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Applying what we learned in MultiMOOC in EVO 2013 to Writingmatrix

February 22, 2013

A few years ago, Vance Stevens coordinated Nelba Quintana and Rita Zeinstejer in Argentina, Doris Molero in Venezuela, and Sasa Sirk in Slovenia in a global project to put student writers in touch with each other through blogging, by tagging their posts ‘writingmatrix’.  At the time, the students were able to locate each other’s blogs by using Technorati.  This was surprisingly effective at the time; however Technorati has since tightened what its searches will return in order to reduce clutter for whom it perceives are the most important users of its services (not casual educators). Therefore Technorati no longer works well for this purpose, but those involved in the project found results at the time to be highly satisfactory. Those involved produced numerous online artifacts, including presentations and scholarly articles, many of which are linked from our Writingmatrix project portal at: Some of the most illustrative artifacts include:

  • Stevens, Vance. (2009 July 15). Engaging Collaborative Writing through Social Networking. In Koyama, Toshiko; Noguchi, Judy; Yoshinari,Yuichiro; and Iwasaki, Akio (Eds.). Proceedings of the WorldCALL 2008 Conference. The Japan Association for Language Education and Technology (LET). ISBN: 978-4-9904807-0-7,, pp.68-71.
  • Stevens, Vance, Nelba Quintana, Rita Zeinstejer, Saša Sirk, Doris Molero & Carla Arena. (2008). Writingmatrix: Connecting Students with Blogs, Tags, and Social Networking. In Stevens, Vance & Elizabeth Hanson-Smith, Co-editors. (2008). Special Feature: Proceedings of the Webheads in Action Online Convergence, 2007. TESL-EJ, Volume 11, Number 4:
  • A delightful 5 min. trailer for our presentation at the K-12 Online Conference in 2007:

Meanwhile, one of the serendipitous outcomes of conducting the recently ended EVO MultiMOOC session was a greater understanding of how works. The results of these experiments were reported at these URLs (which will be broken when Posterous shuts down at the end of April 2013, but which will hopefully be ported elsewhere):

After we discovered that can be configured to publish results when they are tweeted with a #hashtag (such as #mmooc13 in the examples given above), it (slap forehead!) dawned on me that could replace Technorati in a revival of the Writingmatrix project.  All we would need to do would be to encourage our colleagues and their students to blog creative writing, tag it ‘writingmatrix’, and then tweet what they had done using the #writingmatrix hashtag.

So I set up a for this purpose:  I configured it to publish daily for the time being so that we can test it and see results within a day of their posting (with aggregations going to press each day at around midnight GMT). Furthermore, I  have found configuration options with that look like this:

So to be on the safe side, according to what we know about, if someone makes a post in a blog, tweets about that post, and tags the tweet  #writingmatrix, seems pretty reliable about publishing that in the next edition of, with the caveat that it must be a direct tweet ( doesn’t post secondary tweets, where you post to for example, and then tick that you want that shared on Twitter – even if you #tag that tweet, it does not appear to be picked up in if the link is to a URL containing

According to the configuration in the screenshot above, posts should appear in our if the blog post is tagged ‘writingmatrix’ (or anything that generates an RSS feed with that tag, though this remains to be tested).  Also we should see results if mention is made of writingmatrix in Twitter, Facebook or in Google+.  I’ll make posts in these places and see if I can get them to appear in the writingmatrix, and you are welcome to try as well.

Eventually we might want to encourage our students to do this.  The original idea suggests that teachers invite student writers from all over the world to post their creative writing online and then tag and tweet it in such a way that writers in other parts of the globe can find it and contribute their own, and hopefully young students might then comment on each other’s writing, and be encouraged to write for a wider audience than one restricted to the vicinity of the classroom.

Here is where you come in.  You are invited to join the experiment.  You are invited to test the system by 
  • making blog posts and tagging them ‘writingmatrix’
  • tweeting those posts with the hashtag #writingmatrix
  • tweeting a variety of other artifacts online with the hashtag #writingmatrix to help us see what will acknowledge as a valid candidate for publication
  • posting to facebook content containing the word ‘writingmatrix’
  • posting to Google+ content containing the word ‘writingmatrix’
  • encouraging your students and colleagues to do any of the above
We’ll check back after a few days and see what has come up with (note that you can pull down “archives” to see the results from each day).  We’ll analyze the outcome in a follow-up blog post later.

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