Does the Internet Help or Hurt Homework?
July 8, 2011

According to a Pew Internet and American Life survey, most teenagers say the Internet’s ability to help with schoolwork is one of its best features.  78% of online teens say the Internet helps them to do schoolwork, and 47% say it helps a lot.  Parents agree; 87% say the Internet helps children with their schoolwork.  This is one of the main reasons many families sign up for Internet access.

For instantaneous help, many students turn to instant messaging systems and email to contact peers and teachers. Some teachers even offer office hours using an online screen name for those too lazy to walk to their office. And that is exactly the premise behind the Internet- quick and efficient communication.  Most schools are turning to the Internet as a way to disseminate information about the school, specific classes, and activities. No longer is class sign-up done with pencil and paper but rather all colleges have an online database to perform the function.

The ease of gathering information on the Internet also has a downside.  The ease of researching and using the Internet for homework makes it easy to cheat.  While the Internet makes research and learning easier than ever, some students abuse the power. Copying and pasting is one of the most common ways students cheat followed by looking up answers to math problems and reading online book summaries instead of reading the novel.

Some websites are designed for the sole purpose of facilitating cheating and plagiarizing.  These sites allow students to buy and sell essays.  There are other websites designed to assist students in producing original work; however, even these sites can be abused.

So does the Internet help or hurt homework? Considering teenagers are lazy, the Internet very likely hurts homework habits. Even if one tab is opened to a research project, the other is probably open to Facebook. It is not hard to figure out which tab is getting more focus.

Students’ Writing Assignments “Dumber”?
June 20, 2011

Social media makes our messages condensed. Twitter allows up to 140 characters; Facebook allows up to 420 characters.  Many would think this would create clearer messages.  Wrong.  Welcome to the world of grammatical, usage, and spelling errors.  Slang terms such as BTW (by the way) have suddenly become incorporated into student assignments- a major concern for teachers.

According to a recent Pew Internet & American Life survey, 85% of respondents use some form of electronic communication.  While much of the younger generation has become accustomed to the social media slang, the teachers cannot understand what the students are writing.  Teachers understand that text messaging is a large part of young people’s lives; however, this should not excuse the formal writing students are assigned. Many teachers believe there has been a decline in students’ writing abilities due to new media.

Even though teens are heavily embedded in the digital age, most do not believe that communication over the Internet or text messaging is writing.  Teens generally do not believe that social media negatively affects their writing.  However, many do acknowledge that some of the slang does occasionally slip into their assignments for school.  In particular, teen bloggers and social network users have a tendency to use shortcuts and emoticons in their school writing assignments.

Parents have a different view about the effect of social media on students’ writing.  They believe that computers have a positive influence on writing and even make some students better writers.  Reasons a computer makes a positive influence include revising and editing easily, presenting ideas clearly, and the opportunity for creativity. Other parents do not believe that social media has any effect on writing.

Some feel that this is simply an evolution of language while others feel that the social media “is dumbing down” the English language.  The future is unclear as more generations of students grow up in the age of social media.

Have you ever used a shortcut like LOL (laughing out loud) or an emoticon in a school assignment?