Bedford Bibliography of Research in Online Writing Instruction: Principle 2

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OWI Principle 2: An online writing course should focus on writing and not on technology orientation or teaching students how to use learning and other technologies.


Anson, Chris M. “Distant Voices: Teaching Writing in a Culture of Technology.” College English, vol.  61, no. 3, 1999, pp. 261–80.

Anson discusses two ways that “teaching and responding to student writing are pressured by rapidly developing technologies:” 1) “virtual” interaction replacing face-to-face contact in classrooms and 2) the evolution of distance education (at this time, mostly through tele-education) (263). The author investigates the first topic by providing a brief background on how various programs in the 1980s and 1990s used computer-networks to expand writing classrooms and how doing so challenged more traditional notions of “physical and textual spaces” (264). The article proceeds through an overview of how interaction, assignment responses, and other communication are changing due to advancements in educational technology, using a “futuristic” hypothetical example of a student (Jennifer) who navigates the new kind of classroom, one that has, for the most part, come to pass with the increasing advent of new technology. Anson then traces the history of correspondence courses and how new technologies are transforming those classes into “distance education” courses which are more dynamic and robust. The article concludes with a list of questions that those engaged in writing studies should discuss in order to ensure that writing instructors and administrators are using technology in the service of students and the faculty who teach them..

Keywords: distance learning, interaction, correspondence courses, course and program design: English

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15

Bender, Tisha. Discussion-Based Online Teaching to Enhance Student Learning: Theory, Practice and Assessment.  2nd ed., Stylus Publishing, 2003.  

Bender focuses on the theory and practice of using discussions in online classrooms to enhance student learning. Her book is divided into three sections: (1) theory, (2) practical applications, and (3) assessment. In each section, she frames the discussion around online pedagogy and how using discussions can affect teaching and student development. The second edition includes more discussion about the implications of social media and the opportunities for enhanced online classroom discussion that these venues bring to instructors. Her argument centers on switching the conversation from the technical aspects of online learning to the human aspects of online learning, focusing specifically on how students learn and communicate in online class discussions. After finishing her book, instructors will become better facilitators of online classroom discussions and possess more awareness of what they are doing in their online classrooms and take time to be thoughtful about what the digital age means for both students and instructors.

Keywords: discussion: English, assessment, pedagogy: English, teaching with technology: English, social media

OWI Principles: 2, 11

Bennett, Michael, and Kathleen Walsh. “Desperately Seeking Diversity: Going Online to Achieve a Racially Balanced Classroom.” Computers and Composition, vol. 14, no. 2, 2007, pp. 217–27.

Bennett and Walsh describe a joint online discussion forum that linked Bennett’s Brooklyn-based, mostly African American, African American literature class with Walsh’s Bend, Oregon-based, mostly white African American literature class. Their article “explore[s] some of the possible uses of educational technology in creating multicultural networked classrooms” (218). After reviewing sources regarding cultural diversity in the classroom, the authors demonstrate how they designed their courses in order to allow for some joint discussions. They decided that a MOO would be too complex for the learners to master, so they set up an email list and asked students to answer four of six questions and share their answers via email. The article provides a description of the ways in which each set of students navigated through their preconceived notions of the other group. Bennett and Walsh end with recommendations of how they would improve the project to further “unravel. . . the ideological fabric of [cultural] divisions” (226).

Keywords: discussion: English, African American, literature, culturally responsive pedagogy, course and program design: English

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 11


Bjork, Olin, and John Pedro Schwartz. “Writing in the Wild: A Paradigm for Mobile Composition.” Going Wireless: A Critical Exploration of Wireless and Mobile Technologies for Composition Teachers and Researchers, edited by Amy C. Kimme Hea, Hampton Press, 2009, pp. 223-27.

