When students are asked to write their assignments using a computer they are doing much more than merely typing a text. They can have spelling aid, synonyms aid. We can edit their texts by using the commentary key, by changing the colour of the letters so as to stress out what we want them to notice and reflect upon.
We can easily show them the reasons for using italics, bold and underlining. Quite often the students need to be guided in summary writing which requires specific reading tools, as well. By using the possibilities mentioned above (italics, underlining, bold and a different colour for meaning) they are simultaneously acquiring strategies, which enable them to practise reading for learning.
By guiding learners in the editing of their writing we are making it possible for them to reflect on what writing is about and on how they should do it. It develops autonomy.
I inserted a commentary so as to illustrate its possibilities which do challenge our creativity.
As one authentic activity with word processing we could do what we usually do by hand, send the assignments back to the learners with the repeated errors signalled (colour, aesterisk, here I am following Veronica’s ideas, because I hardly ever mark tests or assignments by computer) according to a code previously arranged with them. Then, we could ask them to edit their work for publishing in a class blog. Here, I should mention my students are intermediate and upper intermediate.
I found Renata’s article quite useful in providing practical tips that we can easily adopt. I know I will try out her suggestions of categorizing words by means of chart creation and the other tip to organize a text by supplying its parts in a jumbled way, which learners will have to drag, cut and paste.