Examining Students' Attitudes and Use of Technology Tools to Write
El Kahla, Mouna
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The normalization of technology in many aspects of our lives suggests a need to examine the impact of using technology on language learning and use. There is an underlying assumption that children born in this technological age are "digital natives," (Prensky, 2001) who are naturally proficient at using technology and need no further training. Even though recent studies have shown the benefits of technology in facilitating learning, Prensky's assumption, that this generation are "born naturals" at using technology, should not be left unexamined. Although there is a growing literature that covers the students' experiences and attitudes toward technology tools used in writing or online publishing, many aspects of the learning experience are still unknown such as what technologies learners prefer and why. In addition, there are few studies that compare the attitudes of graduate and undergraduate students towards these writing tools. This study examined the differences between graduate and undergraduate students in their attitudes towards using technology to enhance their writing skills. 10 MATESOL students and 36 undergraduate students currently enrolled at the American University of Sharjah participated in this study. This study addressed areas related to technology use, perceived advantages and disadvantages from students of both levels towards technology tools used to write, and the discrepancies between the two levels in their attitudes. Furthermore, the findings of the study suggest that among the participants there is a high usage rate of technology tools to write. Students from both levels exhibited good implementation of technology tools to write, research, and augment their lexicon. However, there are some results that show students, from both levels, experience frustration related to the limitations of technology or lack of training.