CIRCA:Panel Proposal of GWrit


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Panel Proposal

Jinman Zhang

University of Alberta

Panel Organization

Introduction to GWrit

Demonstration of GWrit. Mark McKellar

Gamification elements used in GWrit. Geoffrey Rockwell

GWrit Networking and Co-Dependence in Learning. Grady Zielke

Usability evaluation of GWrit using cognitive walkthrough and heuristic approaches. Jinman Zhang, Grady Zielke

Task Structure in GWrit: User resistance to a new interface, R. Graves, H. Graves, D. Harvey, M. Farnel, S. Mogghaddasi, T. Scanlon

A study on user information of GWrit based on Google Analytics. Jinman Zhang

Panel Description

Everything below line is actual abstract

Panel Abstract

The Game of Writing (GWrit) is an online writing platform used in classes at Alberta for two years. To build an improved version, which could be used in a larger size of user group, and user could create tasks by themselve, we modified the system from several perspectives, including redesigning the website after a series evaluation, adding gamification elements, embedding text analytics tools.

This panel includes seven parts. Firstly, we will made a brief introduction of GWrit. In the second part, we made a demonstration of the open version of GWrit, and focused on the system architecture and the instruction of use. Thirdly, the gamification elements used in GWrit was introduced. The third part is an exploration of the role that networking and co-dependance plays in online learning. As a learning community, requiring comment on other’s work and using gamification methods are two approaches calling for participation of GWrit. This part identified the types of online practices that correlate with academic success, and provided insight into how to foster participation in the GWrit community. The fifth part is a detailed introduction of the evaluation process of GWrit by using Cognitive Walkthrough and Heuristics approaches. In the sixth part, we examined the interactive ways of the task structure on students’ learning. Through analyzing the statistic results, we discussed the role that task completion structure played in the motivation of learning, and speculate the reason account for students’ not following the task completion structure embedded in the course structure. At last, we made a report based on the statistics on Google analytics. This report provides insight into further study on the usage of GWrit.

M. McKellar first demonstrates the GWrit, with showing the detailed information about the implementation of the improved system. G.Rockwell discusses the gamification elements used in GWrit. G. Zielke did study on the role that social network and co-dependence play in the learning environment provided by GWrit. J.Zhang and G. Zielke did evaluation on GWrit using Cognitive Walkthrough and Heuristic methods, and the process and the result of the evaluation was demonstrated in this part. R. Graves, H. Graves, D. Harvey, M. Farnel, S. Mogghaddasi, T. Scanlon described how students in a large class interacted with the task structure of assignments within the GWrit system. J. Zhang provide a report of the usage of Gwrit based on the statistic on Google analytics.

Introduction to GWrit

The Game of Writing(GWrit) has been developed at the University of Alberta over the past two years and been used in over four classes. Over this period we have been able to refine GWrit by seeing what works well, what does not, and what issues we have.

One of the more complicated issues occurred when the class size became very large. When these class sizes grew larger than a hundred students, we experienced a significant strain on the system. By analyzing where these stresses were coming from, we were able to modify the system to handle class sizes in the thousands.

Another issue was: how do we engage students? what will motivate them to work beyond simply completing the task? A few methods have been employed to help improve student engagement. First is a locking system; assignments can be assigned a minimum number of comments before they can be submitted, forcing the student to be actively critique other students work in order to get them interested in their own. A rewards system was also created allowing students to earn badges and points by completely tasks in certain ways. Earning these badges improved their overall score making them appear higher several different leaderboards.

GWrit Demonstration

Author: Mark McKellar


GWrit is a web based application in which users are able to log into a single website allowing them to complete assignments, provide feedback to others, and earn rewards. It has been designed as a portable system which can be accessed by the most common browsers and devices. At it’s core GWrit consists of two main workflows: the instructor side and the student side.

The instructor side is more administrative based and has very few gamification elements. Here users have the ability to create courses, assign different user roles within the course(instructor, TA, or student), and create tasks. Using the task creator, instructors will be able to fine tune each detail of an assignment; this includes: what work needs to be created, what work can be reviewed, how many comments an assignment must receive, and any rewards that can be earned.

On the student side we can see the implementation of gamification. Users have the ability to to earn both points and badges. Earning these rewards will allow top users to appear on leaderboards; this adds a competitive element within the course. Users are also shown their progress in the course; they can see a gauge showing how much of the course has been completed, along with their status on each assignment.

Our demonstration will include: How instructors create courses, attach rewards to assignments, and evaluate submissions. How users check-out assignments, comment on other users work, receive reward, and track their own progress. The system architecture and how it’s been implemented.

