Avoid a Sucker's Choice: Handwriting OR Tech #iPad #writing

Reading this recently tweeted article, Is It Time to Stop Teaching Handwriting in Schools?, on handwriting and how it's taught less in schools because technology skills are more necessary to our burgeoning future...aww, give us a break!
George Couros, the principal of innovative teaching for Parkland School Division in Edmonton, thinks the days of formally teaching handwriting are coming to an end. He says if video and computer skills are what children now engage in, then that’s what educators need to focus on. 
“Technology and literacy are continuously developing … and I think we need to really focus on what we do in school to help kids connect with the world,” he told CTV’s Canada AM this week.
Many parents might lament their children’s lack of ability to craft a handwritten thank-you card, or to make out the handwriting on an old family recipe, but Couros says communication is simply evolving, not disappearing.
“Sending a handwritten note is a nice thing and a nice element to have in our world. But kids are communicating in other ways: using email and texts, and there are other ways of people being nice to each other,” he says. Read More
The real option isn't between writing handwritten notes to be nice to one another or crafting videos with mobile technologies, as this article frames the discussion and quotes. We simply need to focus on what we really want to help youngsters to be able to achieve:
Enable students to engage in activities that stimulate brain growth and facilitate communication in a variety of blended mediums.
Yes, I could live with that goal. How about you? Maybe you could say it better? For me, the idea of blended mediums is one worth coming back to in a moment.

Furthermore, consider these excerpts from other sources that highlight a piece of research:

  1. ...putting ink to paper stimulates a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating Center, or the RAS. According toLifehacker, "The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you're actively focusing on that moment — something that the physical act of writing brings to the forefront." One study from 2010 found that the brain areas associated with learning "lit up" much more when kids were asked to write words like "spaceship" by hand versus just studying the word closely. Read More
  2. According to The Wall Street Journal, some physicians claim that the act of writing — which engages your motor-skills, memory, and more — is good cognitive exercise for baby boomers who want to keep their minds sharp as they age. And if you're looking to pick up a new skill, a 2008 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience found that adults had an easier time recognizing new characters — like Chinese, math symbols, or music notes — that were written by hand over characters generated by a computer. Read More
  3. Using advanced tools such as magnetic resonance imaging, researchers are finding that writing by hand is more than just a way to communicate. The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development. Read More
  4. scientists are discovering that learning cursive is an important tool forcognitive development, particularly in training the brain to learn “functional specialization,”[2] that is capacity for optimal efficiency. In the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking. Brain imaging studies reveal that multiple areas of brain become co-activated during learning of cursive writing of pseudo-letters, as opposed to typing or just visual practice.Brain imaging studies show that cursive activates areas of the brain that do not participate in keyboarding. Read More via @edtechsandyk

Do I write by hand? Yes, absolutely. But I only write by hand when I'm taking notes in graphic organizer form (e.g. concept maps, semantic webs), making short to-do lists, signing off on stacks of paperwork that are essential to my job as an administrator, and when finding a printer would be inconvenient. All else, I drop into a laptop, or these days, into an iPad.

To that end, I've decided that handwriting SHOULD make a comeback. After all, it's about blending mediums--handwriting/coloring/drawing by hand with technology. Consider Wes Fryer's (SpeedofCreativity.org) use of visual note-taking and narrated art. These are great examples of how to blend two medium--handwriting, note-taking with new technologies. It's that artful blend that holds the most promise for engaging student brains, causing those neurons to fire and reach towards each others.

There's no reason why, given the ubiquity of iPads in some school systems, that students can't draw and color by hand, snap a photo with an iPad, then app-smash that image of their handwriting, drawing into another app like 30HandsLearning (make videos of handwriting), ExplainEverything (blend handwriting with video), or better yet, BookCreator (mix it all in).

Furthermore, there are many apps that one can use to take notes with; here are some of my favorites:

  1. eNotebook - This is a free app that integrates with Evernote and makes it quite easy to organize notes into notebooks.
  2. NoteShelf ($5.99) - Another app that reminds me a lot of eNotebook with similar functionality. 
  3. Penultimate (Free) - An app designed for note-taking that integrates into Evernote.
  4. AudioNote ($4.99) - This is one of my favorite apps for note-taking since you can record audio and take notes with a keyboard OR by hand.

You can find a variety of apps for iPad and/or Android in these links.

Image References
Image at top of blog post. http://cdn.imedicalapps.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Screen-shot-2010-12-16-at-2.29.05-PM-364x352.png

Check out Miguel's Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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