Technology has changed the way students write in some forums, and it is necessary for students to know the difference. There are different genres and formats for writing professionally, so why shouldn’t they be able to distinguish when their informal writing is not appropriate?

In an online discussion forum, high school English teacher Valerie Mattessich wrote the following post:

I am starting reading-response blogs with my students and am torn between allowing them to use text-speak on their blogs, which will maximize authenticity, and requiring proper capitalization and punctuation, which will make me feel better as an English teacher but may ruin the whole point of blogging for them. Thoughts anyone?

The question posed above is simple to answer if you consider the purpose of the blog. Is the blog to encourage reflective or maybe prewriting activities for more formal writing? If so, then students should be able to write how they feel comfortable because the primary goal is to get their ideas flowing. Hampering them with formal constraints in a personal environment (blog) they create to reflect themselves, seems conflicting. If the purpose of the blog is to encourage them to write publicly and establish themselves as an authority on different subjects, then more formal writing should be required.

This seems to be a “hot” topic in our profession yet I have not personally experienced the issue in assignments.  Have I ever? Yes, but rarely, and it is not the common occurrence that teachers, administrators and parents seem so worried about. At least it is not evident on the surface. Instead, I am more concerned that while the sentence styles are formal and properly punctuated, the content of the essays are becoming more brief and disjointed, likely a reflection of social media and web influence.

Instead of students having difficulty “code-switching” they seem to have more difficulty writing a lengthy, linear essay with a developing argument or supporting points.