Some time ago, I setup a wiki as a companion site to a blog entry or workshop to capture ideas about…

Howdy! My name is Miguel Guhlin and I’m a writer, educator, and technologist. I need your help and hope that our resulting collaboration will be useful to others. I’m trying to justify the expense of technology to impact writing. I’m looking less for anecdotes than I am “hard research,” whatever that is. However, stories are powerful, so I’m asking that if you have either to share, to add them below in the appropriate section. Using the information here, I intend to justify technology advocacy in my district and other places.

Add Your Research/Stories Below

Research on how Technology Impacts Writing

Stories From the Classroom on How Tech Impacts Writing

So, I’ll share what I have so far with the understanding that this wiki is now history:

Research on how Technology Impacts Writing
Scardamalia and Bereiter were some of the earlier researchers in this area. They created an environment called “CSILE” and later “Knowledge Forum.” These technologies were designed specifically to encourage certain writing practices through the use of procedural facilitations (prompts). These were also networked environments so the students could share and critique one another. One place to read about it:

Scaramalia, M. & Bereiter, C. (1996). Computer Support for Knowledge-Building Communities. In Koschmann, T. (Ed.), CSCL: Theory and Practice of an Emerging Paradigm (pp. 249-68). Mahwah, NJ; London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

This is another early study on the effect of audience on students’ writing:
Cohen, M. & Riel, M. (1989). The Effect of Distant Audiences on Students’ Writing. American Educational Research Journal 26(2), 143-159.

(see also:)
Riel, M. (1985). The Computer Chronicles Newswire: A functional learning environment for acquiring literacy skills. Journal of Educational Computing Research 1(3), 317-337.

This paper is about a study that looks at how audience affected students’ writing process on a wiki:

Forte, Andrea and Amy Bruckman. (2006) From Wikipedia to the classroom: exploring online publication and learning. Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Bloomington, IN.

Impact of Electronic Communication on Writing

How does the increased use of technology impact student performance and writing?

Learning with Technology
Rapid technological advances in the last decade have sparked educational practitioners’
interest in utilizing laptops as an instructional tool to improve student learning. There
is substantial evidence that using technology as an instructional tool enhances student
learning and educational outcomes. Past research suggests that compared to their non-
laptop counterparts, students in classrooms that provide all students with their own lap-
tops spend more time involved in collaborative work, participate in more project-based
instruction, produce writing of higher quality and greater length, gain increased access to
information, improve research analysis skills, and spend more time doing homework on
computers. Research has also shown that these students direct their own learning, report
a greater reliance on active learning strategies, readily engage in problem solving and
critical thinking, and consistently show deeper and more flexible uses of technology than
students without individual laptops. The study presented here examined the impact of
participation in a laptop program on student achievement.

Verbal/Linguistic intelligence: The ability to think, communicate, and create through words both in speech and in writing.

  • Computer software which allows young children to write and illustrate their own stories before their fine motor skills are developed enough to allow them to do so by hand.
  • Word processing software stimulates learners to interact more closely with their work.
  • Audio and video recording can give students instant feedback on their story-telling skills and can help them develop them further.
  • Multimedia software helps students produce multimedia reports.
  • Telecommunications programs link students who correspond in writing.

Multimedia Schools, Jan-Feb 2002 v9 i1 p32(4)Digital Storytelling: finds its place in the classroom. (the Place Project) Tom Banaszewski.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2002 Information Today, Inc.
My fourth and fifth graders may never say so, but the Place Project was all about storytelling. At the beginning of the school year, students answered a survey about writing that asked, “Are you a writer?” Sixty percent responded yes. After the Place Project, they responded to the same survey. “Are you a writer?” Ninety-nine percent said yes. Nothing is foolproof, but I have yet to find anything as motivating and influential on students’ self-expression as helping them tell stories about an important place. The added dimension of video provided a meeting place for these students and their creativity.
Provided by Miguel Guhlin,, San Antonio, Tx

