Project Name: BlabRyte
Grantee: Anna Alexis Larsson
Funding Cycle: 2017-2018
White Paper: LARSSON_BLABRYTE_S18 White Paper
About the Project
BlabRyte is an online space where students can respond to writing prompts and get credit for low-stakes, exploratory writing while keeping it private. Blabryte structures a habit of writing frequently and delivers information about those habits, not their content, to instructors and peers. It is, therefore, not only a tool for low-stakes writing, but an argument that defines low-stakes writing as writing that instructors often do not read. Many instructors define low-stakes as informal and ungraded writing, because many students become inhibited and self-evaluating in their exploratory writing the moment they know someone will read their words. For them, that is, such writing is not “low stakes.” BlabRyte creates space for a private mode of early writing that students can draw from in order to produce middle-stakes and formal prose. Although scholars in composition and rhetoric have argued for more research in low-stakes and private writing, most instructors in their field under-theorize their informal assignments. The students who suffer most from this are those who feel the most pressure to be risk-free at the writing table.
When students log on to the BlabRyte interface, they will see a writing prompt at the top of the screen, written and selected by the instructor, with space to respond below. Pasting text is impossible, so they will have to work through the entire writing process on the interface. At the right, a “feed,” much like a social media update on fellow users, shows “stats” of the student’s classmates. Stats are everything that students and instructors can access, because student content is not shared. Stats are created when students meet the assigned word count and “send” the basic data about their word count, time of writing, and speed, to their instructor. Students are urged to export their text to a Word or text file when they click “send.” All their content is erased once they click “yes” or “no” to the export question. Students have the opportunity to see how fast, how much, and when their fellow students respond to the same writing prompts. Researches in Rhetoric and Composition can use the same data to study the relationships between student habits at this stage in the process and their later, formal writing.