[conclusion of Gardner and McGinnis article at top of this page]
This year the Department of English of Vincennes University has attempted to incorporate word processing into a wide variety of classes in writing.
After a pilot program in fall semester, we have made word processing available to additional classes: Fundamentals of Writing, English Composition I, English Composition II, Technical Writing, and Business English.
This extension of our word-processing capabilities was made possible by the creation of a computer lab with 20 IBM PCs and four IBM Graphics Printers. The lab is located in the university library and is open to students throughout the day and evening unless classes are scheduled in the lab. In addition, the English Lab, located in Humanities Building where most English classes meet, purchased 2 IBM PCs and 2 IBM Graphics Printers. The English Lab also contains 3 Apple IIs and 5 Honeywell Terminals
that are linked to the university mainframe computer.
After experimenting with different word processing systems, we decided to use the BANK STREET WRITER because of its ease of operation. The system can be learned very quickly (1-2 hours), and not much class time has to be sacrificed to teaching the mechanics of word processing. Commands are printed in English, and even students with no prior experience with computers can learn to operate the system quickly. The system does have drawbacks such as the awkward shifting that is required to transfer from the writing and editing mode and the fact that what one sees on the screen isn't necessarily what one will see on paper. However, its advantages outweigh its disadvantages.
In order to help students learn to use the BANK STREET WRITER and to teach some basics in grammar and composition, I designed the following exercises. In order to work the exercises, students must first load the BANK STREET WRITER on the computer and then load the exercise disk. Instructors review the work by either watching the student's terminal or requesting a printed copy of the student's work:
COMBIN- Sentence Combining Exercise. The program gives several short sentences and asks the student to combine the two sentences on the screen by adding or deleting material and using appropriate punctuation.
EDITEXTER- Deleting Exercise. Teaches the student to use the "Erase" mode to delete unnecessary words, phrases, and entire sentences. The student is given a sample student paper and told to edit it.
Editing- Editing Exercise. The student is given a paragraph from Newsweek with the order of sentences changed. Students are asked to place the sentences in proper order.
DIVIDING- Paragraph Exercise. Provides one long piece of writing that is not divided into paragraphs. Asks student to decide where each paragraph should begin and end.
FINDREP- Word Search Exercise. Provides exorcise in the use of the "Replace" Code. Students must locate errors in the use of "their" and "there" and replace with correct word.
LETTER- Business Letter Exercise. The exercise is designed to acquaint students with the form of a business letter.
REVISE-Revising Exercise. This exercise is designed to teach revising on the word processor. A "terrible" essay is provided for the student to revise.
PRINTEXT- Printing Exercise. This exercise gives the student a sample paper to use when learning to make printed copies of his or her paper. The student must first proofread the paper and then prepare it for printing using the "Print" mode.