A tool for writers – improve your writing with a Carnegie Mellon prose style tool

By July 14, 2016English

The last days of June I spent  at a most interesting conference titled “Building bridges through academic writing: Research, policy and practice”.  The conference was hosted by Mofet institute in Tel Aviv.

Two intensive days of presentations, discussions and networking  were indeed mostly about research on academic writing (three very interesting and thought provoking keynotes and quite some very inspiring presentations) and  the practice of teaching academic writing in higher education, in general and in teacher education in particular. Policy issues were also presented as well as the notion of bridges between research and practice, between domains, institutions and (research) traditions.  The participants could enjoy views of beautiful bridges in Amsterdam that prof. Geert Rijlaarsdam used in a prelude to his keynote and experience some bridging experiencing in the informal activities organized by the host.

This is my first account of this event. I intend to share some of the insights I brought back from this conference and I will start with a practical item, that might be quite useful for our PH.D. students, may be also for our masters’ students writing in English.

One of the presentations was devoted to an online prose style tool for student writers, a product of research and design effort of Carnegie Mellon University. The tool was  presented by professor Chris Neuwirth. This tool is designed for students in Computer Science and Information Systems who as professionals will need to communicate with general public on the topics of their work. The tool guides student writers through the intricacies of formulating clearly,  focusing on the message and thinking about the reader. At Carnegie Mellon students use this tool to prepare for classes to use precious f2f time more effectively. The tool is also used provide learning analytics to both students and teachers and to collect data for research and improving design.

The good news is that this tool is an open resource that can be freely used by anyone interested. As all the open learning offer of CMU this tool can be reached at http://oli.cmu.edu .

After signing up you will see My academic courses option where you can search for cmuprosedemo

You will get access to a complete tutor which you can use freely.  Enjoy and learn!

Author Olga Firssova

Dr. Olga Firssova is Assistant professor at WELTEN Institute, Centre for Learning, Teaching and Technology, Open University Netherlands. Firssova has been involved in course and curriculum design, quality assurance and evaluation projects at the OU for 10 years and has been teaching various courses at the Master of Educational Science program. Research interests and areas of expertise include course and curriculum design, academic writing and design for inquiry-based learning with technologies. Knowledge construction in Massive Online courses is her new research interest. Currently Olga is involved a European project EMMA (European Multiple MOOC Aggregator).

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