Cow-website The Alberta business and innovation community gathered at the Edmonton Shaw Conference Centre on April 29, 2015, to celebrate the most promising technology startup companies competing in the 13th annual TEC VenturePrize business plan competition. The Edmonton Journal’s People’s Choice Award went to Alieo Games an educational technology company that recently launched COW (Creative Online Writing), an online writing app for students and teachers in K-12.

According to the application developer’s website, the COW interactive website was designed to better answer the question:

How are teachers using technology to help students become better writers?

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and the National Writing Project quoted by the application’s developers, technology is used to teach writing by the use of wikis, websites, blogs, interactive whiteboards and various tools to help students edit their own work and review the work of others.

Missing from this list, they point out, are a number of key elements for effective writing instructional programs. They suggest that the use of technology in writing instruction should also address:

  1. how to motivate students to become engaged in the writing process.
  2. how to develop the all-important skill of writing fluency (i.e. the ease with which a writer is able to generate ideas and put them into words.)
  3. how to develop original ideas and think critically.
  4. how to give students feedback on their writing so that they can become self-regulating learners.
  5. how to cater writing assignments to individual needs.

According to COW’s the developers, these five elements have been key in the development of their online creative writing app. COW answers the question by providing educators with a practical and effective tool that enhances writing programs and combines the best use of technology.

For Writers

COW is a writing game that engages a diverse range of learners. Through playing COW, students will improve their writing fluency, be challenged to stretch their creativity, and be guided to use more complex vocabulary. Students can also share their writing with a broader audience of peers.

For Teachers

COW is designed to be a practical tool for teachers to use within their writing programs. Teachers can use the advanced text analysis tools of COW to target instruction to specific areas of student need. COW can be a valuable asset for any school in meeting their curriculum goals in writing.

For Parents

Your child can continue to play COW from home during the evenings, weekends, or over holidays.

Their website promises that coming soon, parents will be able to follow their child’s progress and read all their writing.

You can test drive the application for free at: Licenses cost $99 per year for teachers and a block of 30 students.

The Alieo Games team, made up from computing science PhDs who specialize in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence at the U of A, also won 1st prize in the AVCatalyst business plan competition ($10,000).