Bjork and Schwartz suggest a pedagogical approach for teaching composition that requires instructors to meet students in the media in which they are already composing. Since most students use mobile technology and often conduct most of their research via the Internet, the authors “propose a paradigm for mobile composition in which students visit places of rhetorical activity (e.g., city parks, waiting rooms, shopping malls) and research, write, and (ideally) publish on location” so they can understand “the relationship between discourse and place. (224)”  In doing so, it can establish a connection between students and place, thus making them aware of social and cultural contexts if they write from within them. Ultimately, they urge composition instructors to “relocate composition in the field,” and offer examples of pedagogical strategies for doing so.  

Keywords: mobile technology, pedagogy: English, composition

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4

Blair, Kristine. “Course Management Tools as ‘Gated Communities’: Expanding the Potential of Distance Learning Spaces Through Multimodal Tools.” Focus on Distance Education Developments, edited by Edward P. Bailey, Nova Science Publishers, 2007, pp. 441-54.

Blair argues that to attend to multiple learning styles in distance learning courses, teachers must consider alternatives to course management systems that “privilege” text-based pedagogy.  She asserts that “over-reliance on course management systems as part of the ‘rhetoric’ of convenience” can stifle “the democratic potential of online learning,” and thus suggests how other digital modes such as video games, text messaging, or MP3 players, are more suited to learning processes and literacies in the digital age. In order to increase educational access, teachers must become familiar with different technologies and platforms to deploy in distance learning classrooms.  Teacher training, technological support, and access to tools can help motivate instructors to do so. Online faculty seeking to optimize collaboration and learning in their classrooms can find advice on seeking out alternatives to the LMS in order to create more democratic classrooms.

Keywords: literacy, learning styles, distance learning, pedagogy: English, course management systems, teaching with technology: English

OWI Principles: 1, 2

Blair, Kristine L., and Elizabeth A. Monske. “Cui Bono?: Revisiting the Promises and Perils of Online Learning.” Computers and Composition, vol. 20, no. 4, 2003, pp. 441-53. 20th Anniversary Special Issue, Part 1. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2003.08.016.

Blair and Monske ask the question “Who benefits?” from the technologies of teaching and learning. Their article reviews fifteen years of discussions surrounding distance education. They begin with the early promises of asynchronous networks and computer-networked classrooms, most of which promised to empower student writers. The field of writing studies then shifted as scholars found that “the egalitarianism narrative was replaced with more specific questions related to agency, identity politics, and the theoretical and practical rejection of predictions for blanket empowerment of all students in electronic environments” (445). As online courses became more commercialized, the narratives shifted to ones of economy based on assumptions about the ease of online classes and the demand on instructors to be continuously present. These new demands on online instructors highlighted problems with hiring, promotion and tenure processes. Blair and Monske end with a call for continued attention to the question of who benefits, cautioning that we “must continue to address equally the needs of students and instructors, questioning the extent to which current rhetorics of distance education (stressing access, convenience, and immediacy) empowers one group and potentially disenfranchises another” (449). This article provides a comprehensive history of the narratives surrounding distance learning and online writing instruction up until the early 21st century.

Keywords: teaching with technology: English, agency, faculty workload, adjunct,

OWI Principles: 2, 5, 7, 8

Breuch, Lee-Ann Kastman. Virtual Peer Review: Teaching and Learning about Writing in Online Environments. SUNY P, 2004.

