Building a Writing Space: an architectural writing app (HomeR)

IT Innovation ChallengesStaff project based in the Faculty of Englsh

Autumn 2015 round

See also Building a Writing App (blog post)

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We propose an interactive web based writing app (currently entitled HomeR) for sixth form and university students built within an architectural space. This web based writing app will help writers plan and structure writing (and thinking) following the design and principles of architectural models. Order and sequence are the crucial components of a successful written argument as they are for an effective living space. Users will build up a writing structure from a series of small discrete units using room spaces and storage spaces. Building from the ground up, over three floors, students and writers will gain confidence in the process of generating formal writing through three key modes of use.

Users of this app will build and design their own tour around a house as a method of organising a structured piece of writing. The idea is to simulate a sequence of logical steps from room to room,  space to space, reflecting the process of constructing and moving around a critical argument.  Architectural spaces will thus enable students to practise organising essential units of language and thought in ways that offer more coherency, fluid movement and critical dimension. The app will not only enhance critical writing but also help create coherent critical thinking. The first mode of identified use (the first floor of the writing house) will be a space for sorting and filtering key material as a means of practising critical methods and material selection.

Central to this design is the notion of a sealed and secure space where one discrete unit of writing can be confidently completed without distraction from other parts.  The development of writing morale is thus a crucial element of the design. Users will enter into a virtual environment they will be led around by prompts  such as objects, furniture, and writing tools and stationary and, if they choose, short annotated examples of good critical and narrative writing. This environment will serve as an interactive model of a writer’s studio.

Through a series of exploratory workshops with teachers, sixth formers and undergraduates, we will design the most suitable design and structure for specific user requirements. We shall also build up a rich and variable source of writing samples for use with the app which may include samples from students as well as established writers.

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