Technology’s effect on writing

laptopWriting a book today is not like it was twenty or thirty years ago. Technology has brought us a long way. No longer are authors writing their novels out in longhand on notepads or typing them on a typewriter. Nowadays, most writers use a word-processing program on their Mac or PC.

Actually, you don’t even need a desktop computer. You can write your novel on a laptop or tablet which allow you to write not just at home but anywhere.

Having your novel in a digital format makes it easier to rewrite chapters or to edit. No longer do you have to type the whole thing over or use correction tape. You can just click your mouse and delete or add whatever you need.

In many ways, technology has helped authors.

If you have problems typing, there is voice-recognition software where you can simply dictate your novel. (Of course, there are companies that will transcribe your dictated work but to me this isn’t the same thing as being able to rewrite or change something right when you think of it versus waiting for your transcribed document to be returned.)

I even have used a voice recorder to take down ideas for my novel as I am working around the house or driving in the car.

But the biggest advancement (besides the word-processing programs would be using the Internet for research. Yes, you can still go to the library to do your research, but the Internet lets you do it quicker and from the comfort of your own home.

Simply type a few words into a search engine, and you can find huge amounts of information on pretty much any subject. So now instead of sifting through heavy books, you can spend hours reading different sites on the various topics.

This of course brings up a problem. There is a lot of misinformation out there. There is no filter for what is published here. You will have to decipher what is the truth about what is posted on the Internet.

But if you want to know how something works or view pictures of videos of a foreign location, it is quite easy to find these things on the Internet.

E-mail also is a big help with being able to converse with experts in the field quicker than sending a letter and without being as intrusive as a phone call.

The Internet through websites and social media outlets also allows readers to better connect with their readers. This allows for greater communication and feedback than ever before.

But being connected, also had its disadvantages. There are so many things that can distract you from writing – Facebook, web surfing, shopping, Twitter, Instagram, e-mail and YouTube. Each of these can be a huge drain on time.

Overall, I think technology makes an author’s life easier as long as you can stay away from those time-sucking other activities.



Using technology with elementary school homework

Last week, I talked about technology in the schools including bringing your own device (BYOD) to class. But the use of technology for kids goes beyond the school room. Kids are expected to use computers and tablet for homework too.

Computer/ipads for homework

Often our homework assignments list websites to visit. Even last year Lexie’s kinder homework sometimes had them going to a site to play a game or watch a video.

The kids have a desktop computer to share in our computer room. This is an older computer that use to be mine at one point until I needed a faster, better one to keep up with my writing, video making and financial software. They also have iPod touches for playing games and music but not really for doing homework.

Now in the area we live in, I would expect most of the students to have access to a computer in their homes. If they don’t, the teachers have told the students they can come in before school to use the classroom computers. I guess there is also the public library as an option.

However, I am not sure they should expect everyone to have a smart phone or tablet….

QR codes in homework

QR codes are everywhere – including in my son’s homework. Quick Response (QR) codes are pixilated bar codes that when scanned by a reader on a smart phone or tablet provide information or link to a website.

Typically, in Jase’s homework, the code links them to a quick video with a short assignment following it.


Sample QR Code – If you scan it, you will “Like” my Facebook Page.

Now there are plenty of free readers for these codes, but I was surprised when I first saw it on the homework. This means the teachers assumed that everyone had a smart phone or a tablet to do the homework. And not everyone does…

On the next week’s homework, there was a note to contact the teachers if you had questions or problems with using the QR codes. But I guess not enough complaints were logged as his homework this week has one video QR code attached.

There is no way to avoid technology, whether it is in the classroom or in their homework. Heck for that matter, there really is no way to avoid technology in our everyday lives either. I think using the tablets and computers can enhance what they are learning as long as they don’t become too dependent on that technology. It is like being able to do math without a calculator….Everyone should know how to do basic adding and subtracting – without resorting to a calculator on their smart phone.


Using technology in elementary school

Today’s students face an ever-changing world of technology that it is no wonder that this technology makes it into the class room. Jase and Lexie’s school is by no means cutting edge, but they aren’t falling behind either.

In Jase’s shared classroom, there are four computers and nine iPads to be shared by the 45 students. I believe Lexie’s class has two computers and maybe two iPads for the 22 students in her class. Of course, the students also have access to two different computer labs.

Now another newer school in our district has an iPad for every student. (They don’t take them home. The devices are for class work only.) The district seems in no hurry to move all the other elementary schools to that same level.

Our school strives to update our technology, but the finances aren’t always there. I know many schools are dealing with the same issues. Technology isn’t cheap, and you have to keep it up-to-date and be able to maintain the infrastructure. To help out our school, last year our PTA gave 14 iPads to the school.

But even if every kid had a computer or iPad at the school, it really wouldn’t necessarily make everything “better.” Technology is just a tool. It isn’t the technology that is going to make a difference in their learning. It is still the teachers and how they use this tool.

I do, however, like that the kids are instructed on computers and tablets as I think it helps prepare them for the future. And it gives children who may not have access to these devices valuable exposure. I also see that using these tools allows kids to unleash creativity in new ways.

Bringing devices to school

ipadNow to combat the cost of providing all students with a laptop or tablet, many schools are allowing students to bring their own device to school. I know that our principal brought it up as an option for fifth graders last year. In middle school and high school that is already an option. In fact, from what I heard (I don’t have a child at those schools) it is almost expected that kids have a smart phone or tablet in class.

At first, I was hesitant about this idea. I mean you don’t want kids texting each other in class or anything like that. But these schools have students’ sign agreements about when and where they can use their devices, and these agreements are strictly enforced. The kids realize the importance of abiding by the agreement, or they lose this privilege.

As part of our kids’ Christmas gift this year, my husband and I are planning on getting the kids their own tablets. With Jase only being two years away from fifth grade, we are keeping in mind that he will probably be bringing this tablet to school at some point.

We are looking to get them the best device we can afford. We don’t want the oldest model out there as it will become obsolete too quickly. We need to ensure we get a device that will run the apps required for school – not just for today but for a few years at least.

And it just isn’t in school that the kids will be using technology…it also shows up in their homework assignments which is my topic for next week.