FAQs


General      |      For students      |      For Instructors      |      For Writing Centers

 

 

GENERAL

Q:  What is WriteLab?

A:  WriteLab analyzes writers' Drafts and offers revisions, suggestions, and questions about sentence-level writing features. WriteLab encourages students to learn by exercising authority over their prose and by making decisions about what they want to say and how they want to say it. Our goal is simple: to empower students to write with confidence.

 

 

Q:  Who created WriteLab?

A:  WriteLab is the first online writing software designed and built by teachers, tutors, and students. It draws on decades of experience from senior faculty members and writing program directors. WriteLab is uniquely geared toward addressing the challenges and opportunities students face as they write.

 

 

A:  WriteLab offers feedback at the level of the line, mostly about stylistic and grammatical issues. Our goal is to help you write strong, clear prose that your readers will understand, so much of WriteLab's feedback focuses on stylistic issues. To learn more about the writing features detected by WriteLab, visit the Guide.

WriteLab does not help you with research, argumentation and structure, or citations.

Right now, we're in beta testing with the Essay Builder, which will help you outline and plan your essay.

Q:  What does WriteLab do? What doesn't it do?

 

 

 

A:  You can use WriteLab at any point in the writing process. Many users find WriteLab most helpful as they revise, edit, and proof. Our newest tool, the Essay Builder, will help you as you begin the writing process.

Q:  At what part of the writing process should I use WriteLab?

 

 

Q:  How does WriteLab differ from a grammar checker or an automated grader?

A:  WriteLab is a new kind of writing tool. We have reached new levels of efficiency with language thanks to grammar and spell checkers, but effective writing is not about avoiding mistakes: it's about improving with practice over time. WriteLab calls attention to more meaningful features of writing, such as word choice, emphasis, structure, and tone, and it offers suggestions, not scores.

 

Q:  How does WriteLab work?

A:  Drawing on the latest developments in machine learning and natural language processing, WriteLab uses probability and statistics to identify patterns and choices in language and provide thoughtful assistance to improve specific features of your writing.


A: Yes, you can. For more information, visit our integrations page.

Q:  Can I use WriteLab with my learning management system?


Q:  Will WriteLab fix my paper?

A:  WriteLab will help you improve your paper. We ask suggest revisions and ask questions. We have crafted each response to enable you to exercise full authority over your choices as a writer. You make the decisions.


Q:  How does WriteLab account for stylistic differences between writers?

A:  WriteLab uses machine learning to remember how you write. Over time, WriteLab adapts to your writing preferences. If you don't find a Comment helpful (or you don't want us to keep pointing out your love of adverbs) you can discard that Comment. Every time you discard a Comment, you reduce the probability that you'll see it again.


Q:  What's happening at WriteLab?

A:  We're always tinkering here at WriteLab – whether we're writing new algorithms, improving interface functionality, or developing new features. Right now, we're working to make our suggestions more specific and actionable.


Q:  How do I get started with WriteLab?

A:  Create a free trial account, enter some writing, and look over WriteLab's feedback. To set up WriteLab in a class, set up an instructor account. If you want to use WriteLab in your writing center, contact info@writelab.com.


A:  Take a look at our How it Works pages or email us at help@writelab.com – we'll get back to you right away.

Q:  The site isn't working for me! What do I do?


A:  Don't worry! If you don't understand a Comment, click the ? icon in the corner of the comment box to see the corresponding Guide entry or ask us a question. In the Guide, we provide detailed explanations and examples of each writing feature we detect. If you still don't understand the Comment, let us know, and we'll get back to you.

Q:  I don't understand WriteLab's Comments / What's the Guide?


A:  WriteLab offers observations, asks questions, and gives suggestions. It does not tell you what to do. You decide what to revise and what to leave as it is. So, no, you shouldn't address all of WriteLab's comments. You should only address a Comment when you think doing so will improve your writing.

Q:  Should I address all of WriteLab's Comments?


A:  Each Document you create will have one or more Drafts (different iterations of that document). You create a new Document when you press + Create, and you create a new Draft each time you click "Analyze Draft" to get new comments.

Why does this matter? You can choose which Drafts of a Document to share with your instructor, and which to keep private.

Q:  What's the difference between a Document and a Draft?


A:  Your work is ready to be read when you've done all you can with it and you're ready for someone else to see it. Whether you want a peer or an instructor to read it and give you feedback, or whether you're ready to submit it to your instructor for a grade … that's up to you.

Q:  How do I know when my work is ready to be read?


A:  We will not make public any Document you create or any information about individual users. For a full account of our privacy policy, see our Privacy & Terms.

Q:  What's your privacy policy?


A:  Email us! We'd love to hear from you!

Q:  I have some ideas about WriteLab. How can I contribute?