Technical Communication, May 2002 v49 i2 p256(1)Textbooks versus technology: teaching professional writing to the next generation of technical communicators. (Education). Janice Tovey.
J. D. Jenson and D. Morrison. 2001. IEEE transactions on professional communication 44, no. 4:243-266.
“This study used quantitative and qualitative measures to determine differences in learning outcomes between two sections of an advanced technical writing course taught by the same instructor. The instructor used traditional textbook methods in one and technology-enhanced methods in the other. The findings upheld those of previous studies in that students in the experimental groups rated both the course and their learning higher than that of their counterparts in the control group. Although fewer significant differences than expected resulted from the many measures taken, substantive positive differences in the writing submitted by students in the experimental groups did occur. In order for such changes in performance to emerge as statistically significant differences, evaluation criteria for technical communication students may need to change.”

College Teaching, Spring 2004 v52 i2 p69(7)Appropriate technology and journal writing: structured dialogues that enhance learning. James Longhurst; Scott A. Sandage.
Abstract. Of the many available options, instructors should choose “appropriate technology” that meets pedagogical goals with minimum disruption. Student journal assignments follow many teaching “best practices” but consume time and energy; we recommend e-mail as the most appropriate choice for journal assignments. E-mail encourages fast and personalized feedback, clear application of course materials, and active learning, and it offers a “structured dialogue” that encourages student-faculty interaction within pedagogically and logistically appropriate boundaries. Choosing pedagogically appropriate technology with the lowest support requirement and the simplest learning curve encourages faculty adoption and student learning alike.


Blogs and Writing
I have wondered, too, whether technology affects writing. I have used a blog the last two years in an effort to publish my students’ writings to a wider audience. I wonder, among other things, whether the mere fact that the studetns know others will be reading and commenting on their work instead of just having me look at it or having it on a bulletin board makes a difference. I have worked hard at giving them a wide audience and connecting with other classrooms around the world but I still don’t have hard evidence whether it all makes a difference. I have a lot to learn about good writing instruction and hopefully I can marry my knowledge of these new technolgies with the good writing instruction. Until then I do know that the studetns definitly want writing time. There are audible groans when it’s not on the schedule. And I do know they REALLY have a sense of audience. As One of my students said, “Man, I can’t belive it! Someone from China is reading our stuff!” Those little things keep me going.
Gordon Brune
5th Grade Teacher
Mamaroneck, NY

On Group Share in Writing Workshop
One of the most exciting times during any class was Group Share. This is when we all sat in a circle and listened to what we’d written (I wrote, too). It was a wonderful experience…powerful to me as a new teacher, and even more astonishing now that I look back on it from my experiences in San Antonio and East Texas schools. Yet, sharing has always been an important part of my classroom, as has been working in the excitement of doing things differently. One of my favorites was using Marjorie Franks’ book, “If you’re trying to teach kids how to write, you’ve gotta have this book!” What a wonderful book full of activities, like the clotheline activity I did with my students.

I am presently implementing a writing lab using technology. All students k-5 attend the computer lab three times a week for writing
skills. I use some pieces of software to reinforce skills, teach diagramming and use Grammar Rock as part of that program, and then we use the computers to type their stories. The other important part of the program is on-line Criterion Reference which holistically scores their writing. Our middle school teacher also uses these methods. I am also looking into Accelerated Grammar & Spelling and working on a grant to buy laptops for the elementary building. This is in the developmental stages, but I used to teach writing and computer combined years ago (before there were technology TEKS…LOL) and we scored consistently high on our TAKS writing. We were exemplary all those years and our writing scores were in the 90’s. Our scores have faltered since eliminating the program and my superintendent asked me to train teachers and students.
Provided by Caren Harris,Tech. Coord.,Hunt ISD

Subscribe to Around the

Be sure to visit the ShareMore! Wiki.