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Schoolchildren have become accus­tomed to digital communication but haven't necessarily learned to switch off the habits formed in casual com­munication when using digital media for academic purposes.

"Today's youth actually are writ­ing much more frequently and for a greater variety of purposes than youth in the past, and that is a good thing," said Royce Kimmons, a McKay School assistant professor of instructional psychology and technology. "But we need to help our students develop the ability to think and write formally in certain contexts."

Technology in school writing is now a reality, and there are both pros and cons to digital composition. For a study recently published in Computers and Composition, Kimmons and coauthors measured some of the dif­ferences between handwritten work versus work typed on a Chromebook. The Chromebook essays had higher rates of capitalization errors and text speak, but they also had fewer spell­ing errors and were written at a higher grade level.

Kimmons urges educators to embrace this technology and tailor their teaching accordingly in order to best help their students. "It is here, our kids are using it, and now we just have to take what they are doing that is good and make it into something better."