Thursday, May 08, 2008

Crick Soft Day

I'm at a Crick Soft day and the main thing they are talking about this morning is WriteOnline. It looks interesting. It is a Java based application, so it uses the power of your machine rather than relying on a remote server but has the advantages of remote storage and access to your documents anywhere you have Internet access. However, you also get offline access if you are not connected to the Internet. And it looks like a word processor with icons and standard keyboard shortcuts.

What is good about it (apart from all the online, sharing goodies that comes from online applications) is that you get a bundle of the Crick Soft type goodies integrated with the application. For example, it can speak as you type (like Clicker), Wordbar is built in as is predictive typing. The predictive typing picks up work from the Worbar. It is a doddle to create specialist wordbars - you can paste in a chunk of text (the demo took a chunk from Wikipedia) and ask Wordbar to exclude common words and short words. An instant word bank is then generated.  Very cool.

Teacher tools include the ability to comment on work by highlighting and typing a note. (Students can also added comments. Currently you can't have collaborative documents but when this feature is added, they may want to send messages to fellow authors. There are also analysis tools for the teacher. These include information about how long the student worked on the document, what words were misspelled and corrected (so you can see if the student has trouble with "ly" endings for example) and a record of pasted text (some help in checking plagiarism).

Various preferences can be set and these are saved with your profile and so follow you wherever you log on. There are for example various accessibility options for the visually impaired. The save option allows saving either online or locally. 

Currently the image handling is poor, but they are working on it. At the moment, there is only the choice to save in native format or html. 

You can Take a tour of WriteOnline if you want to get a feel for what it can do.

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1 comment:

M O'Callaghan said...

Thought today's Crick Soft Day was excellent. They seem to have drawn the best features from a variety of applications e.g. CoWriter, Wordbar and Clicker and created a worthwhile tool with potential to support students from upper primary to college undergraduates.