As Knowledge Ambassador & Client Support for EssayJack it’s not unusual for me to be out there on school and university campuses walking educators and students through our smart writing software, EssayJack, and answering all sorts of questions on what our web-based app can and can’t do.
However, there was one particular day when, after demo-ing our platform to a university lecturer and her students from an English for Academic Purposes course, that I came across what I thought was an unusual question, because it was the first time I had been asked it: “Can EssayJack teach higher order thinking skills?”.
I thought about it for a second and my response was: Yes and no. Let me share why I said that. With edtech offerings growing, there’s great excitement around technology’s ability to aid ailing education systems and pressed-for-time educators in classrooms, and rightly so, but it should be seen as just that - an aid. Edtech is not the silver bullet in education nor is it a replacement for teachers. The role of an educator still remains that of teacher, more so now of a facilitator, with edtech as a supporting tool or almost a classroom assistant.
So, no, EssayJack can’t on it’s own “teach” higher order thinking skills, but yes it can if the assignment set by the teacher is compelling and inspiring enough, EssayJack can definitely assist and guide students through a writing task to encourage higher order thinking skills. In fact, learning how to write in a structured cohesive and coherent manner has always been a hallmark of critical thinking.
Below are 3 ways that you, as an educator, can make the most out of this particular edtech platform to elicit creative and analytical responses from students.
1. Use it as a Teaching Tool
EssayJack is flexible enough to double as a teaching and learning tool. If you’re teaching writing it is a great tool to model writing in real-time and teach essay-writing section by section. Since each section can be turned “on and off” and as an educator can focus a class on teaching the best ways to write an introduction, for example. With students immediately able to log in to their accounts and attempt writing a good introduction through the chunking and scaffolding methods offered in each template along with tips and prompts.
In EssayJack, every point a student raises to support their thesis statement has to be followed by an explanation which presents an opportunity for you to ask the right questions to test students' thinking skills and their ability to reason.
2. Use it as a Custom Learning Tool
The customizable nature of EssayJack’s templates is one of the features of EssayJack that educators like the most. It allows them to create the exact writing templates needed for a writing task or tweak the templates to reflect examples, you as educators, are likely to use in class. This provides you with an opportunity to slip in stimuli for moments of reflection and critical thinking. It’s also a chance to add in a video (perhaps a recording of the lesson itself!), audio or attachment to ensure that your student has all that he or she needs when trying to complete a writing task from school, home or anywhere else. This allows you to guide their writing even while you’re not around, are busy with another task or are simply teaching another subject matter other than writing or English but require students to prepare written assignments.
3. Use it as a Peer Review Tool
Peer review can be a powerful exercise that many educators leverage on for feedback on students' work, but it also seeks to strengthen the analytical muscle in students. EssayJack provides an avenue to share Essays with the entire class or individuals for review. Rather than seeing a mess of marks and scribbles on a piece of paper or on a work document, the essayist can then view all the feedback neatly compiled in a side panel on their screen. While this streamlines the complications of setting a peer review activity, EssayJack also goes a step further to ensure students can again, formulate their formative feedback and comments in a thoughtful and meaningful way by providing a rubric to guide the reviewer.
So, yes and no. EssayJack can only teach higher order thinking skills to a certain degree on it's own, but it can definitely do so more effectively in the hands of you the educator.
But as with any edtech out there, the best way to know if it will fit your needs is to give it a try. You can start by watching our Overview video, but then you might as well just sign up for a free trial!
EssayJack is an interactive web platform with a patented solution that pre-structures student essays, reduces writing anxiety, and allows educator customization and feedback. Ranked as one of the top English Language teaching digital innovations in the world by the British Council and Cambridge English, EssayJack was created by award-winning educators and can be customized for almost any writing task.