CyWrite, a state-of-the art system for automated writing evaluation (AWE) under development at Iowa State University, is currently being trialed in the university’s undergraduate ESL composition courses, English 101B and English 101C. In English 101B, for example, students are developing the first and second drafts of each major writing assignment in CyWrite before downloading and submitting them as Microsoft Word documents.
Similar to established AWE tools such as the ETS’s Criterion Online Writing Evaluation Service and Vantage Learning’s MY Access, CyWrite provides word-, sentence-, and paragraph-level feedback on student writing. Unlike these other tools, however, CyWrite features:
- real-time feedback that appears as the user writes, rather than requiring submission of complete drafts that may lead to overwhelming amounts of feedback;
- a custom, hybrid Natural Language Processing (NLP) framework that makes use of both statistical and rule-based approaches to textual analysis (most AWE systems employ one or the other);
- an emulated web-based text editor, similar to the one developed for Google Docs, that captures character-by-character changes in a developing text, which can be played back as a screen capture by student users, their instructors, and researchers.
In addition, CyWrite is distributed as a cloud service embeddable in any web application with a single line of code and customizable through application programming interfaces (APIs). In the current trial, CyWrite has been integrated as an activity in Moodle, the Learning Management System (LMS) used to teach many of the courses offered by the English Department. This means students can access the editor directly from within their English course website rather than having to navigate and log in to an external website.
To leverage the experience of the current trial, the CyWrite project team will host a retreat this spring bringing together English instructors from Iowa State, as well as other potential collaborators, to hear their ideas on future enhancements to the system’s design and functionality. For more information about the current trial or the spring retreat, contact Jim Ranalli at jranalli (at) iastate (dot) edu.
You can also:
- See a public demo of the CyWrite editor. (Please share suggestions or report bugs using the big red bug button at the top right side of the toolbar.)
- Read more about CyWrite’s Editor, Analyzer and other innovative components.