Supporting Student Writing at Scale Using Artificial Intelligence

Concurrent Session 7

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Attend this session to learn how one institution is exploring ways to provide online graduate business students with on-demand writing support at scale using Grammarly, a proofreading and revision tool powered by artificial intelligence.


Ali Blankinship is the Director of Program Management and Instructional Quality for Online Programs at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business at William & Mary. She oversees online program planning, development, management, and instructional quality. She ensures the appropriate training, resources, and supports are in place for instructors to deliver high-quality student learning experiences. In her previous role, Ali was the eLearning Manager at WHRO Education. While there, she oversaw the development of online courses and supervised a team of Instructional Designers and contracted subject matter experts. Prior to WHRO, she worked at William & Mary as an Instructional Designer and at WJCC Public Schools as an Instructional Technology Specialist and High School Social Studies Teacher. Ali has nearly 15 years of experience in the field of education and has collaborated with instructors at all levels, helping them improve their courses and teaching skills in multiple modalities. Ali holds a Ph.D. in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership with a focus in Curriculum and Educational Technology from William & Mary's School of Education. She also holds a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Extended Abstract

Topic Justification:

Online graduate students are often busy working professionals who need flexible “anytime, anywhere” academic support services, such as on-demand writing assistance. In an effort to provide its online graduate students with writing support at scale, the Raymond A. Mason School of Business at William & Mary implemented a one-year trial of Grammarly premium as part of an academic innovation mini-grant funded by the institution’s studio for teaching and learning innovation.

Grammarly is an AI-powered proofreading and revision tool that checks for more than 150 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Grammarly helps students clarify their message, enhances their vocabulary usage, and reminds them to cite their sources. Students can learn how to improve their writing through the feedback provided and decide whether to adopt Grammarly’s suggestions, engaging them in the revision process. Using technologies such as Grammarly is one tactic of the school’s multi-prong strategy to support student writing.

The 2021 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report (Teaching and Learning Edition) lists AI as one of six emerging technologies impacting the future of higher education teaching and learning. AI provides an opportunity to “address standing or current challenges in teaching, learning, and learner success” (Pelletier et al., 2021, p. 13). Testing AI-powered tools like Grammarly to address problems of practice enables educators to explore new approaches to 21st-century teaching and learning.

Session Outline:

In this session, participants will learn about the successes and challenges of the Grammarly mini-grant project described above. The presenter will share the project implementation plan, user data, student and faculty feedback, insights, and next steps as the project comes to a close. Participants will learn about the affordances and constraints of Grammarly and similar academic technologies.

The presenter will engage participants through several polling questions, asking participants to share ways they support student writing at scale. The last 10-15 minutes of the session will be open for conversational Q&A.


Pelletier, K., Brown, M., Brooks, D. C., McCormack, M., Reeves, J., & Arbino, N., with Bozkurt, A., Crawford, S., Czerniewicz, L., Gibson, R., Linder, K., Mason, J., & Mondelli, V. (2021). 2021 EDUCAUSE horizon report, teaching and learning edition. EDUCAUSE.