But we still expect standards. We still expect them to be able to write well and to write fluently, to spell effectively and to create interesting pieces of written work. So what does the role of the computer and all its peculiarities have to offer?
The spell check program and the grammar checker are a great help and they don't take away the skill of either; to be able to choose the correct word they have to have a recognition of the word shape and letter organisation, and as for the grammar checker, unless you know grammar well it can cause more problems than is realised. To be told the sentence is passive means nothing unless you have grasped the concept of passivity in the first place.
Being able to edit the work on screen is always a great bonus because the changes are made easier by cut and paste and children can make the change instantly rather than making a mess of their page of writing with all the crossings out and re-wording over the top. Little wonder few like to edit work on paper, by the tine they have finished it can look like the proverbial 'dog's dinner'.
As you can probably tell I am all for the idea of creating literacy using computers and for reasons more than I have listed here. The very action of striking the keys in a specific order teaches you how to spell a word without realising and often I have seen children striking imagined keys so as to transfer the spelling onto paper using a pen. Mild dyslexia is supported by various specialised programs which learns the child's own peculiarities in repeated spelling errors and flags it up for them. They have the choice then of changing it or not.
This piece of work was created by a girl in Year 5 using a computer. She has edited and considered not only what she is writing but the vocabulary and the flow. She was able to 'beautify' the work in her style and the pride with which she gave me a copy revealed how much time and consideration she had paid to completing it. The language is hers.