I-OWL: Building an Interactive Writing Tool to Support 11th and 12th Graders

Educational professionals have enacted initiatives to help high school students improve writing skills critical to success in higher education. In recent years university scholars and high school teachers have invested significant time and resources to better prepare students for college level writing.

Working in collaboration with the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) and Purdue University, MSAN is engaged in a two year project to develop, field test, and scale an interactive on-line learning environment. The goal of this writing tool is to increase high school students’ motivation to engage with writing tasks, scaffold their transition to the more formal composing required for conventional academic writing, and prepare them to create complex immersive texts as required by the Common Core writing standards.

Using new media technologies, the design team has created TOWN - the Teen On-Line Writing Network. TOWN will assist high school students in three areas: a) improving specific writing strategies, b) transferring writing skills to assignments across three academic disciplines - science, social studies and language arts, and c) assessing their skills in relation to college level writing.

TOWN is unique as it is specifically geared to adolescents’ interests and media expertise and will address their frustration and reluctance in learning to write. The TOWN website is under construction during development but will be available for public access in the fall of 2012.

Project Partners

Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)
Purdue University’s On-Line Writing Lab (OWL)


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Project Website



Completed on December 15, 2012