Hate/Love: No Red Ink

LogoNo Red Ink is a newish website trying to fill the fun-grammar-teaching-shaped hole in the Internet.

Hate: Having to register to try out the good stuff inside. The casual user who might get sucked in to a learning game will see the username and password boxes and skinny on out of there. Heck, I almost did. Why not have a bundle of interactive, just-for-fun stuff on the home page and full-functionality inside?

Love: The excellent classroom-supporting elements that registration makes possible. Teachers can customize activities, make quizzes available to specific students or classes, track the progress those students, and probably more that I haven’t discovered yet.

Love: Students being asked to “like” what they like, Facebook-style, before they’re given any problems to sort out. They click links to sports, entertainers, books, and music–they can even enter names of their own friends and pets–and then details about these are incorporated into the sentences they work on. No classroom quiz is ever this personalized. Great idea.

Love: That the problems are solved by dragging and dropping whatever needs changing. Man, is this better than, say, listing several sentences and making the kids guess which one uses the comma correctly! This frames grammar as a positive (Sure, you can figure out how to make this sentence work!) instead of a negative (Mistakes are everywhere–fear them! Avoid them!). And it asks the student to act on a sentence in an almost tactile way.

Love: The request for input about new topics to include. There are only a handful of topics covered now (commas, sentence boundaries, apostrophes, agreement, and commonly confused words, so far), but it’s clear that the creators mean to grow the offerings and care about what teachers will find most useful

Love: The No Red Ink Blog. It’s a simple Tumblr with user submitted photos of errors in public places. (Go add your own if you’ve got a smartphone full of misplaced-apostrophe snaps!) Just enough snark to be amusing, and I can see this being a gratifying way for students to show off their improving editor-eyes.

Love: That the appearance of the site is not cluttered with LSD-inspired Geocities-quality, elementary-school cartoon illustrations. Nope, it’s simple and clean. That is respect for adult learners, right there.

As always, “hate” and “love” are hyperboles. I got no vendettas against the ones, and I ain’t gonna marry the others.

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