Does Spellcheck Make “Learners” More Intelligent?

The title of this post is not something I have ever really thought about until recently.  As I have blogged for almost eight years now, I do not know if I have become a better writer, or naturally more comfortable with writing often.  In the last few months, I paid for “Grammarly.” Before I purchased the program, I would have put the period after the quotation mark in the previous sentence.  Now, because I have been corrected so many times on that specific error, I know that is not right. It still looks wrong to me, but hey, I didn’t make the rules.

All though many of my grammar errors are highlighted real-time (not the best for my ego but it does help), at the end of each post I click on the little “Grammarly” button to see how many mistakes I have made.  It is like this weird game that I am now playing with myself to get that number to almost zero.  Hasn’t happened (it’s up to five by this paragraph, but you wouldn’t know that because I have already fixed them!).

When I first started using Grammarly, I thought,

“Me bad English, that’s unpossible!” Ralph Wiggum

Now I know.

Every time I click on that button, I learn more about my writing (ugh…I put a comma there, and I totally shouldn’t have…grrrrrr!) and writing in general. Before I wouldn’t proofread my work, but now I am forced to. That little number at the bottom of the screen lingers and just looks at me saying, “Fix me!”

So is this the same for a spellchecking program for our students?  Do our students just haphazardly spell things incoherently in hopes that a spellcheck program makes something of value?

In the 2012 Slate article, “You Autocomplete Me,” it states:

Still, autocomplete is no substitute for human spelling skill, for several reasons. For one, you need to get somewhat close to a word’s proper spelling in order for it to be helpful.

Grammarly suggests that the last sentence should be “for it to be helpful,” not “in order for it to be helpful.” It does seem kind of wordy when it is said that way now that I look at it. It is also identifying that I have ANOTHER error in my sentence because I recognized the mistake by the other author.  You can fix my grammar, Grammarly, but you can’t change my mind.

I thought about all of this when I saw this tweet from Alice Keeler:

The feedback that a “Grammarly” or a spellchecker is immediate. If I continuously see that I spell the same word wrong over and over again, do you think that I will just continue to do that and just let spellcheck do that for me, or will I start picking up how to spell the word correctly? The immediate feedback that I am receiving is helping both now and in the future.

I would love your thoughts and any links to articles on this topic, but from my experience, I know this has helped in my own growth as a writer. I appreciate you baring bearing with me as I continue to learn.

Source: George Couros

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