13 November 2019

Are You Writing Writefully?

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I still have the habit of carrying a notebook with me. In my bags, there will pens, worn out pencils, perhaps the odd rubber  (i.e. eraser), or even a pencil sharpener. In F2F classrooms the array of pencil cases, set out as name tags on students' desks always perks my curiosity - why did they choose that particular pencil case? How does it make them feel as learners? Are they demarcating their classroom space or reinforcing their individuality as a member of that particular learning group? 

Perhaps both. Or, even, perhaps neither. 

Which leaves me in silent guesses and assumptions of whether pencil cases matter at all. 

Even though there may be pencil cases in my classrooms, even though I myself still often jot down notes and reminders by hand, the truth is, that most writing is done digitally. Students at Higher Education are expected to submit word-processed work and very often they are more comfortable in using Word than actually writing by hand. 

From the 16 different skills which  Future Skills Report 2019, highlighted earlier this year, learner autonomy clearly takes a leading role:

 "A skill profile is an
array containing further subskills.

A. Subject-development related skills: 

(1)Autonomy (self-determination), 
(2) Self-initiative(initiative and performance competence), 
(3) Selfmanagement (decision competence) 
(4) Need/motivation for achievement (initiative and
performance competence), 
(5) Personal agility(self-competence), 
(6) Autonomous learning competence (learning literacy), 
(7) Self-efficacy,
(8) Tolerance for ambiguity (ambiguity,competence), 
9) Ability to reflect (reflective competence)

B. Object-related skills (Instrumental skills): 

(10) Agility (systems competence), 
(11) Creativity(innovation competence), 
(12) Digital literacy

C. Social world/ organization-related skills: 

(14) Future mindset (future and design competence), 
(15) Cooperation competence, 
(16) Communication competence"

So the question is, how can students become more autonomous when writing? Especially at more advanced levels of education?

Writefull is a recent app I came across and think it could be quite helpful for fostering learner autonomy in writing. You can see the different features it includes here below:

Writefull also offers a page with tutorials where you can find exactly what and how Writefull may help you when writing. 

Writing is never easy, especially with students whose first language is not necessarily English. Being an independent, autonomous learner is not easy either; both require a process of learning, of making mistakes (perhaps), dusting off the mistake/s and continuing to progress positively.

To help learners achieve the skills mentioned above, educators also need to share different ways in which students can indeed become more autonomous and self-efficient. Introducing them to digital tools such as Writefull makes sense  - their world is digital, complex and constantly evolving. Even if using such a tool does not abdicate the teacher from providing feedback on students' writing when required, it is a possible approach to fostering learner autonomy when writing. Besides, isn't one of the objectives of teaching to guide students to becoming more confident and self-sufficient in their learning tasks?

Do you use Writefull with your students?

Further Suggestions:

Ehlers, Ulf. -D., Kellermann, Sarah A. (2019): Future Skills. The future of Learning and Higher
education. Results of the International Future Skills Delphi Survey. Karlsruhe

Future Skills 2019 - Key Findings

Future Skills  Report 2019 - Future Skills 

Future Skills - The Future of Learning and College

November is for Writing

Writing with Linquix

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Generating Stories with A.I.

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