Writing in schools with computers: what does it take to make it happen?

Document Type

Journal Article


School of Education




Harris, Barbara. Writing in Schools with Computers: What Does It Take to Make It Happen? [online]. English in Australia, Vol. 46, No. 1, 2011: 40-51. Available here


This article is based on a study of how a sample of secondary students in West Australian schools used computers for school-based writing tasks. The students used computers extensively when writing at home but not in English classrooms where, despite computers being available, their use was minimal. The English teachers did not capitalise on the potential of computer technology to develop writing skills and understandings; nor did they support students’ writing with computers (e.g. teaching relevant computer functions). They gave reasons for not using computers in writing lessons (organisational issues, time constraints, their restricted knowledge of computer technology) but, significantly, it was their ‘traditional’ views about written texts and ‘authentic’ writing that informed their decisions to limit students’ access to computers in writing lessons. Consideration is given to what it will take for English teachers to better address the literacy changes and opportunities offered by the use of computer technology.

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