I know it’s hard to believe, but here’s the report. Looking over the report I don’t think there’s anything too surprising in it. Some seems a little silly. For instance, 96% of the AP and NWP teachers surveyed agree (including 52% who strongly agree) that digital technologies “allow students to share their work with a wider and more varied audience.” I’m sorry. Isn’t this a statement of fact? What do the other 4% think the Internet does?
It’s a little surprising that 78% give some kind of multimedia assignment. I wonder how that plays out when one includes non-AP teachers? For comparisons sake, that’s basically the same result as for “research paper.” They also largely agree that students write more and a wider variety of things, that digital tools encourage creativity and collaboration, and that digital media is more immersive, broadens perspectives, and encourages learning. On the flipside they are concerned about attention spans, plagiarism, and the blurring of “formal” and “informal” writing. They say students struggle with reading longer difficult texts, synthesizing information into writing, and composing arguments. Since I’m in the middle of writing my second book, I’ll admit to struggling with those things too.
In other news, dog bites man.
It would be interesting to compare this survey from one done 10 or 15 years ago. Of course, such a study wouldn’t have been done 10 years ago, and maybe that’s the most striking point. Here’s the other striking point: how do you think this survey would turn out if it were directed at tenured college professors? Would we imagine that 78% give some kind of multimedia assignment? What percentage would have their students using collaborative composing tools?
My overall sense of this report is that digital composing is becoming a measurable part of the educational landscape. Yes, these are the leading edge teachers, and probably the best-supported ones. so these results are not indicative of the general scene. But this is the direction. However it is also a direction that is still not well-understood. Or at least the understanding isn’t well-represented here. Digital tools encourage creativity and collaboration? OK. Don’t they change what we mean when we say we are “being creative”? Don’t they fundamentally alter the terms and stakes of collaboration? That is, these are not terms that can just be transported from before the Internet to after. If we don’t attempt to rethink composing on more basic terms, we aren’t going to get this.
On that note, back to struggling with that book manuscript.