The ghost in the machine: Computers as a source of confusion.

While computers have transformed the writing process, making drafting easy, revision fast, and correction simple with spelling and grammar checkers, these amenities have spawned new errors in our students’ work. By relying on the spell-check, they miss errors and exchange misspelled words for other words entirely, resulting in bizarre wording they would not have generated on their own. By deferring to the grammar check, they develop uneasiness about, rather than control of, structural options. By narrowing their vision to a single screen, they lose sight of the organisation of their text. And by narrowing their literature search to what key words will net for them, they may never be aware of the discourse community in which their topic moves from mouth to mouth. This paper looks at the confusion that arises when students think that their computers think, that they know what the student means to say and know better than s/he does how to say it; and when they become accustomed to the spaces and the paths that suit the technology, but not, perhaps, the purposes it exists to serve.

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Kate Chanock
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Place of publication; Publisher: 
Melbourne; Language and Academic Skills Units of La Trobe University
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Proc. Language and Academic Skills Conference: Sources of confusion (pp. 70-79)
Kate Chanock
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