Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The new face of literacy

My thanks to the tireless director of the University Writing Center for calling my attention to this article on the directions in which technology is pushing literacy.

Question for discussion: what might math students stand to gain by employing Twitter-like brevity in describing mathematical phenomena?


Derek said...

This sentence in the essay stood out to me: "The Stanford students were almost always less enthusiastic about their in-class writing because it had no audience but the professor: It didn't serve any purpose other than to get them a grade."

I told the students in my summer cryptography course that I would be posting their expository papers to the course blog and asking each students to comment on at least two other students' papers. You can see the results.

Many of my students said that writing for their peers (an actual audience) helped them step up their game on this assignment. I'm increasingly convinced that students should have "real" audiences for at least some of their writing assignments (audiences other than their professors), something made much easier by social media technologies.

I didn't answer your question about Twitter-speak. I'll have to get back to you on that. Only so many characters here, you know. =)

DocTurtle said...

Derek, as usual, I'm in absolute agreement. The exercises in my intro to proofs course which are most popular with the students (and which they find most meaningful and helpful) are those in which they're asked to construct a dialogue with a friend, explaining "in their own words" a particular mathematical concept. The injection of an audience into the student's writing gives extra force by helping the student to focus her thoughts in yet another dimension, skew (but not necessarily perpendicular to!) content and style.