Canadian Institute for Reseach Computing in the Arts

You and whose army? Game of Writing used to teach academic writing

Posted on | July 30, 2014 | Comments Off on You and whose army? Game of Writing used to teach academic writing


The Game of Writing is being used for the first time in a writing course WRS 102 Writing in the Disciplines. This course is the first test of the online gamified writing environment that started as a GRAND prototype research project but not the last – we expect 200 students to enroll in the fall 2014 class.

The Game of Writing, or GwRIT (account needed), is an online writing environment that can be used in a writing course to support student writing development. An interdisciplinary team at the University of Alberta have built GwRIT so that it can be a platform for representing information about a user’s writing back to them through analytics or gamification components. Our working hypothesis is that gamification and analytics can be playful ways of representing real information back to users so that they can make decisions and possibly be motivated to write differently. GwRIT combines composing tools (word processing), reviewing opportunities (commenting), research guidance (resources), models for writing (sample documents), and advice about writing (from a variety of sources) through the GwRIT interface. 

But what sets GwRIT apart from other online learning systems is its focus on student writing in a social network. Innovative aspects of this course include students’ sharing their progress on the assignments with peers and the instructional staff; the ability for all students to see who is working on the same assignments; and the ability to ask for help or advice from those other students. In addition, feedback and informal assessment is available online from peers in the class; from paid peer tutors; from GTAs; and (eventually) from alumni. Commenting in GwRIT takes advantage of social networking practices by allowing students and instructors to give a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” in response to comments. Instructors can also “pin” a comment to the top of the comments list, which appears in a window alongside the word processing window. Students learn what makes for a good comment by reviewing comments that get both a “thumbs up” from the writer of the text and also gets “pinned” by an instructor to the top of the comments list. By writing in this social network and learning from analytics derived from their writing, we have created an innovative and exciting approach to improving student writing.

GwRIT started as a prototype developed with GRAND support by investigator Geoffrey Rockwell. GwRIT was then redeveloped for use in writing courses in partnership with Roger Graves and Heather Graves of the University of Alberta’s Writing Across the Curriculum Initiative. The development was supported by the Faculty of Arts, the Centre for Teaching and Learning and University of Alberta Blended Learning Award. With the first blended course run with GwRIT we now have a platform for the innovative teaching of writing.

A short paper on Gamification, Research and Writing was presented at “Building partnerships to transform scholarly publishing”, Whistler, BC, February, 2014.

Understanding Video Games

Posted on | July 28, 2014 | Comments Off on Understanding Video Games

The University of Alberta today launches its second MOOC, Understanding Video Games. This MOOC is a thorough overview of theory pertaining to video game media. Participants “learn how to study games and engage in informed discussions about them.”

Understanding Video Games was led by Digital Humanities researcher Sean Gouglas and developed with the help of world renowned video game developer, BioWare Corp, located in Edmonton, Alberta.

DigHum @ DH2014 (Lausanne)

Posted on | July 8, 2014 | Comments Off on DigHum @ DH2014 (Lausanne)

Several researchers involved in DigHum presented papers and posters, along with a workshop and the Zampolli Award Lecture at this year’s meeting of ADHO in Lausanne. You can find the list below and links to their descriptions.

- Brown, Susan (School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph, Canada), Brundin, Michael (Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory, University of Alberta, Canada), Chartrand, James (Open Sky Solutions, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada), Knechtel, Ruth
(Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory, University of Alberta), MacDonald, Andrew (Open Sky Solutions, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada), Rockwell, Geoffrey (Humanities Computing, University of Alberta, Canada), Sellmer, Megan (Humanities Computing, University of Alberta, Canada): “THE CWRC-WRITER BRIDGE: FROM CODER TO WRITER, XML TO RDF, DH TO MAINSTREAM” (

- Brown, Susan (University of Guelph), Adelaar, Nadine (University of Alberta), Dobson, Teresa (University of British Columbia), Knechtel, Ruth (University of Alberta), MacDonald, Andrew (McMaster University), Nelson, Brent (University of Saskatchewan), Peña, Ernesto (University of British Columbia), Radzikowska, Milena (Mount Royal University), Roeder, Geoff G. (University of British Columbia), Ruecker, Stan (IIT Institute of Design), Sinclair, Stéfan (McGill University), Windsor, Jennifer (University of Alberta), and INKE Research Group: “PROBING DIGITAL SCHOLARLY CURATION THROUGH THE DYNAMIC TABLE OF CONTEXTS” (

