Smart Review | Better Writing Feedback From WriteLab

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WriteLab provides intelligent feedback on writing.

Created by Matthew Ramirez, a UC Berkeley graduate student, and Don McQuade, his advisor, the software combines writing algorithms with decades of experience responding to student writing.

The two-year old browser-based service provides writing feedback to college and high school students on uploaded essays, and nearly 20,000 students and instructors currently use it.

“We wanted to create white space where students could practice,” said Don McQuade. The writing software encourages the self-confidence that emerges from practice. It’s not a correcting tool or an automated essay scoring system; it provides formative feedback at the sentence level.

By providing stylistic and grammatical feedback, WriteLab helps writers develop strong, clear prose. It allows teachers and students to focus on research strategies, argumentation and structure.

WriteLab’s Essay Builder is available in beta. The most common-use case is college freshman English, but it’s also being used increasingly in high schools and middle schools. (See FAQ.)

Using natural language processing and machine learning to assess the concision, clarity, logic and grammar of the writing, WriteLab provides actionable comments and suggestions for students to consider. They can view the color-coded comments and resolve them as ”addressed,”  “unaddressed,” or “not helpful.”

After joining a course, a student can view assignments, share drafts with peers and instructors, as well as review instructor comments. Students can make notes on both their own writing and the drafts of others as well as share their responses.

WriteLab offers a free service that limits functionality, with a paid premium service option that expands student functionality and instructor data.

The company recently raised $2 million in a seed funding round led by Reach Capital with participation from Kapor and Learn Capital. According to CEO Ramirez, the investment will help the company to expand into additional markets.


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