Dr. Guiseppe Getto, Ph.D.

The Art of Teaching Writing in the Digital Age

The Art of Teaching Writing in the Digital Age


(many thanks to Jessica Rivait for collaborating on this article)

Like Bill Hart-Davidson et al, I am interested in ‘evidence-based’ learning, or teaching writing by making it visible as it evolves and intervening in that process in key places. This is one of the major opportunities of digital writing: it makes student writing visible in new ways and to multiple audiences, such as teachers, other students, or even community partners outside the classroom.

Evidence-based learning through digital writing is all about assembling a toolkit within a class that enables all the participants in that class to collaborate, assist each other, and learn from one another. It is about creating dynamic hubs of writerly activity in which learning can happen.

My Personal Toolkit

  • WordPress.org, the course site or main hub hosted on a custom domain like this: http://guiseppegetto.com/cpn100/. If you don’t know WordPress or how to host a website, you’d need help from someone like me to do this.
  • Tumblr, a simple blogging platform, which can be made commentable via disqus. Tumblr is easy to set up and use. Here’s a link to help you.
  • Twitter, a ‘micro-blogging’ platform and news feed. Here’s a good explanation of what Twitter is.

Some Additional Tools for Fostering Digital Writing

  • Many institutions have a version of WordPress.com (kind of like Blogger, but better 😉
  • Jing allows you to take screenshots and screencasts and host those online. The zoom feature allows you to focus on the exact details that you want to show.
  • Camtasia (which I got SUNY Cortland to acquire a license to) is proprietary video capturing software that allows you to record and edit screencasts before making them public.
  • Digital recorders, like the Sony digital audio recorder ($99), allow you to capture your own crisp audio and upload it online.
  • Audacity is audio recording and editing freeware that allows you to carefully choose how you represent yourself through sound.
  • The MS Word Commenting feature allows reviewers to comment on documents in ways that do not disrupt authors’ original words. Here‘s a Youtube video explaining how to use it.
  • The “Google Cloud” (www.google.com) is the umbrella term for Google freeware technologies. The Google Cloud includes Gmail, Gmail video chat, Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), and Google Groups. These technologies allow for commenting, sharing, collaborating, and active conversation and include tutorials on how to make the most of them. There is a SUNY Cortland Google Apps suite… that is identical to the services you can get by creating a gmail account.

Activity: What’s Your Personal Toolkit?

  • Gather together in groups of 3-4 and discuss your personal teaching toolkit. The following questions may help you focus your discussion:
    1. What technologies do you currently use to teach and write? What do these technologies enable you to do as a teacher and writer?
    2. Where are gaps in your work as a teacher and writer? What do you wish you could do that existing technologies won’t let you do?
    3. Using the example technologies above, help each other plug these gaps with tools. If none of the tools work for your problem, try to find another one online.
    4. OPTIONAL: invent a new writing technology that would solve your problems ;-).
    5. What additional questions does your group have about teaching and writing with technology?

A Few Books/Resources on Digital Writing