University Writing Program Educational Technologies for Writing Instruction Statement

Virginia Tech’s University Writing Program recognizes that contemporary rhetoric and writing instruction in higher education has become intertwined with myriad educational technologies. We endorse the adoption of educational technologies that are ethically designed, informed by research, and thoughtfully responsive to contemporary developments in the field of rhetoric and composition/writing studies; some educational technologies, however, are misaligned or explicitly at odds with well-established, well-respected, and research-driven approaches to effective writing instruction. The University Writing Program leadership team recommends a steadfast critical regard toward all educational technology platforms and products, particularly those that are predisposed 1) to purporting efficiencies for grading or feedback; 2) to deferring interpretive acts to artificial intelligence, nonhuman readers, or automation; 3) to presuming a priori linguistic or intellectual deficiencies in students; and 4) to policing or suspicion regarding students’ intellectual property, source use, or intertextual projects. In support of this goal, we have prepared the following table as a short-hand reference with ratings applied to selected ed tech products, and we will update this information as educational technologies change.

University Writing Program Educational Technologies Ratings

Note: The table below presents ratings based on pedagogical appropriateness informed by scholarship and research in Rhetoric and Composition/Writing Studies. Before adopting any educational technology for your teaching at Virginia Tech, please consult the ITPALS Cobblestone database to look up whether the platform has been approved by ITPALS, ITSO, Legal Counsel, and the Registrar’s office.  

ProductProgram Rating for Ethical and Effective Writing PedagogyRationale
ELI ReviewHigh approvalELI Review is a research-based, classroom tested platform for fostering peer review processes.
GrammarlyCautionGrammarly may be helpful for identifying some grammatical and syntactic issues, but it should not be a substitute for applied practice with writing guided by teachers, peers, and writing center consultants.
KritikDisapprovalKritik conflates reviewer feedback with grading; indicates efficiencies as most prominent appeal.
PerusallHigh approvalPerusall fosters the collective annotation of common readings, augmenting textual engagement, interpretation, and dialogue among readers and writers.
TurnitinDisapprovalTurnitin uses a text-matching algorithm and focuses on authorial originality. These emphases send mixed, confusing messages about common syntactic strings, or phrases, to apprenticing writers. Dubious qualities include taking liberties with writers’ intellectual property in school contexts and encouraging a suspicious predisposition toward students.

Approved unanimously (8-0) by the Composition Program Committee on Monday, March 29, 2021.

Contact writing -AT- if you have questions or wish to discuss this statement. The University Writing Program encourages the re-use and/or adaptation of this language by other programs, departments, and academic units.