Writing Digitally & Digital Literacy

Today I was able to attend an online panel presentation- Creating a Culture of Learning: How Librarians Keep up with Digital Media & Technology– that was sponsored by ALA’s Office of Information Technology Policy Digital Literacy Task Force. Panelists discussed how they keep up with technology to help library patrons, work within their library communities, and as a quest for lifelong learning. Following not only the comments on the YouTube streaming page, I paid attention to (and participated in) the live twitter discussion. In the span of the hour I heard about numerous apps that will definitely shape digital writing in the future.

So since I’ve been (pseudo) participating in Digital Writing Month the questions I have forming about technologies, teaching library users, and teaching myself, all relate back to the bridge between digital literacy and digital writing. Is it necessary for one to be an effective analog writer before becoming an effective digital writer? Is successful digital writing predicated by successful analog writing? How is writing digitally different than writing with pen and paper? Do students and faculty and empowered citizens need to have analog writing skills and digital writing skills? Or will digital writing skills utterly replace analog?

What new norms will emerge in digital writing that would send Mrs. Jobe (my 5th grade teacher) into a panic about the state of the world? Perhaps these questions have already been asked, but during this month, and as a librarian who fancies herself an analog and digital writer, should I not attempt to understand this intersection?

If general writing skills are falling by the wayside in education, how can we immerse students and the public with digital writing skills? Where does writing fall into the vast definition and scope of digital literacy? And where do writing competencies fall into what it takes to be a competent and engaged citizen? And who is teaching it and who is assessing it?

The Digital Writing Month activities I’ve observed have been highly collaborative. To me, it seems paramount that digitally literate persons should be able to harness the collaborative capabilities of technological tools. So how do we–the professors and writers and librarians and social media geeks and computer people and teachers–connect the dots between writing, digital writing, and digital literacy?

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