Kastman Breuch explores the question of what is gained and what is lost in moving writing instruction online through the concept of peer review. In doing so, she first investigates the definitions of peer review and virtual peer review, indicating that virtual peer review supports that philosophy that pedagogy must drive technology while also establishing virtual peer review as a “remediation” of traditional, face-to-face peer review (borrowing from Jay Bolter’s concept of remediation). Kastman Breuch then demonstrates how virtual peer review, rather than being better or worse than face-to-face peer review, is different but that those differences, primarily in terms of time, space, and interaction, can be seen as either challenges or benefits. Identifying these differences illuminates how “computer technology privileges written communication over oral communication”--or did so in 2004 and before (52). Because computer technology privileges print and the traditional peer review practice focuses on oral communication, Kastman Breuch argues that the tension between the two paradigms identifies virtual peer review as “abnormal discourse” (55). She identifies the ways in which the literature surrounding face-to-face peer review defines that review around oral discourse, and then argues that “virtual peer review does not rely on the distinctions of speech and writing that were so carefully built in terms of traditional peer review” (70). She coins this new way of thinking about virtual peer review in terms of a “literacy of involvement” that “includes actively reading, writing, and interacting in virtual environments” (79). She provides examples of types of virtual peer review to describe how the collaborative activity involves responding to writing, editing of texts, and the negotiation of shared writing tasks. In addition, technology challenges further complicate the virtual peer review. Finally, Kastman Breuch uses various scenarios for virtual peer review to demonstrate how the “goals we have for writing tasks drive our choices and uses of technology” (110). She identifies how peer review can serve a “transitional role” for instructors moving from face-to-face to computer mediated or online classrooms and how virtual peer review is key to evaluating student writing, in forming and sustaining online writing centers, in writing across the curriculum programs and in workplace writing classrooms. Indeed, many of her predictions have come to pass, while her challenge to consider technology in terms of goals to be accomplished is the bedrock for solid online writing course design.

Keywords: peer review, collaboration, online writing centers, computer-mediated communication, remediation, WAC, technical and professional writing, course and program design: English

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 14

Brickman, Bette. “Designing and Teaching Online Composition.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 30, no. 4, 2003, pp. 358-64.

Brickman identifies one method of developing and implementing an online writing course for advanced EFL students. She explains her preparation for online instruction and provides an overview of her course design choices.  Based on her experiences, she encourages faculty to be aware of the difficulty involved with students who are just starting online courses and to make instructions and directions very clear. Faculty should also monitor the tone of e-mail messages, because of the lack of non-verbal cues make short messages appear abrupt to some students. Faculty who are new to distance education should be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time getting started and must account for problems with Internet connections and course-management systems. Nevertheless, Brickman states that with patience and institutional support, online courses can be effective.

Keywords: EFL, e-mail, course and program design: English, course-management systems

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10

Cargile Cook, Kelli. “An Argument for Pedagogy-Driven Online Education.” Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood Publishing, 2005, pp. 49-66.

Cargile Cook’s chapter provides a brief historical perspective of the assumptions behind two methods of online education: technology-driven education and pedagogy-driven education. The former method identifies how many delivery technologies for distance education have privileged an objectivist, delivery-driven method of education. While “pioneering” technical communication instructors identified the disconnections between the affordances of delivery-driven technology and effective teaching practices, migrating on-site teaching practices to online classes proved challenging. Cargile Cook identifies how technologies such as slate and chalk and paper and pencil impacted how teachers structured learning and concludes that looking at the differences in “mundane writing and teaching technologies” (58)  in periods of technological transition will help educators understand the shifts from onsite education to online education as well. The latter method, pedagogy-driven education, Cargile Cook presents as a five-step process for “promot[ing] a good fit between instructors’ values, learning theories, and technologies” (59). The five steps to this process are 1) define course goals and delivery methods; 2) define activities for goal achievement; 3) evaluate assessment opportunities for course goals; 4) choose instructional technologies that support the course’s pedagogical goals, activities, and assessment strategies; and 5) consider student needs in terms of goals, activities and technologies. The chapter concludes that the pedagogy-driven course will help faculty develop online classes that meet the same quality requirements as their on-site courses.  Cargile Cook provides a concrete method of developing online courses that integrate technology to serve writing instruction, not the other way around. The historical overview of writing technologies serves to remind faculty that technology has always been a present, if transparent, factor in writing instruction.

Keywords: teaching with technology: English, pedagogy: English, instructional design, course and program design: English

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4

Cargile Cook, Kelli, and Keith Grant-Davie, editors. Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers. Baywood, 2005.

