Project Name: BlabRyte
Grantee: Anna-Alexis Larsson
Discipline: English (Rhetoric and Composition)
Funding Cycle: 2018-2019
Project Status: Complete
White Paper: AnnaLarsson2018-2019PDIG_WhitePaper
About the Project:
BlabRyte, the web application for private writing, creates a space for students to think in words without worrying about performing for the instructor. Until now it was impossible to capture the labor of student writers in private writing. At best, instructors collect writing that they promise not to read, but this requires a level of trust and mutual respect that many students lack in their educational histories. BlabRyte presents students with the instructor’s prompt and a text window. When students submit their “blabs” to instructors, the text is kept with the student alone, and the instructor receives only information about the device and browser type, the time of writing, and the wordcount—not the content of the “blab.” Student accounts feature a progress chart that visually represents the writing practice that the student builds using BlabRyte. By getting them to write regularly as they privately explore and reflect on course topics, and by incentivizing it with a portion of the course grade, BlabRyte gives students a safe space to think in writing and a chance to experience flow in both private and shared, feedback-oriented writing assignments. This carries the potential to radically improve the student experience of the college writing process. It further offers a change in the student-instructor relationship by giving autonomy to students over whether they write in direct response to their prompts or improvise according to their needs in the moment. In any course that requires students to write in process, including pre-writing or “writing to think,” such exploratory work can seem unimportant compared to the formal performances of final essays. BlabRyte adds a much-needed dimension that accounts for the importance of writing as a practice of actively thinking in words, and the importance, as well, of not having to share those initial or spontaneous first words to receive credit.