Artificial Intelligence and Writing Feedback

Image by Creativity103 on Flickr (CC)

When you hear the term “Artificial Intelligence,” a great many things may come to mind, such as sentient space craft a la 2001 or friendly humanoid robots from Star Wars. The fact of the matter is, what once was science fiction is now science fact. Artificial intelligence is alive and well in the realm of software engineering.

There are many tools available online that implement artificial intelligence to assist in tasks. For the realm of literacy and writing, there are many such programs available, many of which you may very well be using in your classrooms. The most commonly known AI program among educators is Turn It In, a service that helps educators catch plagiarism, but there are many more available that can help in the writing process, both for first and second language learners.

SAS has their own program called Writing Reviser, in which artificial intelligence algorithms search a submitted piece for corrections that need to be made. The service offers instant feedback, but does no corrections for the student in their writing. Instead, the feedback gives tips such as “Too wordy” to help guide students in self-correction. This is a significant step forward as it forces the learner to make their own revisions without heavy reliance on the technology to complete the task for them.

ETS also has a similar service, called Criterion, to help students with improving their writing scores on standardized tests. Their artificial intelligence system is the e-Rater Scoring Engine, which examines writing and offers a holistic assessment based upon natural language use.

CTB MacGraw Hill also offers a program called Writing Roadmap, which offers automatic feedback in a variety of writing styles for those in grades 3-12.

With all of these educational companies embracing the use of artificial intelligence, we can see that this dynamic shift in the writing evaluation process will alter the way we as educators offer feedback. Error correction is always a touchy field to navigate, as we do not wish to damage the learner ego of our students, especially during their formative years.

While many may not view these services the same as the fantastic image of artificial intelligence they have imagined in their minds, their existence is the first step to many new and wonderful technologies to help engage our students in the writing process. eSchool News has written several articles of note on issue, which can all help to expand your understanding of how technology and education are coming together.

One comment on “Artificial Intelligence and Writing Feedback

  1. […] push to develop robots to teach English in rural communities. Last week I wrote about the use of artificial intelligence in writing feedback, and now this week, I would like to extend that discussion from web-based applications to […]

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