Seminar in Composition A blog for Annette Vee's section of Pitt's SC


The world of differences: pen and paper vs. computers

Every time before I write a paper I use a pen and paper to organize my thoughts. When I was younger I was taught that this way everything would be right in front of me, ready to be organized. The way of organizing this was by using a computer to type it in an orderly way. Today, I still find myself writing all of my rough drafts using the old fashioned way -- pen and paper. I never like to use the computer to first organize my thoughts partly because it's not what I am used to but also because I find that the computer can present many different problems.

Although there are so many different ways to organize your thoughts now on the computer, I still prefer the other way. I find these applications fairly confusing to use at times. It also makes me incredibly nervous to have  all on my work on the computer not having anything right in front of me god forbid my computer were to crash or not save my work properly. Also, many of us talk about the mental block that comes with the blank white screen of the computer. I have found that I never see myself have a mental blockage when starting with a pen and paper-- what does this say about this habit?

Even since high school, I have seen that assignments and tests have become more reliable on technology and computer systems. Many assignments are done at home, typed up. Many tests are run through the computer system to check the answers. I have had very few tests that require me to use a pen and paper to do my work. Is this a good sign that our education evaluation relies within the accuracy of the computer systems?

Does this need to have a pen and paper available for assignment work and old fashioned habit? Is there hope in the future that generations will not have fears of using the computer to do all of their work? Is there any way that people will overcome the mental block that comes when staring blank at a screen ready to start? How do we see the future of assignments occuring-- will we even have to ever hand in anything or take a test in pen or paper anymore?

Posted by jul5

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  1. I think that people use mediums that are comfortable to them. Therefore, as generations get more sufficient in using a computer, I am sure that they will use computers to start writing. New technology is coming out with auto-save, so that even if you accidentally close out or get interrupted while writing, you still have some of the original material you used. I think pen and paper is a personal preference, though I prefer it too. It is all about what you are comfortable with.

    And pertaining to the tests, in my experience, there was a hard copy of a test that you were either allowed to write on, or write on a piece of paper to understand what you were doing. Just because people are more reliant on computers doesn’t mean they would expect you to do a difficult math problem in your head! But even this is technology that we have grown dependent on. At my elementary school, we used holey cards to practice – a tool that does not seem as widely used. Still, today many children are not learning their times tables correctly because they expect to be able to use a calculator. I think that people do and will rely heavily on technology for schooling in the future. This should not be a problem unless people are exposed to different programs or do not know how to do anything on paper. Computers can facilitate learning, but depending on them too much may hinder it.

  2. Having also been taught to write things out first, I find myself doing the same things that jul5 describes. I can never just sit at a computer and write or even edit my work. I find that the computer screen makes it unreal and therefore I print out things before I read them so that I can make changes easier or just write my thoughts in the margin. While many people may say that pen and paper is old fashioned I think that it is necessary because you can more freely write down your thoughts and make connections where a computer is more uniform, you cant write all over the page, you can only write in lines. I think that future generations will do perfectly fine if just given a computer because they have grown up with just the computer as opposed to us who started out writing papers and then were given computers. I feel that because younger generations are handed a keyboard instead of pen and paper they will be more likely to have a writer’s block when given the pen and paper as opposed to having to write on a computer. As far as future assignments and test go, I think that we will push more towards computer test and writing papers solely on the computer to turn in either via email or print out and hand in. Where tests are concerned I have seen that more and more teachers are gravitating towards the scantron test, where the only writing involved is putting down our name and the date.

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