I teach instructional technology at Clemson University and I’m director of a unit called the South Carolina Center of Excellence for Instructional Technology Training. For the past three years our group has had a grant to help teachers learn to support student writing with digital images. One of the outcomes of that project has been the development of an online writing and publishing system that we call the Digital XPress. The system isn’t perfect, but we’re proud of it, and we’d like to share it.

This post is an open invitation to Classroom 2.0 members to check out the Digital XPress and open an account to use with their classes. Accounts are free.

Here’s some basic information that is probably worth knowing:
1. There are two interfaces – the teachers’ interface and the students’ interface.

2. Teachers can create writing prompts with attached digital images and post those prompts for their students.

3. Students log in and respond to prompts online using an embedded word processor.

4. Teachers can guide the writing process by attaching comments to a student’s work. Only the student author can see teacher comments. Teachers can also evaluate student writing against the 6+1 Writing Traits rubric.

5. We’ve recently added a provision for teachers to use to establish “buddy links” between students in their own classes or in any cooperating class that is using the Digital XPress. Buddies can see each other’s work and make comments via a discussion thread that is attached to individual written works.

6. The system was originally designed for elementary students, and most of our participating classes are elementary classes, but we also have several more advanced classes using it.

7. We’re currently making plans to expand the system with specific tools and templates to support writing in science classes. We’d love to get input from interested science teachers to help shape what we do.

The Digital XPress site can be found at www.mydigitalxpress.com. That’s where you’ll also find the link to request an account.

More information about the ongoing work we’re doing with South Carolina schools who have been part of the grant project can be found at blog.mydigitalxpress.com.

Finally, let me repeat, this isn’t a commercial product, but a home-grown system. We’re pleased to share it, we think that many of you will find it useful and appealing; and we’re really proud of it. We’d like to get more teachers and students using and giving us feedback on how we can make it better.

If you have specific questions about the system or its use, feel free to post them here or contact Anna Baldwin, project director, at baldwi2@clemson. edu.


Tags: ELA, digital images, writing

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