This edited collection, published at a time when technical communication programs were shifting from using online technologies to putting classes fully online, is a primer for faculty to understand how to create and plan online courses. The volume is organized around four questions: 1) “How do we create and sustain online programs and courses?”;  2) “How do we create interactive, pedagogically sound online courses and classroom communities?”; 3) “How should we monitor and assess the quality of online courses and programs?”; and 4) “How is online education challenging our assumptions?” This collection provides a look at the challenges of building, facilitating, and assessing online courses and is helpful for anyone wishing to reflect on and/or research the history of online writing classes and programs in technical writing but also across the disciplines.

Keywords: course and program design: English, technical and professional writing, instructional design, faculty development, course evaluation, program evaluation: English, online writing programs

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 12, 15

Cargile Cook, Kelli, and Keith Grant-Davie, editors. Online Education 2.0: Evolving, Adapting, and Reinventing Online Technical Communication. Baywood, 2012.

The chapters in this collection were solicited ten years after those for the editors’ previous collection, Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers. Given the changes in online education over this decade, this collection focuses on how online writing instruction has changed, what online instructors have learned, and how online programs are sustained. Chapters are organized into three sections: 1) Evolving Programs and Faculty, 2) Adapting to Changing Student Needs and Abilities, and 3) Reinventing Course Contents and Materials. This collection provides insights into innovative instructional strategies, encourages experimentation with and critical reflection on technologies, and suggests that online instructors’ classrooms will thrive with continued training, mentorship, and practice in these environments.

Keywords: course and program design: English, technical and professional writing, instructional design, faculty development, course evaluation, program evaluation: English, mentorship, online writing programs

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 15

Castek, Jill, and Beach, Richard. “Using Apps to Support Disciplinary Literacy and Science Learning.” Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, vol. 56, no. 7, 2013, pp. 554-64.

This article showcases apps that enhance online learning for students. Castek and Beach discuss technological features of each app in terms of affordances, which they define as literacy practices that help students navigate the course learning goals. They review a variety of affordances embedded in a specific list of apps and explain how these support learning. Groups of apps are evaluated in terms of three literacy practices: 1) collaboration, 2) multimodality, and 3) shared productivity. The authors affirm that innovative uses of apps can support learning and that when exploited, the affordances provided by apps can help to build conceptual understanding of scientific topics. Castek and Beach argue that online learning provides unique supports in terms of apps that specifically connect students to course content.

Keywords: WAC, literacy, apps, mobile technology

OWI Principles: 2, 13

DePew, Kevin Eric. “Composing Identity in Online Instructional Contexts.” Handbook of Research on Computer Mediated Communication, edited by Sigrid Kelsey and Kirk St. Amant, IGI Global, 2008, pp. 207-19.

DePew questions how online instructional situations shape the strategies instructors use to present themselves to their students, especially the ways that they try to establish credibility and their investment in their students’ success. After examining both the exaggerated promises and sobering realities of online identity composition, the author proposes a rhetorical approach to the identity composing process. To support this approach, DePew describes the situations of two courses in which the respective instructors used the available technologies’ affordances to create relatively favorable instructional situations. DePew concludes the emerging trend of online instruction may be an opportunity to rethink the traditional paradigms of education—such as one instructor to one classroom—and consider how the technologies’ affordances can support teaching models that best support students’ learning.

Keywords: instructor interaction

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 10, 11

DePew, Kevin Eric. “Social Media at Academia’s Periphery: Studying Multilingual Developmental Writers’ Facebook Composing Strategies.” Reading Matrix, vol. 11, no. 1, 2011, pp. 54-75,

As a follow-up study to DePew and Miller-Cochran (2009), DePew uses a similar research protocol to learn about the social media composing practices of multilingual students placed in developmental writing classes. DePew explains the complex linguistic capabilities most multilingual students develop when learning more than one language—capabilities ignored by many English speakers who expect near proficient syntactic written products. Moreover, because most writing instructors almost solely focus on language correctness, they overlook the rhetorical sophistication that many of their students already have. To demonstrate the advanced rhetorical strategies these developmental students have developed, DePew reports on three students giving a tour of their Facebook profiles. Like the advanced students in the DePew & Miller-Cochran research, DePew learns that these supposed developmental writers also mostly make deliberate decisions but also make a few decisions based on just trying to create a “cool” outcome. Also, like the previous study, audience is a key factor in the multimodal composing decisions these students make, such as whether to post a picture or not or whether to use Microsoft Word to spell check posts before posting them. DePew concludes that instructors should try to leverage this rhetorical sophistication by helping students transfer these strategies from their social media composing process. As with DePew and Miller-Cochran, this article can help OWI instructors design curricula that leverages the types of online writing that struggling students are familiar with as a way of helping these students see that they already know how to fulfill their audience’s expectations for several writing features.

