Technology Tools for 21st Century Teaching – The Basic Suite

When should students start word processing?

Students can learn to word processing software as young as 4 years old. There are some softwares that are designed for young children. It will benefit their writing skills especially when they start using these softwares at a young age. However, some people might worry that younger generations will not develop the abilities to write with pen and activities that require fine-motor skills.

Is it necessary to teach keyboarding skills?

It is a really hard question to answer. People who have been trained to do the 10 finger typing way, in my experience, are more likely to type faster than those who haven’t been trained. The 10 finger typing at the beginning of learning this skill can be quite time consuming.  Training your fingers to go where they’re meant to and press the right button with the right finger. Other would agree that students will pick up typing skills on their own as they spend more time on the keyboards. I have never been trained to use 10 fingers to type and I type at a reasonable speed due to time spent on the keyboard, but I still have to look at the keyboard letters more frequently than those who have been taught, which slows down the speed as well.

What effect does word processing have on handwriting?

No formal studies have been conducted but frequent computer users have commented on their handwriting and how they are not as they use to be, especially when there are little opportunities to practice handwriting skills. If handwriting are taught with word processing, sthudent’s writing skills might improve and they learn to write with pen and paper for times when computers crash or other technical issue. This can only be done when individuals decide to practice the so called “old fashion” way.

  • What impact does word processing have on assessment?

Word processing encourages greater quantity of writing (Hawisher, 1989; Snyder, 1993; Bangert-Drowns, 1993; Goldberg, Russell and Cook, 2003). Although word processing doesn’t mean that it’ll lead to better writing, it has an impact on writing practice (Dave and Russell, 2010). It has been found that students who do their assessments on word processers tend to receive lower grades (Roblyer, 1997). Therefore, strict guidelines have to be establish to ensure there are no discrimination against students who choose to do their assessments on the word processer. Using word processing softwares during assessments also means that there is a higher rate of plagiarism as students prefer to finish early and do things quickly.

  • Is the auto correction of spelling a problem?

Word processing teaches the writer the correct spelling if it is wrong. It will not be a problem if it is used correctly. Findings by Hawisher and Snyder found that less mechanical errors are made. On the other hand, most word processing softwares auto correct what it perceive as a misspelled word especially with the different English language from UK and US, differences like centre and center, fibre and fiber, litre and liter repectively.


Hawisher, G. E., & Fortune, R. (1989). Word Processing and the Basic Writer. Collegiate Microcomputer, 7(3), 275.

Snyder, I. (1993). The impact of computers on students’ writing: A comparative study of the effects of pens and word processors on writing context, process and product. Australian Journal of Education, 37(1), 5-25.

Bangert-Drowns, R. L. (1993). The word processor as an instructional tool: A meta-analysis of word processing in writing instruction. Review of Educational research, 63(1), 69-93.

Goldberg, A., Russell, M., & Cook, A. (2003). The effect of computers on student writing: A meta-analysis of studies from 1992 to 2002. The Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment, 2(1).

Dave, A. M., & Russell, D. R. (2010). Drafting and revision using word processing by undergraduate student writers: Changing conceptions and practices. Research in the Teaching of English, 406-434.

Roblyer, M. D. (1997). Technology and the Oops! Effect: Finding a Bias against Word Processing. Learning & Leading with Technology, 24(7), 14-16.


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