 

FOR STUDENTS

A:  WriteLab offers as much feedback as you want, without judgment, grades, or scores. By helping you practice writing in this way, WriteLab helps you become a better, more confident writer. You're a Draft away from success, and WriteLab can help you get there.

Q:  What does WriteLab do for me as a student?


A:  You can use WriteLab as often as you want. If you write only in the two or three days before essays are due, you won't spend much time practicing writing, at least not in the regular way you'd practice an instrument or a sport. WriteLab will offer you instant feedback on all your Drafts, however many you submit and whenever you submit them, and it provides the perfect place for you to practice your writing regularly. You can also use WriteLab for non-academic prose.

Q:  When should I use WriteLab? Only when I have an essay due or more often?


A:  Absolutely not. WriteLab's Comments never tell you what to say: they're aimed at making you more aware of the choices you make as you write and more confident in making those choices. Far from writing your essay for you, WriteLab helps you develop your own voice.

Q:  Is using WriteLab to help me write my essay cheating?


A:  No. WriteLab offers you extensive feedback, but it doesn't tell you what to do. You, and you alone, decide what to do with the feedback that is offered. Because everyone will decide differently, no two pieces of writing will sound the same. For instance, when you write with WriteLab, you'll be more aware of when you use passive verbs. That doesn't mean you won't use passive verbs; it just means that, when you do, you'll use them deliberately.

Q:  If all WriteLab students respond to the same Comments, will all our essays sound the same? 


A:  You can use WriteLab to help you write and revise your essays, and then you can use WriteLab to share your work with peers or instructors. If you're using WriteLab in a class, your instructor has likely set up a Course and created Assignments on WriteLab for you. Check out our How it Works page to learn more about using WriteLab's Courses and Assignment functionalities.

Q:  How do I use WriteLab in a class?


A:  When you share a Draft, you can control permissions (view-only or view-and-comment), and you can control which Drafts of a Document are shown or hidden. When you add a Draft or multiple Drafts of a Document to a Course, your instructor(s) can view and comment on your work.

Q:  What's the difference between sharing a Draft with my instructor and adding a Draft to a Course?


A:  WriteLab's Comments will appear when you click on the WriteLab Modules (Clarity, Logic, Concision, and Grammar). Your instructor's comments, or comments by any other reviewer, will appear when you click on the Notes Module (called "Notes").

Q:  How do I distinguish WriteLab's Comments from my instructor's Comments?


 

FOR INSTRUCTORS

A:  WriteLab's analytics provide you with comprehensive information about student progress across multiple Drafts and Assignments. This helps you group students together in peer review to maximize their collective strengths, while WriteLab's Instructor's Dashboard gives you an easy way to organize your courses and assignments while responding to student drafts directly in WriteLab.

Q:  What does WriteLab do for me as an instructor?


A:  WriteLab encourages students to work through multiple Drafts until they decide their writing is ready-to-be-read. In our latest round of beta testing, we found that students typically write between five and nine Drafts per Document (essay) in WriteLab.

WriteLab's Comments are detailed and specific. By focusing on sentence features and developing clear and direct prose, students can learn to better recognize and refine their ideas. Additionally, students can take advantage of WriteLab's questions to revise their Drafts and prepare their own questions before meeting with you during office hours.

Q:  What does WriteLab do for my students?


A:  WriteLab provides feedback on style, mechanics, and the more common grammar issues, but not on argumentation or structure. Helping students address writing issues at the level of the line frees you to focus on teaching higher-order thinking and writing skills. That said, we are currently working on an Essay Builder to help students develop their ideas.

Q:  Does WriteLab help students with argumentation and structure?


A:  You can view all the Drafts that a student has chosen to share with you.

Q:  Can I see all the Drafts that a student has written?


A:  WriteLab's three style modules (Clarity, Concision, and Logic) help students develop fluency beyond grammar, while WriteLab's Grammar Module helps them avoid the common grammatical pitfalls of English.

Q:  How does WL support ESL or ELL students?


A:  WriteLab can easily be integrated into online courses. Once you set up a Course on WriteLab, students can share their Drafts with instructors and peers, and communicate with you through WriteLab's Notes feature. Want to use WriteLab with a Learning Management System? Let us know and we'll get everything set up for you.

Q:  Can WL support students in online courses?


A:  WriteLab doesn't score, so when students write with WriteLab, they aren't writing to satisfy arbitrary requirements. Instead, they improve their writing iteratively, revising and reworking over multiple drafts until their prose is ready to be read by an instructor or workshopped with a peer. By focusing on the process rather than the product, WriteLab encourages students to take ownership of their prose as they write and revise. With an emphasis on revision though multiple Drafts, WriteLab makes plagiarism not just risk, but risk plus work.

