Boston College Writing Fellow Technology Project
Below are the two areas that we discussed documenting and researching. The first is the general workflow of the system and the second is research on technologies and tools that other schools are using. (I did not do any research on document editing and revision software because Jeanne said someone was looking at that aspect or the project.)
Instructor posts assignment including evaluation criteria.
Student posts Draft 1 (or perhaps just an outline or thesis.)
Writing Fellow comments using criteria from instructor.
Peer Reviewer comments using criteria from instructor.
Student accesses Draft 1 and the compiled comments from the reviewers.
Student revises document and posts Draft 2
Attached to Draft 2 is a compilation of comments from previous reviewers. If required by the instructor, the student can also comment on the feedback he/she received and summarize the changes he/she made to the document.
Instructor accesses Draft 2 and complied comments along with student’s feedback.
Instructor comments on and grades Draft 2.
Student may have the option to revise and resubmit Draft 3 to instructor; Writing Fellows may or may not be asked to provide feedback.
Notes about this workflow:
Items in red are the most basic options that the system should have for the review process.
Items in black are the optional steps that should be available if an instructor wants to provide more options and structure for the process.
I have not run these steps by the Writing Fellows or other instructors. That will be a key next step before we move forward.
There needs to be some kind of privacy control so the instructor can determine who sees what. (E.g. perhaps the instructor wants students to be able to see other students' drafts, but make the peer reviewer and writing fellow comments private.)
Overview of Technologies and Tools:
I did not find any Writing Fellow programs that have developed sophisticated systems to manage drafts, feedback, and grading. The university Writing Centers have implemented more in the way of these technologies:
I found two commercially available tools that are used by some writing centers and may meet some of our needs:
1. Daedalus Integrated Writing Environment:
This tool seems more about the prewriting, writing, and citation processes, and I’m not sure it does enough of what we need to merit further review.
2. Waypoint Outcomes Grading & Assessment Software
This tool is more focused on instructor grading and feedback, but it does do some of what we need, and it integrates with Blackboard Vista. It seems worth looking at as part of our system.
I found one custom developed system that seems to cover many of the things we are trying to do.
Colorado Statue University’s Writing Studio
I emailed the developer (Professor Mike Palmquist) of the system and he confirmed that it was custom developed and not commercially available. He was on his way to vacation and promised more details in July.
The journal, Across the Disciplines will devote the Fall 2008 issue to “Writing Technologies and Writing Across the Curriculum: Current Lessons and Future Trends.”
Publication: Fall 2008
Call for Proposals
Writing Technologies and Writing Across the Curriculum: Current Lessons and Future Trends
(I realize this doesn’t help us now, but it should be useful to see other school’s experiences as we move into development and testing.)
Background and more details on my research:
I started with a review of the Writing Fellow programs such as Brown, Tufts, Drexel, etc. (This link gives a good list of Writing Fellow programs: .) However, I could not find any programs that noted a technological component beyond a basic online form to submit a paper. I quickly realized that Writing Centers are a better source of information so I started looking at different writing center sites. (This link gives a good compilation of writing centers: .)
It was a bit difficult to discern what kind of tools and technologies (commercial or custom developed) other schools have put in place for this kind of document review and feedback. If the school had an online system, it was even more difficult to figure out the specific functionality because it required a school/student id to login to the system. I emailed several of the writing centers to ask for more detailed information, but I got many “Out of Office” replies and a few, “We can’t release that information without permission.”
Daedalus Integrated Writing Environment (DIWE):
I did find several schools that had implemented a system called the Daedalus Integrated Writing Environment. The system was developed by the University of Texas Austin and then commercialized. It seems to have been around for at least 15 years and is/was used at San Francisco State University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Vanderbilt. Most of the information on the system was 5-10 years old. Below are more details and links about Daedalus Integrated Writing Environment.
DIWE provides tools to support all phases of the writing process. The following example describes the progress of an essay from initial assignment to final draft, incorporating many of DIWE’s features. For this assignment, students are asked to write a persuasive essay on an environmental controversy.
How the University of Illinois at Chicago uses the Daedalus system:
Waypoint Outcomes Grading & Assessment Software
The second tool that I came across was Waypoint Outcomes Grading & Assessment Software from a company called Subjective Metrics. It was initially developed at Drexel University and then commercialized. It is used by about 25 colleges and universities and seems to have a more viable commercial future than Daedalus. It can be integrated with Blackboard Vista and other on-line course systems.
Link to student article at University of Pennsylvania student newspaper about how Waypoint Outcomes has improved the feedback he receives from professors.
Colorado State University’s Writing Studio
CSU has developed a fairly complex system where students inside and outside the university can submit papers and receive feedback. It also seems to have some classroom/group features. It might be worth looking at a bit more, but it has functionally that we don’t need, and it is not commercially available.