Keywords: social media, multilingual writers, developmental writing, literacy, education

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 5, 11, 15

DePew, Kevin Eric. “Preparing for the Rhetoricity of OWI.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 439-68.

DePew targets the complexity of Principle 2 of CCCC’s A Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices for OWI, “An online writing course should focus on writing not on technology orientation or teaching students how to use learning and other technologies.” While the second principle discourages writing programs and instructors from teaching technology for the sake of teaching technology, DePew argues that writing courses should be seen as applied rhetoric courses, and as such, instructor and students need to develop an understanding that the digital technologies they use to deliver communication and assignment responses are rhetorical—someone designed them to serve specific social functions. Framing this argument with Selber’s (2004) multiliteracies (i.e., functional literacy, critical literacy, rhetorical literacy), DePew contends that writers are best positioned to use the best available means of persuasion when they understand the influence the programmer’s software design choices has on the texts they compose. Preparing instructors and students to develop this meta-awareness is particularly important for OWI because of the arguments that that instructors and students inherently make to each other (e.g., “The material I am teaching is important” and “I am a good student”) are almost solely mediated through digital technologies; therefore, these lessons have real consequences as these stakeholders prepare to engage real and diverse audience (Principle 1). This chapter has an appendix that illustrates how the principles discussed in the chapters can be put into practice as assignments.

Keywords: accessibility, teaching with technology: English, web design, audience

OWI Principles: 1, 2

DePew, Kevin E., and Heather Lettner-Rust. “Mediating Power: Distance Learning, Classroom Epistemology and the Gaze.” Computers and Composition, vol. 26, no. 3, 2009, pp. 174-89. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2005.12.005.

DePew and Lettner-Rust argue that the interfaces that we use to mediate distance learning shape the power relationship between students and instructors. Using the works of Paulo Freire and Michel Foucault as a theoretical lens, they demonstrate that many interfaces are designed to support what Freire calls a “banking model of learning” by positioning the instructor as the only expert in this instructional situation. Some digital interfaces are designed to facilitate instructors’ dissemination of course content as text and video with little concern for the students’ contribution to the learning process. Additionally, certain interfaces can reveal personal information about students that might influence how instructors evaluate their work; this may be vexing for students marked by physical traits, such as their gender, race, ethnicity, and age. The authors initially examine the interfaces of the face-to-face classroom and the correspondence course and then study simulated classrooms and synchronous video classes. To illustrate each of these interface types, they closely study a writing center’s email tutorials, an instant messaging-based interaction between students, and a studio classroom that send live broadcasts to and receives them from students in remote locations. For the last interface, DePew and Lettner-Rust provide the perspective of both the instructor and the student.  The authors conclude that since the interfaces for online classrooms, like most software designs, are not neutral and support specific ideological positions, administrators and instructors of online writing courses need to interrogate the interfaces they choose for online writing instruction to determine whether the design helps or hinders their own pedagogical and thus ideological goals.

Keywords: critical pedagogy, gender, synchronous interaction, course and program design: English, email, online writing center, race,

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10

Driscoll, Margaret, and John E. Reid, Jr. “Web-Based Training: An Overview of Training Tools for the Technical Writing Industry.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 1, 1999, pp. 73-86.