Q:  How does WL help ensure academic integrity?


A:  View graphs showing students' habits as they write and revise, their strengths and weaknesses, and their progress across multiple Drafts and Documents (essays). Learn more here.

Q:  What information can I see in the Analytics section?


A:  Yes! The data we provide in WriteLab is a resource meant to help you as a teacher. If you want to share your findings, we would be happy to hear from you.

Q:  Can I use my students' data in my own research (on reading, writing, and instructional practices)?


A:  We offer one-on-one assistance giving your students access to WriteLab. Schedule a 30-minute online demo to get started. This session will also include information on how you can introduce the software to your class.

Q:  How do I give my students access to WriteLab?


 

FOR WRITING CENTERS

A:  WriteLab encourages students to work through multiple drafts until they decide their writing is ready-to-be-read. In our latest round of beta testing, we found that students typically write between five and nine Drafts per Document (essay) in WriteLab.

WriteLab's Comments are detailed and specific. By focusing on sentence-level features and developing clear and direct prose, students can learn to better recognize and refine their ideas. Additionally, students can take advantage of WriteLab's questions to revise their Drafts and prepare their own questions before meeting with a tutor.

Q:  What does WriteLab do for my students?


A:  Our software makes it possible for you to see comprehensive analytics about your students' academic writing. Writing centers already record data on student behavior (unique visits, reason for visit, etc.), but no writing center currently generates analytics on the writing that occurs as a result of those visits. We provide data about the decisions your students make as they move from one Draft to the next.

Students who use WriteLab in Writing Centers have worked through multiple Drafts and made thousands of decisions about their writing in the process.

We've found that students like working in our Concision Module – they prefer tightening their prose over expanding it to fit minimum word requirements. They have also shown considerable interest in limiting their use of passive verbs, in direct response to the Clarity Module identifying those verbs. The Logic Module helps students think through their reasoning, while Grammar ensures that tutors can spend less time focused on the small stuff.

When students register an account through your writing center, they can access WriteLab from anywhere. Whether they work from the center or from home, their WriteLab sessions contribute to your analytics.

In this capacity, WriteLab researches student growth over the course of a single draft and across an entire year.

Q:  What does WriteLab do for me as a writing center director?


A:  When students write multiple Drafts, they reduce the amount of time tutors have to spend working through minor adjustments and matters of clarity. We've found that tutors express some anxiety when reviewing sentence-level features of writing with their students. WriteLab provides the discourse for tutors to explain how their students can articulate themselves more effectively in the specific areas indicated by WriteLab.

WriteLab's Comments give tutors many starting points for discussing student Drafts. With our sharing and commenting features, instructors are able to add their own comments to student Drafts. Tutors can see these notes and use them to focus the conversation further, eliminating the need to speculate about the expectations of the instructor.

Q:  What does WriteLab do for me as a tutor?


A:  Absolutely not. Far from replacing tutors, WriteLab complements and supports the work they do. Check out one teacher's thoughts on why WriteLab won't replace tutors.

Q:  Will WriteLab replace tutors?


A:  Here are some ways writing centers have used Writelab:

Drop-in center: When a large number of students come into a writing center with a limited number of tutors on staff, students upload their documents to WriteLab while waiting to meet with a tutor. Students have the opportunity to revise their writing with the help of WriteLab's Comments before the drop-in session. Tutors at Chabot College report that this enables them to work with prepared students who have already made decisions about what they want to say and how they want to say it.

Recurring appointments: Tutors ask their students to work through multiple Drafts in Writelab before their next session. During the next session, tutors review the decisions the student made from Draft to Draft and discuss the impact of these revisions on the essay. Because WriteLab addresses sentence-level aspects of writing, tutors focus on higher-level needs like organization and developing ideas. Tutors read student writing in WriteLab or as a hard-copy.

Tutor Training: Tutors use WriteLab to develop their knowledge of sentence-level writing features. WriteLab's comments serve as a model, helping train tutors in the different ways they can respond to student writing (with observations, questions, suggestions). Tutors at Chabot College report that WriteLab provides professional development in tutoring sentence-level writing features.

Online tutoring: WriteLab supports asynchronous online tutoring. Students can share their Drafts with tutors and ask tutors to comment on their shared Drafts in WriteLab, allowing students and tutors to collaborate outside the writing center.

Q:  How can I implement WriteLab in my writing center?


A:  We offer one-on-one assistance giving your students access to WriteLab. If you're writing center hasn't yet set up an account with WriteLab, schedule a free 30-minute introduction and demo. This session will also include information on how you can introduce the software to your writing center. If your writing center has already set up an account, then you can visit our How it Works page for detailed instructions on inviting tutors and students to WriteLab.

Q:  How do I give my students access to WriteLab?


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