Putting the Pieces Together: Sample Writing Prompt A

The following article, Learn to Use That Laptop: The Case for Mandatory Computers by Enrico Turing appears in the January 2015 issue of College Technology magazine.

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     Contrary to popular belief, not all young people are great with technology. Although almost everyone makes this claim, where is the actual evidence? Some young people are tech-savvy[1], yes; however, in my experience, many are not. Those who automatically assume that young people are natural tech-experts are guilty of ageism, which The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines as “prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of age.” Think about it, though: the people who invented all of this technology are now in their 40s and 50s—or older. Bill Gates, who founded Microsoft, is 57. Steve Wozniak, who helped found Apple, is 62.

     The most tech-savvy person I know personally, indeed, is a 60-year-old woman. If you compare older people with younger people, the biggest difference is this: young people think they know what they are doing. Because computer skills are crucial for both college and the workplace, all incoming college students— regardless of age—should be required to buy a laptop and pass a computer course in their first semester of college. This computer course would start off simply, but it would quickly become much more advanced.

     Although young people generally know how to download music and movies, rapidly thumb-text on their cell phones, and rip music to iPods, many young people aren’t actually very good with technology—and they don’t even know it. They don’t really know how to use library databases (which are much better than Google) for research, for example, and their word-processing skills are often hopelessly inadequate for college work. In fact, my years of teaching experience suggest that some student writing problems result from a lack of knowledge about Microsoft Word. Sure, students know how to do very basic things, but Word is a powerful package, and most students don’t have a clue about a lot of features that can make their lives much easier.

     To be “tech-savvy” is to be very knowledgeable about technology. The course could also address more general issues about technology—issues like online etiquette (or ‘netiquette’), copyright, viruses, privacy, and security, all of which come up whenever anyone uses a computer. For example, students need to know that they shouldn’t use the nickname-based Hotmail addresses they got in Grade 11 when they write resumes and cover letters because employers view such email addresses as unprofessional. Students need to know that the funny Facebook pictures of them lying on the grass surrounded by beer bottles might not be so funny in 2011 when a potential employer sees those pictures during a background check.

     For all of these reasons, we should require that students buy new laptops when they register—the cost would be part of their tuition. We should also require that they take a course on how to use their computers efficiently and sensibly so that they learn more than just how to download songs and message their friends. Instead of worrying about students misusing their laptops and the software they come with, let’s teach them to use these tools properly.


Write a multi-paragraph response (in essay format: introduction, body, conclusion) to the article below.

Your response should accurately summarize the author’s main argument AND critically respond to it.

You may choose to agree with the author’s argument, to disagree with it, or to partially agree/disagree with it.

Your essay should also consider at least one objection a reader might have to your argument. You may respond to this objection in different ways. For example, you may argue against the objection, or you may acknowledge that the objection is a good point and incorporate it into your argument. It’s your choice.

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  1. To be “tech-savvy” is to be very knowledgeable about technology.


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Putting the Pieces Together Copyright © 2020 by Andrew Stracuzzi and André Cormier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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