This article, written in the very dawn of online teaching, outlines four types of “web-based” training centered around the concepts of synchronous vs. asynchronous learning and individual vs. group learning. Driscoll and Reid call these four types of training Web/Computer-Based Training, Web/Electronic Performance Support Systems, Web/Virtual Asynchronous Classrooms, and Web/Virtual Synchronous Classrooms (75-76). The authors then review the benefits and limitations of each type of web-based training in terms of their use of hypertext and hypermedia, their components, their authoring program, and whether there is a need to invest in third-party hardware, software, or skills development (78). This article establishes the early terms and contexts for online and web-based learning and is valuable to researchers who study the history of terms in online teaching and learning as well as online technical communication and writing programs considering what types of online learning are most beneficial for their programs.

Keywords: synchronous interaction, asynchronous interaction, course management systems

OWI Principles: 2, 3

Eaton, Angela. “Students in the Online Technical Communication Classroom.” Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood Publishing, 2005, pp. 31-48.

Eaton analyzes the results from a survey of online students at six institutions (n=37) who answered questions regarding what they liked about online classrooms, what they disliked about online classrooms, and what advice they had for online faculty. Participants reported that they primarily liked that online classes fit their schedule and that they could participate in classes without commuting. The two most disliked qualities of online instruction were the lack of face-to-face interaction with classmates and with faculty. Online students in this survey recommended that faculty understand and respect the amount of time and demands required of students in online courses, be clear about how the course activities were beneficial to their learning, and create consistent deadlines so that online students could easily schedule their assignments in hectic schedules. In addition, online students recommended that faculty “be involved,” by providing feedback regularly and being personable in their written comments. Finally, students suggested that faculty choose technology that serves the course (and not the other way around), be careful with limiting the face-to-face meetings in hybrid courses, and to be aware of how programs are marketed to students to make sure that they meet student expectations of online courses in programs. Based on these comments, Eaton concludes that online programs can best market to and serve online technical communication students by determining if the program can be found in a web search on the first page of search results, using the “word of mouth” technique, and recruiting through professional organizations. Finally, the chapter concludes by recommending that marketing methods focus on selling the benefits of studying at a distance and working classes into busy schedules. The data provided in the student comments to faculty reinforces the need for careful course design around instructor-to-student and student-to-student interaction, an awareness of time constraints for online students, and the clear and intentional use of technology to serve the writing in online classes.

Keywords: student satisfaction, technical and professional writing, marketing, instructor presence, surveys, hybrid, course and program design: English

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 15

Eaton, Angela. “Students in the Online Technical Communication Classroom: The Next Decade.” Online Education 2.0: Evolving, Adapting, and Reinventing Online Technical Communication, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood Publishing, 2013, 133-58.

Eaton replicates and expands her 2002 study on online graduate student experiences and preferences (the results of which were published in the first edition of Online Education). While the number of students taking the second survey increased by 311% (2002, n=37 from six universities, 2010, n=152 from twelve universities), the answers to survey questions regarding students lifestyles and choices for selecting online classes remained largely the same. The bulk of features that were most disliked by students in 2010 were the perception that an online program was not as rigorous as a face-to-face program and a variety of options related to interaction with and feedback from faculty, in addition to technical problems. Advice to faculty most frequently involved recommendations for more (and more clear) communication, a consideration of the workload required in completing online assignments, and having backup plans for when technology does not work. Eaton notes that the bulk of the recommendations could easily be applied to face-to-face classes as well. Online students indicated that they selected an online program over a local program roughly 50% of the time, and students were most likely to have heard about online programs through Web searches and by visiting the programs’ Web sites. Eaton concludes with a call for further research into student experiences in online writing programs, particularly as those programs are rapidly expanding. These studies are valuable because they follow similar populations over a particular time period and correlate with information in the literature about best practices for teaching online.

Keywords: surveys, student perception, graduate students, program evaluation: English, quantitative research, marketing

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 10, 11, 15

Ehmann, Christa, and Beth L. Hewett. “OWI Research Considerations.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 517-46.