Going forward we wish to reach beyond the classroom with an open writing system; an environment where all users can create tasks and challenge their peers.

Gamification elements used in GWrit

Author: Geoffrey Rockwell


GWrit Networking and Co-Dependence in Learning

Author: Grady Zielke


A major difference between GWrit and a more traditional writing classroom is that GWrit uses a student social network to teach students writing by engaging them with other students’ work, and allows for the instruction of significantly larger classes than more traditional methods. By making it a requirement to read and comment on other students’ pieces, and allowing for a review period between the initial draft which must be submitted to the course and the final submission, the course pushes the users of GWrit to engage more with both their own work and the work of their peers. Gamification methods are also used to give students a feeling of choice and accomplishment within the course, and to further encourage students to engage with the larger community of the writing class. This writing community is of central importance to the success of the class, and of the GWrit program in general. The social network created by GWrit is invaluable to teaching the of the course itself. By looking at the statistics on commenting within the course and comparing it to the grades of the commenters, this paper will identify the types of online practices that correlate with academic success, and in doing so, understand the ways in which GWrit is most successfully used to teach writing and revision. This analysis will provide more insight into how to best foster participation within the GWrit community, as well as showing the most valuable types of online actions in terms of how much they affect a student's grade.

Usability evaluation of GWrit using cognitive walkthrough and heuristic approaches

Jinman Zhang, Grady Zielke


Gwrit, the Game of Writing project has developed an online writing environment used in class. This environment allows users to write online and use some analysis tools during their writing. Gamification is also an interesting feature of GWrit, which make tedious writing task as an interesting game. We are going to develop an open version of GWrit, which would be widely spread not only in university. To build the open version of GWrit, we first need to evaluate the usability of the system. The methods we use for usability evaluation are cognitive walkthrough and heuristics evaluation.

Cognitive walkthrough (CW) is a method used to evaluate the usability by predicting how a user will understand an interaction in the design stage. We first use CW method to focus on how easy the system is to learn. We have expert on usability and researchers to take participate in the CW. By walking through a list of representative tasks, we identify a number of potential problems of the system.

The second approach we use is heuristic evaluation. It is a usability engineering method for finding the usability problems in a user interface design so that they can be attended to as part of an iterative design process (Jakob Nielsen). This research employ the heuristic evaluation method to go through the interface of the GWrit website, and by performing various tasks, we identify some usability issues that need to be fixed.

The evaluation results provide description regarding the problems found on GWrit, and the identified usability problems will be resolved by designing improved version in future. In this paper, we first introduce the two evaluation approaches. Then we demonstrate the detail process of usability evaluation on Gwrit. Next, the evaluation results are showed. At last, we draw a conclusion and discuss some limitations of this study.

Task Structure in GWrit: User resistance to a new interface

R. Graves, H. Graves, D. Harvey, M. Farnel, S. Mogghaddasi, T. Scanlon


In this paper we will describe how students in a large class (over 175 students) interacted with the task structure of assignments within the GWrit system. The GWrit interface requires instructors to create assignments from a standard template. As part of this template, instructors can assign sub-tasks to the main, overall writing assignment. In the writing course described in this study, the instructor created 14 assignments with between 1-5 sub-tasks for each assignment. The majority of assignments prompted students to do three or more tasks in the process of creating the final writing assignment that would be graded. The “percent completed” feedback meter that is present on the home page of each student registered how many of these tasks had been completed by the student. However, students were unaware that the completion of each task was what moved the meter towards completion. In this study we will present statistics on how many tasks students completed without knowing that completed tasks moved the completion meter. We will also present statistics from a subsequent iteration of the course in which students were informed about how the meter worked. We compare these results and speculate about reasons that account for the students’ not following the task completion structure embedded in the course structure.

A study on user information of GWrit based on Google Analytics

Jinman Zhang


To make GWrit become an user-friendly and useful online writing platform, user information should analyzed first. User information here includes not only the basic demographic information, more importantly, the user behaviour information was recorded and analyzed.

Google analytics is a widely used web analytics service on the Internet. It has advanced features for tracking queries and event. Thus, the data collected by Google Analytics is quite helpful to track and understand user behaviors. By examining the usage of components in the websites and analyzing user behaviours, user experience will be improved. The report also provides some foundational information for further and deeper research on GWrit.

In this paper, we first make a brief introduction of Google analytics. Then we introduce some basic user information on GWrit. The core part of this paper is the analysis of user behaviour. In this part, we draw two different trajectories based on the data on Google Analytics to view the usage of GWrit. The first one is trajectory when there is no task due. The second one is trajectory in a task due date. Also, some key user actions are also analyzed to view their relationship with task due date.

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