Proofreading is a constant battle in education that is compounded by today's variety of digital tools that offer what appear to be shortcuts to students (ahem, citation creators!) but in fact are not always correct.
One such tool is Grammarly.com. Grammarly is a web-based grammar checker that can be used on most devices that have internet access. According to it's website, Grammarly offers proofreading, grammar checking, and plagiarism checking. Users can either type directly into Grammarly's web-based word processor or upload a document to it. Grammarly then underlines errors in the text and offers suggestions in the left margin. Users can either ignore or accept the suggestions.
How I tested the tool:
--uploaded previously created documents into the checker
--typed (purposefully) incorrect text into the checker
--pasted segments of text pulled from commonly-used websites like Sparknotes, Shmoop, Wikipedia and Literature Online into the checker
--asked other teachers in SMA's English and Social Science departments to try the tool
--asked two student writers (a freshman and a senior) to try the tool
--downloaded and used the Microsoft Word/Outlook add-in tool
Conclusion: Recommended with reservations:
Grammarly is initially impressive and has the potential to be an extremely useful tool, particularly for students. It is far easier to use than some of the other grammar and plagiarism tools on the market and provides better feedback than the typical word processing spellchecker. In my experience, more and more of my students need extra support in proofreading and mechanics, and this tool can serve that purpose.
However, bear in mind:
1) The plagiarism checker is not sufficient as it currently exists. In my experience, students frequently cut and paste lines from other sources, then change a word or two. Grammarly does not catch this kind of plagiarism, so I would not rely on it as a primary plagiarism checker.
2) Grammarly is not perfect and does not catch every error (and sometimes offers incorrect suggestions.) Students will need training on how best to use the tool without relying on it too heavily.
3) The "score" at the bottom of the screen is misleading and not useful. Students will need to be reminded that a Grammarly score is not a reflection of their actual grade on any assignment, nor should it trump a teacher's evaluation of the assignment.
Welcome to Tech Tools Review!
My role as Instructional Tech Coach often involves testing new tools or equipment for possible use at SMA. It finally occurred to me that sharing my findings might be useful. (I know, right?) Enjoy, and please comment back if you have additional thoughts!