As a facilitator for the University of Phoenix Online, I get to see what they’re doing quite early in the process, and as the largest for-profit educational business in the world, it’s worth keeping track, because in many ways they’re leading the move into online education.
This morning’s news is that their Center for Writing Excellence is announcing a new service called WritePoint Review…
“This is a new automated review service. Students can upload their papers for review, and within minutes they will receive detailed feedback on how they can improve their academic papers and their writing style in general. Comments will focus on format, grammar, organization, punctuation, and usage, but not course content. Content feedback is the responsibility of you as the individual course instructor. NOTE: This service is still in its early stages and may not yet address a comprehensive range of writing errors. However, it should provide students with valuable feedback even now and will become more comprehensive and address a wider range of writing issues over the coming months.”
I read this and realized that what they’ve probably done is taken all those readability scores, sentence complexity analysis tools, and similar that I first bumped into in 1982 on Unix under the umbrella of the AT&T Writer’s Workbench. I’m not 100% positive it’s the same thing, of course, but if that’s the basis of WritePoint Review, it’s a remarkably simple idea and one that could be created in just a few hours.