Online writing

Purdue Reaches Agreement Between Online Writing Lab and Educational Tools Company

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue’s online writing lab, which attracts hundreds of millions of visits per year from students writing term assignments and job seekers writing resumes, will help fuel the writing tools produced by Chegg, in a deal announced Wednesday afternoon by the University and Society in Santa Clara, Calif.

“We have so many great resources,” said Harry Denny, Purdue English teacher and director of the Purdue Writing Lab. “It’s a great way to put those resources to work. “

Chegg is a publicly traded company that, according to a company report, “provides more than 30 million students with AI-based technology to help them improve citations, grammar and writing, and to prevent accidental plagiarism “.

Through Chegg’s site and apps, students can upload documents and get instant feedback on grammar, spelling, and more effective ways to get a message across. Denny said the site would draw on the expertise of the online writing lab and give students access to the lab’s reference guides on research papers, topic-specific writing, and general writing.

“The Purdue OWL is recognized worldwide as the authority on the teaching of writing,” said Nathan Schultz, president of learning services at Chegg. “We just wanted to work with the best writing center possible, and that is the OWL.”

Denny said this was not the first public-private partnership for the online writing lab, which will mark its 25th year in 2019. He did not provide details of the previous partnership.

Denny said the deal with Chegg would be worth “more than seven figures” for Purdue. He said Purdue would retain control of the online writing lab.

The Online Writing Lab is an extension of Purdue’s Writing Lab, which started 43 years ago at Heavilon Hall.

The online writing lab attracted 330 million visits and 515 million pageviews in fiscal year 2017-18, according to Purdue figures.

Denny said the online writing lab tip sheets and style guides will remain free at owl.purdue.edu. These, he said, don’t come with the artificial intelligence features that Chegg brings to materials.

Schultz said that Chegg’s advanced writing aid, which covers grammar checking and plagiarism, is a paid product. The company’s Citation products – which are ad-supported and used by 30 million students each year – are free to all users, he said. Purdue’s OWL resources will be part of the two services, aimed primarily at high school and college students, he said.

“Half the time we are dealing with people who have been beaten so badly by grammarians and people have really restricted notions of writing that students are afraid to speak, write or do anything. “said Denny. “So getting them to a place where they’re comfortable expressing themselves and organizing their thoughts… then we worry about the prose. But students are so upset about putting a comma in the wrong place or using a preposition incorrectly that they have all kinds of performance anxiety.

Denny said the deal had been underway for over a year, before the online writing lab became an unwitting player in a controversy over suspicion that Purdue banned the word “man” from academic papers. .

The story, revealed in February 2018 by the Campus Reform website, then picked up by Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight”, among others. Conservative media released a ten-year-old online writing lab guide on how to avoid sexist words – ‘firefighter’ instead of ‘firefighter’, ‘police officer’ instead of ‘cop,’ “Doctor” instead of “female doctor” – in a true “prohibition of the man”.

(Carlson famously dismissed the West Lafayette campus as “an accredited university, apparently” where it’s easy “to bully little rich kids who go to your school” and pay “like $ 60,000, or whatever. or, for the fake diploma you get. “)

Purdue ultimately dismissed the strand powered by ‘Fox and Friends’ and various talk shows, as teachers came to the online writing lab’s defense over the writing rules compiled over the years from various style guides and accepted practices.

Denny said this incident Chegg was aware of this outbreak, although it had no bearing on the deal.

“This partnership is an interesting testament to a 25-year long history of empowering students, faculty and research in writing,” said Denny. “Everything you see on the OWL is the culmination of all the work students and faculty have put into producing all of these resources over the years. “

Contact Dave Bangert at 765-420-5258 or [email protected] Follow on Twitter: @davebangert.