Edwin Gould Foundation Supporter Online Tool Quill Connect Helps Students Become Better Writers
Just like the students Quill.org aims to help, the writing assistant’s algorithms get smarter the more they practice.
The nonprofit’s Quill Connect tool, designed to improve students’ writing skills through online exercises, uses machine learning to help them create better sentences. As Quill Connect gains more data, its algorithms morph and improve, says Peter Gault, Quill’s executive director — enabling it to address the big issues of sentence fragments and run-ons.
Gault calls joining ideas together to form strong sentences a building block of language and writing. “For teachers, it was such a big challenge to implement this type of instruction,” he says. “It is so time-intensive. It was always a challenge to have time to give feedback.”
But online tools weren’t always the best answer, since combining thoughts and sentences can yield thousands of correct results. So Quill built out a series of algorithms that can distinguish strong sentences from weak ones.That is where machine learning comes in.
The algorithm looks at common patterns and criteria for strong and weak sentences, Gault says, and is now able to detect sentence fragments at 84 percent accuracy. While not perfect, that mark is a vast improvement over the 30 percent accuracy of Microsoft Word and the 5 percent accuracy of Google Docs, he says...