Journaling offline or online for extensive writing – Which do students prefer?
Extensive writing is doing a large amount of regular free writing on a range of topics and styles, focusing less on accuracy and more on fluency. Today there are many online options for students to practice their writing that have the additional benefit of developing basic computer and typing skills. In a first-year Japanese university EFL writing course, students wrote short journal entries up to five times a week for the duration of one semester as a form of extensive writing. The goal was to increase fluency and writing speed, and get students into the habit of writing regularly on a range of simple topics in preparation for much more challenging future writing assignments in their program. In the first half of the term, students wrote on paper, submitting their collections several times for evaluation. During the latter part of the semester, students switched to an online option. The hope was that this would help improve their computer and typing skills, much needed for survival in their program. Penzu (outlined in the presentation), a free online platform designed specifically for journaling, was chosen as the tool. All journal entries were evaluated almost entirely on quantity and frequency and were not corrected. At the end of the semester students were surveyed on their opinions regarding their experiences journaling both offline and online. Overall more than 50% of students surveyed preferred the online option and even more thought it was useful for developing their typing and basic computer skills.
Presented at the JALTCALL 2016 Conference at Tamagawa University, Tokyo.