The Pen and the Byte Offer Different Benefits in Teaching, Training, and Scholarship

As teachers of English, we are used to creating learning environments that emphasize reading and writing. These days the learning environment can be physical or digital.

The pen and paper method is a positive one because we have ample experience with it, we have strong pedagogical models for it, and there are plenty of practitioners to offer guidance in it.

The digital environment, on the other hand, is more recent, we have less experience with it, and, while pedagogical models are coming into existence, the models are presently being formed by practice and not informing it. The pen remains mightier than the byte, yet scholarship, training, and teaching are migrating to the web at a rapid pace. What does the internet offer that traditional methodology does not?

The strength of tradition in English is strong and so reliance on pen and paper remains, but the shift toward an internet presence is increasing, because of real-world rewards.

There are non-classroom audiences on the net, when we or our students are posting and blogging.

The physical, time, and geographic constraints for in-place training or teaching are minimized through the adaptation of courses to the internet.

In addition, the immediate access to scholarship offered by its placement on the web has led many, including Harvard University, to move towards a net model.

Does this mean that the byte is mightier than the pen? No, it does not. But it does offer teachers additional tools for creating learning environments and facilitating learning, as well as a chance to remember what it is like to be a novice rather than an expert. A thoughtful use of both would best benefit schools, students, and teachers.

This is my proposal for CCTE’s State of the Profession.

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