically advanced, our economies are going to change. As an economics, major, I have found technology and digital writing to be useful in many ways. For example, collecting and processing data is important in understand how economies work, as technology has advanced over time, this process has become much faster, being able to use software to compile mass amounts of data and creating models. Online journals are huge within the world of economics, publishing findings is a way of communication, allowing others to read and analyze your work. Aplia is a website that is used for assignments, Microsoft office and power points for papers, lectures, and presentations, and there are multiple blog and news sites about the topic. With digital writing in economics, knowledge, discoveries, and other important information are able to be spread and implemented around the world, in a fast and efficient way.

When looking beyond my time here at Dickinson, and what life may bring to me in the business world, I know that digital writing is going to be a major part of it. Through job searching, networking, submitting my resume, and emailing with companies, I have already done a fair bit. Within my real estate development internship last summer, technological advances in data collecting, trying to find new, and use current sustainability methods were used every day. Our generation has become familiar with the ways of technology, which I think puts us in a good position when job searching and eventually entering the business world. We understand how to communicate through computers and cell phones, how they work, our ins and outs of them, putting us in a position for success.








Work Cited


Carr, Nicholas G. The Shallows What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. W.W. Norton, 2011.

DeVoss, D. E., Eidman-Aadahl, E., & Hicks, T. (2010). Because digital writing matters.     Hoboken, NJ: JosseyBass, Publishers.

Gu, X., Zhu, Y., & Guo, X. (2013). Meeting the “Digital Natives”: Understanding  the acceptance of technology in classrooms. Educational Technology and           Society, 16(1), 392–402.

Lavin, A., Korte, L., & Davies, T. (2009). The impact of classroom technology on   student behavior. Journal of Technology Research, 2, 1–13.

Pearman, Cathy J., and Deanne Camp. “Digital Writing: The Future of Writing is Now.” Journal    of Reading Education, vol. 39, no. 3, 2014, pp. 29–32.

Rorabaugh, Pete. “Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs.” Hybrid Pedagogy, 21   June 2012,  seeds-and-organs/.

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