- Couture, Stéphane (McGill University, Canada), Sinclair, Stéfan (McGill University, Canada): “BEYOND THE TOOL : A REFLEXIVE ANALYSIS ON BUILDING THINGS IN DIGITAL HUMANITIES” (

- Eberle-Sinatra, Michael (Université de Montréal, Canada), Sinclair, Stéfan (McGill University, Canada), Dyens, Olliver (McGill University, Canada), Vitali Rosati, Marcello (Université de Montréal, Canada): “CRÉER UN CENTRE DE RECHERCHE INTERUNIVERSITAIRE SUR LES HUMANITÉS NUMÉRIQUES AU QUÉBEC : DÉFIS ET SUCCÈS” (

- Engel, Maureen (University of Alberta), Zwicker, Heather (University of Alberta), Frizzera, Luciano (University of Alberta), Pedraça, Samia (University of Alberta), Regattieri, Lorena (University of Alberta), Schoenberger, Zachary (University of Alberta), Windsor, Jennifer (University of Alberta): “VISUALIZING HOMELESSNESS” (

- Martin, Kim (University of Western Ontario), Greenspan, Brian (Carleton University), Quan-Haase, Anabel (University of Western Ontario): “STAK – SERENDIPITOUS TOOL FOR AUGMENTING KNOWLEDGE: BRIDGING GAPS BETWEEN DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL RESOURCES” (

- Martin, Kim (University of Western Ontario), Quan-Haase, Anabel (University of Western Ontario): “DESIGNING THE NEXT BIG THING: RANDOMNESS VERSUS SERENDIPITY IN DH TOOLS” (

- Montague, John Joseph (University of Alberta, Canada), Rockwell, Geoffrey (University of Alberta, Canada), Ruecker, Stan (IIT – Institute of Design, USA), Sinclair, Stéfan (McGill University, Canada), Brown, Susan (University of Alberta, Canada), Chartier, Ryan (University of Alberta, Canada), Frizzera, Luciano (University of Alberta, Canada), Simpson, John (University of Alberta, Canada): “SEEING THE TREES & UNDERSTANDING THE FOREST” (

- Siemens, Ray (University of Victoria): “ZAMPOLLI AWARD LECTURE: Communities of Practice, the Methodological Commons, and Digital Self-Determination in the Humanities” (

- Sinclair, Stéfan (McGill University, Canada), Rockwell, Geoffrey (University of Alberta, Canada): “TOWARDS AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF TEXT ANALYSIS TOOLS” (

- Van Zundert, Joris (Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences), Jannidis, Fotis (Würzburg University), Drucker, Johanna (University of California, Los Angeles), Rockwell, Geoffrey (University of Alberta), Underwood, Ted (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Kestemont, Mike (Antwerp University), Andrews, Tara (Bern University): “WHAT IS MODELING AND WHAT IS NOT?” (

- Stéfan Sinclair and Geoffrey Rockwell have a workshop titled “My Very Own Voyant: From Web to Desktop Application” (


Todd Suomela: CLIR/DLF fellow at U of Alberta

Posted on | July 3, 2014 | Comments Off on Todd Suomela: CLIR/DLF fellow at U of Alberta

The GRAND Digital Humanities project welcomes Todd Suomela to the University of Alberta where he will be working on digital initiatives and connecting with GRAND researchers.


Todd Suomela completed his PhD at the University of Tennessee in communication and information science in spring 2014.  His research focused on the framing of citizen science in the media and the organization of communication within citizen science projects.  At the University of Tennessee he worked on the DataONE project, a National Science Foundation DataNet project to integrate data in the environmental and biological sciences.  He is now starting work as a CLIR/DLF fellow in Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Sciences.  He will be working with the Digital Initiatives office at UAlberta libraries and the Humanities Computing Program on a variety of projects connected with data curation, the digital humanities, and web archives.  Although the weather may be different he is looking forward to learning more about the University of Alberta and Canada.  His personal website is at and he can be followed on Twitter @tsuomela.

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