Wednesday, November 3, 2010

OuiBox - Never Write a Paper Again?

I recently read an item in our Herald-Leader newspaper about a 25-year-old local man who is launching a website that promises the student user, "Never write a paper again." OuiBox uses technology to make composing easier, but does it really work?

As a librarian, I hate to feel that I am making things more difficult than they have to be for students, but like most things, the quick fix doesn't work very well. I signed up for a free OuiBox account to check it out.

When you write papers on OuiBox's site, you can use its "Genius" technology to research your paper as you write it. For example, if you topic is smoking bans' impact on lung cancer rates, you can highlight the words "smoking ban" in your paper and instantly be given links to websites on this topic. I am sure this would delight many students at first use. However, the real problem is that the links are, of course, just websites on the free, open web. Wikipedia is usually at or near the top of the list.

I think students, at least college students, will not be so delighted when they receive their grades. Even with links to academic journal articles, I wonder how well thought out most papers are when students try to write before thinking through their topics. Still, though, the technology is innovative, and I think the young entrepreneur of the company has a bright future ahead of him.


Sybil said...

This is why I make my freshman humanities students write their essays in class instead of assigning out of class papers.

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