Since students in my course are choosing their own projects, every student is on a different schedule at this point. Some are working toward the midterm. Some are working on the Genre Analysis Report. Some are working on open projects. Because they are all working at their own pace, it’s not possible to set up peer review activities for the projects. There’s no way to guess who will have a draft ready when.
From this point on, then, I have asked students to work in online writing groups to share whatever they have and provide accountability for one another. To keep these groups organized, I set up a general schedule with expectations for each student to post several times in the course forums each week. In face-to-face classes, I ask students to create their own guidelines and schedules, but my experience with these online students is that they need more definite structures. Without spaced-out expectations to post and return to reply, they frequently wait too long to engage in conversations with their classmates.
I set up the schedule below, but I did indicate that groups can adjust this schedule as necessary:
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Here are some things you might share with one by Wednesday in your weekly discussion:
- Status/progress reports on what you are doing/have done since last Wednesday.
(Check Markel, Practical Strategies for Technical Communication, Chapter 12 for help with status and progress reports. Your updates can be informal.)
- Rough drafts of your projects.
- Revisions of your projects.
- Small chunks of your projects, if you want feedback on something very specific.
- Success stories.
- Challenges you encounter.
- Questions that you have about your projects.
After sharing, you can reply by Friday with any of the following:
- Provide supportive feedback and advice, like that shown in the No One Writes Alone video.
- Work together to solve any challenges or answer any questions.
- Collaborate on projects (be sure to credit your helpers if someone provides significant input).
- Plan for future discussions.
This week will be our first time to try out the writing groups. I'm excited about the possibilities for these groups. It's a strategy that I am looking forward to developing and using again next term. I will report on how it works. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. I can always use advice.