After reviewing ROLE’s previous tech reviews (Canva, Google Docs, Skype, VoiceThread, and Comparing Google Sites/Weebly/WordPress) as well as the publication’s Guidelines and style guide, I originally proposed to review one of the following technologies for an upcoming issue of ROLE: Achieve for English by Macmillan or Discord. However, after proposing the review, I learned that reviews would not be feasible. I’ve added updates to each tech overview below to explain further.
Achieve for English
Achieve for English is a new application offered by Macmillan Learning and is meant to work in conjunction with or in lieu of an existing LMS. The app is meant to assist teachers and learners in the online writing environment. Macmillan is offering a free semester trial to let instructors at one of my institutions pilot the app in the Spring.
I would provide a review of this app describing its purpose and features, evaluating its accessibility and facilitation of literacy learning, assessing its potential benefits and challenges, and laying out its typical cost to institutions/instructors and students. I would evaluate the features of the app in light of online literacy instruction scholarship. I would seek clearance from my institution’s review board to share screenshots of the technology and comments/feedback from students in the class using it. Ultimately, I would make a recommendation as to whether to implement the app in future online writing classes.
Update: I am not teaching first-semester, first-year writing in the Spring for the institution Macmillan offered this trial to. Therefore, I will not use it in a class and would not feel comfortable reviewing it without usage.
Discord is a free tech that allows users to communicate via voice, text, and video. It is popular with teens and gamers. Users set up servers for their private groups or communities.
I propose to encourage use of Discord as an alternative method of communication (outside the LMS) for an upcoming collaborative project in an online workplace writing class. At the end of the project, I would review the tech, providing its benefits and challenges, student feedback, comparison to similar communication apps. Essentially, I’d be assessing how well the app is adapted for the learning environment, attempting to tie features to online literacy scholarship. I would include screenshots of the tech and seek clearance from my institution’s review board to share any images/information specific to the class/students. Ultimately, I would make a recommendation as to whether Discord is a viable alternative communication method for online group work.
Update: Though I did encourage my students to use Discord for group communications and received some positive feedback from them regarding the tech, I do not believe that enough of them used it nor did I collect sufficient feedback from them to offer an insightful review at this time.