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by Jesse Stommel Consider the tangible violence technology has wrought upon grammar. We rely on automated grammar and spell-check tools in word-processing software (so much that they’ve become a crutch). E-mail shorthand fails to live up to the grammatical standards of typed or handwritten letters. And many believe our language is being perverted by the shortcuts (and concision nearly to the point of indifference) we’ve become accustomed to writing and reading in text messages and tweets.
Tweeting is not often viewed as an intellectual pursuit. But Twitter can actually improve the English language. A new wave of high school teachers and writing professors have adapted their methods to demand concise writing. They have called for an end to the bullshit that spawns from traditional five-paragraph essay assignments, triple-spaced in 16 point font and ornately orchestrated to prove a lie: I read Hamlet like you told me to; I also understand it and stuff. These bullshit-busting teachers are using Twitter as a guide. At John Jay College, Andy Selsberg makes his English students write typical five-page essays.
Podcasting is becoming increasingly common in classrooms and campuses as universities seek to capitalize on the fact that a majority of U.S. college students now own an iPod or similar MP3 player. In fact, a recent interview with podcasting impresario Rob Walch on NPR's Morning Edition revealed that the top four podcasts hosted by the very popular Liberation Syndication site all featured educational content. Educational podcasting has the potential to help students learn more efficiently and to help instructors disseminate information to students with a wider variety of learning styles. Because of this potential, the use of podcasting as a supplement to classroom practice is one of the more common topics surrounding this emerging technology. However, this approach is but one of many to using podcasting in composition studies, and it addresses but one of several discrete audiences in our discipline—students.
The following is a shortened version of a talk I gave at the " Engaging the Public " symposium held at Washington & Jefferson College on Oct. 1. According to Cathy Davidson's Now You See It , 65 percent of students entering school today will have careers in fields that haven't been invented yet. While #IDontHaveFactsToBackThisUp, I'm willing to make the following prediction about writing: a full 100% of these students, at some point in their lives, will be required to use writing technologies that haven't been invented yet.
Storytelling has been a great part of our school year, which is already winding down.