Word Processors


What are Word Processors?

Word Processors are computer applications which are used for creating, clippit.gifediting, formating, and printing written (or typed) documents of almost any kind. Word Processors have become the most widely-used and accepted method for creating documents of an academic, professional, or in many cases, personal nature. Word Processors are used by students to create and edit essays, reports, research papers, and other academic documents. Word Processors are used by businesses and professionals to generate reports, memorandums, letters, and many other professionally appropriate and useful documents. Finally, Word Processors are used by many individuals to create letters, notices, and other documents of a personal nature. The most popular Word Processing application is Microsoft Word, though many other applications exist and are widely-used, including WordPerfect, Microsoft Works, Google Docs, AbiWord, Bean-Mac, GNU TeXmacs, Groff, KWord, LyX, IntelliTalk, and many more. Word Processors feature different capabilities, depending upon the particular application, that allow users to design documents in many different ways to suite their purposes and tastes.

Learning Theories that Guide the Use of Word Processors

Word Processing most closely follows the learning process described by the Constructivist theory of learning. Students first learn to write letters, words, sentences, paragraphs and finally, compositions by hand. Word Processing simply allows students to take the knowledge they have gained and translate it onto a new format. By building upon their previous knowledge and experience with language manipulation and composition, they learn to use the sophisticated, technological features of Word Processing applications.

Word Processing may also relate to Cognitivist theories of learning in that the student begins by responding to the new medium for composition, processes and encodes information and methods germain to the new medium, and finally, after enough use and practice, commits those skills to their permanent knowledge bank.

The Benefits of Using Word Processors

The benefits of using Word Processors are manifold. Word Processing allows for documents to be created, edited, and printed in very little time, relative to hand-written methods. They also allow for greater standardization of documents, making the problem of illegible hand-writing, sloppy formatting, ink blots, and eraser marks a thing of the past. Word Processing has also been effective in encouraging some children to write, given that they enjoy the process of typing more than the process of writing by hand. Word Processors allow for aesthetic creativity in document creation, or, when desirable, uniformity. Different font styles, icons, and templates allow users to custom-design documents, enabling them to create very straightforward or very elaborate, intricate documents depending on their goals and desires. Word Processors are also popular due to the legibility and professional appearance of the documents they are able to produce. In today's world, nearly all formal business documents are produced through the use of Word Processors. Similarly, most colleges and universities, and even many secondary schools, require student assignments to be done, at least in their final form, through the use of Word Processors.

Another appealing feature brought about by the advent of the Word Processor is the ability to create documents and send them to others electronically, usually as E-mail "attachments." Anything that is saved on a Word Processing application can be sent electronically to another individual, allowing for the significantly more rapid exchange of information, ideas, etc. Word Processors can also assist in generating mailing lists, envelopes and labels, making graphs, charts, and tables, and many other useful customized documents.

The Challenges of Using Word Processors

Though many believe that the use of Word Processors has facilitated the process of creating and editing documents of every kind, others feel that use of Word Processors, and perhaps more particularly, reliance on them, has contributed to decreased proficiency language and composition skills. Many educators, especially at the secondary level and higher, lament the use of Word Processing applications as document "editors." While most applications are capable of checking documents for both spelling and grammatical errors, few if any are able to decipher when a word is used improperly in a sentence dog.jpgif a word is used in an improper way (such as "their" instead of "there"), or if a typed word is not the word intended by the writer to be used (such as "form" instead of "from").

Many educators also feel that student reliance on Word Processors has caused them to be lazy about the writing process. Many think that Word Processing, as opposed to writing at least initially by hand, discourages careful writing and editing. Many teachers must remind students that "spellchecking" a document is not the same as "proofreading" one. Students also suffer when Word Processing is used in lieu of teaching proper grammar and language skills. While perhaps during the early years of a student's education, Word Processors are sufficient for helping students become comfortable with the writing process, at some point, students must master the use of language in more advanced and sophisticated ways and without reliance upon technology to gloss over their errors.

When Word Processors are used to enhance the writing process rather than in an attempt to make poorly-written documents appear superior, they are very helpful tools. Those who use Word Processors should also be vigilant to save and resave their documents as they work on them. As with any technological tool, "glitches" can occur and result in the loss of anything in progress that is unsaved. If you do not first create a hand-written draft, it is essential to save and resave your document as you use a Word Processing application.


Special Guidance for Using Word Processors

Teachers should emphasize the difference between learning to "write" and learning to use "Word Processors." While the use of the latter facilitates the former, it is not a replacement for it. Learning how to hand-write properly, spell, use grammar and punctuation correctly, and compose documents in a coherent and articulate manner is important and cannot be taught by simply using a Word Processor. Teachers should encourage students to create composition assignments that combine Word Processing and writing and editing by hand. For example, a teacher could ask students to describe an exciting trip the would like to go on someday. First, the students would brainstorm ideas on paper by hand. Next, they would type their responses on the computer, then print their rough drafts. They would then have to edit their papers by hand, showing any changes they made. Finally, they could use their handwritten edits to edit their documents on the computer and complete their final draft of the assignment. By using both processes, students would learn fundamentals of language and composition while gaining valuable computer skills.


Research on Word Processors

http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0034-6543(199321)63%3A1%3C69%3ATWPAAI%3E2.0.CO%3B2-C



Word Processor Lesson Ideas


Teachers could ask students to describe an exciting trip or adventure they would like to go on someday. First, students would brainstorm ideas on paper by hand. Next, they would type their responses in full sentences and complete paragraphs on the computer, then print their rough drafts. yarg.jpgThey would then have to edit their papers by hand, showing any changes they made. Finally, they could use their handwritten edits to edit their documents on the computer and complete and print their final draft of the assignment. By using both processes, students would learn fundamentals of language and composition while gaining valuable computer skills.

Word Processor Links

http://www.lyx.org/

http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a746753426~db=all