Seven Digital Tools to Make Your Students Better Writers by Antonio Tooley

Seven Digital Tools to Make Your Students Better Writers by Antonio Tooley gives you the skinny on writing tools your students can use immediately. Creative writing is a process that happens in the human brain, and no technology can replace a good writer. However, the right technology can help you become a better one. It is a shame not to take advantage.

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Antonio Tooley

  • Antonio is a hopeless optimist who enjoys basking in the world’s brightest colors. He loves biking to distant places and occasionally he gets lost. When not doing that he’s blogging and teaching ESL. He will be happy to meet you on Facebook and Twitter.

Introduction

  • The personal computer has not been around that long, and neither has the Internet. Despite their relatively recent entry into society, these two have become so important in daily life that students cannot imagine a world without either. They use both tools to socialize, play games, keep up with the news, keep in touch with friends, and otherwise keep themselves entertained.
    However, very few people actually appreciate the potential of computer technology to serve a more complex purpose than finding out what their favorite celebrity had for breakfast. Digital technology is useful in everything – from organizing tasks to controlling the International Space Station. Using it for solving problems with creative tasks like writing is right up that alley. Students are lucky that information and useful apps are so accessible. It was not always like that. The great thing about digital technology is that most tools that can be of help for the research process are free to use or require just a little cash outlay. These apps are just out there, waiting. Here are seven of these tools to help students become better writers.

1. Trello

  • Managing projects just became easier with this simple and intuitive online task manager app. You can use it for creating a to-do list for each of your writing assignments (in separate boards), set deadlines for each task, make an outline, and even organize your references by attaching files. Best of all, you can invite people to help you through each task. All these functions can be done from one free account that syncs on all your devices so you can work on the go. Trello has a pretty neat interface so that all the task “cards” are on the dashboard allowing you to easily move everything around. The free account is fully functional. However, if you want more features, you can choose the paid version for $5 a month.

2. Ideaflip

  • Group writing assignments can be hard if you all have busy schedules and nary a common time to come together to discuss your action plan. Ideaflip is a cloud-based tool you can use to collaborate with group members to generate and organize ideas wherever you are, in real time. It uses post-it type notes that you can create, edit, drag and drop anywhere on the idea space. You can upload PDF, image, and CSV files, and even screenshots of websites. You export your collaboration as a slide presentation. All you have to do is simply create an account, invite your group members, and use the free 14-day trial version. The monthly subscription is $19 a month or $199 a year.

3. Edugeeksclub

  • If you are on your own – without a clue as to what to do and your friends are of no help – there is no need to panic. You can collaborate with the professional writers and editors of Edugeeksclub at any stage of your writing process. They can give you a crash course on what a polished, well-researched paper or essay looks like. If you just need research or editing help, they can do that, too. Rates vary depending on the work, the level of expertise required, and the urgency. The price range is from $1.99 to $29.99 a page.

4. Ilys

  • Ilys may possibly stand for “I love your style” because that is the whole message of this app to all writers. It seems to say, “Just keep writing, and whatever it is it will be wonderful, typos and all.” Well, maybe not wonderful, but the tool does get you writing until you reach your word count goal just to see what it looks like. You will probably edit a lot at first, but once you get used to the weird one-letter-at-a-time interface, you will start making fewer mistakes and need fewer edits. It is a great tool if you are a perpetual “I’ll do it later” type of writer, or if you have writer’s block. The trial version lets you compose up to 3,000 words, after which you pay $10.08 a month to continue using it.

5. Blankpage

  • One of the nightmare visions of all writers is staring at a blank page. This tool prevents that horror from becoming a reality because it helps you become productive by letting you write without distractions, and do so whenever and wherever you feel like it. In fact, this web-based app lets you set daily writing goals and nags you until you reach them. The minimalist interface harks back to paper and pen days when all you had to do was put one word after another in succession. You can jot down topics and ideas that you can go back to when you are ready to write it. It will also tell you how long it takes to read out the text, which is a useful feature when you are writing your valedictory speech. The downside is that there is no free trial version of this app. You can try it for $5 a week (plus VAT). If you like it, you can upgrade to the $10 a month or the $100 a year plans (plus VAT).

6. Dailypage

  • Most people need a nudge to start writing, and this online app does just that by giving you daily prompts. You can chose to respond or not, but either way, it does give you writing ideas. You can choose to make your response private or public. You can also check out what other users are writing about the same topic. It can help you develop your writing skills day by day, and you can even take one of their paid online writing courses if you want. It is free to use after signing up on the site.

7. Onlinecorrection

  • This is a cool free online tool for finding spelling, grammar, and stylistic mistakes. You don’t even have to sign up to use it. Just copy and paste the passage you want to check, or type directly on the window. OnlineCorrection will then go through each gaffe and error with you and give suggestions for correction or improvement. It does not catch all mistakes, but it does catch a lot.
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