Online Writing Tool I Want

In a stack of papers called Technology.

  • Jan
  • 30
  • 2007

Here’s my ideal system. Students all have accounts using the same information as their Blogger account. After logging into the system, students have a list of all open assignments, clearly indicating which assignments they need to complete and which are archived assignments already finished. Students type their essay into a textarea, in much the same way they currently type blog entries. Their essay is saved and they can come back to edit it as many times as they want between the assign and due dates.

Update: I think Bedford/St. Martin’s Comment is exactly what I want. I’ll write a review of that system as soon as I can fiddle around with it.

There should be a way for teachers to turn the system on and off, allowing for the system to be closed after school hours. This would give students access to some assignments only during class.

Finally, students “submit” their paper to the teacher. After the due date, the “submit” link takes students to a “Sorry! This assignment was due on… No late work is accepted” page. This can be modified by the teacher and per assignment.

On the teacher side, I can see all students who have submitted their paper, the date submitted, and maybe even the number of times they logged into the system. I can read Word documents online without having to download the file. There’s a box at the top of their paper where I can type the final score. There are comments throughout the paper. There should be an easy and intuitive way to include common editing marks, mimicking the markings teachers would write on the paper. There’s also a final box for a lengthier summative comment.

Links to resources should be easily available from a preset or customized list. Adding those resources to a student’s paper would be a matter of clicking the resource and the link instantly appears in a “More Resources” box the student sees when logging in to check the grade. Teachers could even assign work from “More Resources.” When done grading papers, a click on “finished!” sends a notification to student email. The papers are kept in the student’s dashboard so s/he can log in to see the graded paper.

Score Archives

Adding a bit of socializing, it would be nice if papers were cross referenced (with student names and perhaps teacher comments removed) so students can see other papers that earned similar scores; their final score of 70 would be a link to an archive page that lists all other papers that earned a 70. This could be nice for the teacher, too. Hey, it could even be nice as a bank of exemplars for future students or other interested teachers.

I’m sure this is possible with WordPress MU, I just haven’t had the guts to install that anywhere. Any proofreading marks would be hard to add, but a teacher could come in and write on the paper using something like “<!––” to signify to the student writer that a comment is about to begin. And when the paper is shown in the score archive, none of the comments would display (just be sure to close your comment with ––>). I’m sure there’s a plugin to take those kinds of comments out of the_content so that they won’t even display if someone views the source of the page.

I briefly glanced at a way to comment on specific paragraphs that would be great for this system. I can’t find the succinct directions to make it happen. Someone let me know if you have a link for me.


1. Ben says:

[1/30/2007 - 9:42 am]

I’ve been heping out my wife with her online grad class she’s taking this winter and it sounds like what you’re describing is exactly what she’s using. The product her college uses is WebCT, which is prohibitively expensive for most K-12 schools. But it’s a nice system. The teacher posts assignments, you have an allotted time to finish them, and once the time is up, the submit feature gets locked out. You can either submit work via an attached word file or type it directly into a text field for posting. You can also view other turned in work if the instructor alloows it, making it a great way to workshop writing as well.

Does Moodle support the options you describe?

2. Todd says:

[1/30/2007 - 4:57 pm]

Has anyone else used Moodle for this kind of thing or know enough about it to say if it’ll work? Wait, wait… WebCT allows students to submit papers online? And then teachers can see the contents of those Word documents online, too, though some kind of control panel? Further, teachers can leave comments on that Word document online and the students can log in to see those comments from the teacher? I’ve never used WebCT. Ben, can you get some screen shots of what you’re talking about and email me? I’d like to see it. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll look further into Moodle.

3. Elona says:

[2/4/2007 - 8:59 am]

Todd, I didn’t have the guts to install WordPressMu either. But I did install because I can keep my class blog absolutely private so that only the students in the class have access. Only those who I invite can participate. The kids can still publish their work on line but the whole net work won’t have access to it.I’m bot that brave. If you’re interested check out my post called Blogging in The Classroom- By Invitation Only.

4. Bud Hunt says:

[2/6/2007 - 10:09 am]

Todd — What you’re describing is a lot like the way that I’m using Moodle — except for the essay cross referencing and sharing — which I like and which you could do in the Moodle, too, with a little extra work, I think. I’ve got some tweaks that I’d like to suggest to Moodle developers in order to comment more effectively in the middle of a paper, but I can do that now, too, without too much trouble.

If you’d like, I’d be happy to let you take a peek. Send me an e-mail and I’ll share some info. I should be sharing how I do this stuff, anyway.

5. Eric Hoefler says:

[2/18/2007 - 10:07 am]

I’ve been able to get a lot of mileage out of Joomla, though it’s not a perfect system. I did a write-up on it on my blog if you’re interested.