Writing Center Link:
From a blog posting by Mike Palmquist, the developer of the Writing Studio:
The Writing Studio is an open access writing environment for students and instructors, available without charge. The Writing Studio class tools now include shared ePortfolios and a new Wiki-based Class Projects tool that allows members of a class to work collaboratively on a shared project. (A similar Group Projects tool will be available shortly for groups of students in a class.) The Writing Studio continues to offer a wide range of planning, composing, and commenting tools for writers, as well as access to the guides, activities, links, and other resources on the larger Writing@CSU Web site. Some of the most popular tools include our Blogs, ePortfolio, Working Bibliography, and Drafting tools. Visitors to the site are supported by a multimedia help system that offers more than 200 brief, how-to videos and text descriptions of key tools on the Studio.
I tried looking in the academic journals to see what other schools might be doing with technology. However, most articles were about the impact of relatively basic technologies and on-line course tools. I didn’t find anything that discussed more sophisticated document review and feedback tools. The following article is typical of what I found:
“One More Time: Transforming the Curriculum Across the Disciplines Through Technology-Based Faculty Development and Writing-Intensive Course Redesign”
Kelly A. Shea, Mary McAleer Balkun, Susan A. Nolan, John T. Saccoman, and Joyce Wright, Seton Hall University
Abstract: This article describes a writing-across-the-curriculum project that was born of one university's commitment to writing and ubiquitous computing. Faculty members across the disciplines, seeing an opportunity to re-introduce WAC on its campus through a curriculum development initiative funded out of an internal teaching, learning, and technology center, engaged nearly 70 faculty members in WAC training over four years. The project and its results are described, with special emphasis on three case studies from faculty members in psychology, mathematics, and nursing, who employed WAC principles and instructional technology to infuse writing into their teaching and their students' learning.
In my literature search, I did find the upcoming issue of Across the Disciplines that might be more helpful:
Publication: Fall 2008
Call for Proposals:
Writing Technologies and Writing Across the Curriculum: Current Lessons and Future Trends
Guest editor: Karin J. Lunsford, Writing Program, University of California at Santa Barbara
In their introduction to WAC for the New Millennium , Susan McLeod and Eric Miraglia note both challenges and advantages to WAC programs that may result as teaching with technology becomes widespread. On one hand, there is a concern that as instructors across campus begin to teach with technology, they face economic and administrative pressures to adopt pedagogies inimical to WAC goals. Technology becomes a means to "deliver instruction" more efficiently to ever larger classes, and thus the "banking model of education" may become privileged. On the other hand, technologies and uses for technologies are myriad, and instructors interested in WAC have always been adept at creating "cognitively rich" activities, spaces, and media for and with their students. Moreover, the technologies and norms for producing, revising, responding to, and distributing writing—whether to the general public or within the disciplines—rapidly change, and instructors respond to those changes. This special issue of ATD will explore how and why WAC/WID initiatives incorporate writing technologies, negotiate (or not) the calls for efficiency, and adapt to evolving disciplinary and cultural norms for writing.
We invite proposals for articles that explore questions such as the following, as well as others related to the topic of Writing Technologies and WAC/WID.
* ECAC (Electronic Communication Across the Curriculum) programs have been established for some time. Have the distinctions between ECAC and WAC/WID collapsed in today's academy? If not, what distinctions remain? If so, what are the consequences for programs today and in the future? And what lessons regarding efficiency and ingenuity have we learned from ECAC?
* Many campuses have adopted or are planning to adopt course management systems (Moodle, Blackboard/WebCT, Sakai, TOPIC, etc.). The CMSs offer various technologies for writing and writing instruction. How does the use of a CMS intersect (or not) with WAC/WID initiatives?
* WAC/WID initiatives often involve Writing Centers and Online Writing Labs (OWLs). What does research have to say about the intersections among WAC/WID programs, Writing Centers and/or OWLs, and writing technologies? Are new models developing?
* How are WAC/WID programs addressing the increase in multimodal forms of communication?
* How are WAC/WID programs addressing changes in disciplinary and cultural norms for writing (e.g., new publication or distribution formats, attitudes toward intellectual property, the use of social networking software, etc.)?
* Faculty across the curriculum often develop technologies for writing and for teaching (and assessing) writing—with or without consulting writing specialists. For example, faculty have advanced technologies such as calibrated peer review; plagiarism detection services; clickers; websites and blogs with writing advice; citation managers; and so on. How do WAC/WID programs intersect with these faculty initiatives? What strategies do programs adopt when faculty initiatives are at odds with WAC/WID goals?
* Do writing technologies enable multi-institutional and/or multi-national collaborations among WAC/WID programs? What models, if any, are evolving for such collaborations?
* What does research about WAC/WID programs have to tell us about questions of student and faculty access to technologies and/or about their use of technologies?
* How should we best train instructors across the curriculum to use writing technologies?
* What are the effects of computerized assessments of writing (e.g., ETS's e-rater) on WAC/WID?
* What technologies aside from computers should WAC/WID programs consider? What innovations on the horizon are likely to impact programs? What technologies should WAC/WID programs actively develop or take part in developing over the next ten years?
* As technologies become familiar, they often become invisible. What writing technologies deserve to be revisited at this point?