Ehmann and Hewett address key issues of research into OWI by considering development of research questions, theoretical frameworks, methods, analytical approaches, and dissemination venues. After a literature review that supports the exigency for OWI research, they discuss the need for qualitative and quantitative research, and they provide an analysis of some methodological research approaches with emphasis on replicable, aggregable, and data-supported (RAD) research. Organizationally, they align their literature review and discussions of various research topics with the OWI Principles and offer a series of research questions that readers can develop into potentially useful projects. OWI Principle 1 regarding access and inclusivity is a primary concern as it is one of the least explored considerations of online literacy instruction. Among the topics they consider for research are online tutoring, automated writing evaluation (AWE), and massive open online courses (MOOCs). This chapter may be especially helpful to those seeking to develop core research projects in OWI.

Keywords: access, automated writing evaluation, MOOCs, qualitative research, quantitative research, research, online writing center

OWI Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 15

Fey, Marion H., and Michael J. Sisson. “Approaching the Information Superhighway: Internet Collaboration Among Future Writing Teachers.” Computers and Composition, vol. 13, no. 1, 1996, pp. 37–47.

Fey and Sisson detail the results of using computer-networked groups for future teachers of writing in order to both expose them to the technologies they would be using in their classrooms and to help them “experience the liberatory effects of collaborative pedagogy in long-distance, computer-mediated writing classes” (37). Sisson was a student in Fey’s class and provides a student’s perspective on the collaborative groups. Students initially met Fey for a face-to-face orientation and then collaborated primarily online. Sisson identifies technology difficulties experienced by various members of the group as well as the content that helped them to develop a close online community from their respective schools. Fey provides a final overview of how these online communities helped student teachers, particularly those in rural areas, to be more connected through the important transition from student to teacher, easing the sometimes difficult transition into the professional world.

Keywords: collaboration, community, faculty development, WAC

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 11, 15

Gibson, Keith and Diane Martinez. “From Divide to Continuum: Rethinking Access in Online Education.” Online Education 2.0: Evolving, Adapting, and Reinventing Online Technical Communication, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood Publishing, 2013, pp. 197-212.


Online education relies heavily on technology to make online courses available to students who typically cannot attend face-to-face classes due to various reasons, including scheduling classes, cost, and distance. While online teachers experiment with new technologies to increase the availability of online learning, Gibson and Martinez suggest that using new, innovative technologies may result in online courses that are equally inaccessible to students as are some face-to-face classes. All online students do not have the same access to high-quality, fast Internet connections. While many online technologies are effective with low-speed Internet access, many pedagogical choices are better-suited for faster, higher-speed Internet connections.  Some student populations have access to the same technologies that a university may provide for the instructor, but not all students will have that same access. Gibson and Martinez propose that the digital divide has become a digital continuum where speed and mobility of online access are impacted by cost, availability, and age of user. These factors can affect digital teaching and learning negatively based upon the type of online access a student has. Accordingly, all pedagogical choices should be made with a diverse student population in mind, considering the digital continuum, focusing first and foremost on pedagogy and later on the best technologies to enact that pedagogy in accessible ways for all students.

Keywords: accessibility, teaching with technology: English, non-traditional students

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3

Gos, Michael W. “Nontraditional Student Access to OWI.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 309-46.

Gos discusses providing increased access and support to non-traditional students, positing that the online classroom can be a positive space for hard-to-reach audiences, including non-traditional, working-class, older students and remote students (rural, urban, military, and incarcerated students). The author first examines where such students can access computers and digital tools before turning focus to the digital divide and how instructors can narrow this gap. Non-traditional students often have limited access to computers or the Internet, and some lack the skills and time needed to succeed in an online writing course. Still others may feel anxious using newer digital technology. When access is available, lower-income students may not have the resources to buy computers that house the up-to-date technologies that OWI may require. Students who have limited access to resources or have to negotiate time restrictions can find participating in discussion boards or writing assignments difficult. Because asynchronous OWI courses often require that students do much of the writing on their own time, limited access to digital tools and the Internet can hinder the non-traditional student who might view the online class as being writing and time intensive. Gos suggests that instructors provide resources students can easily download with narrow bandwidth and create files that can be opened directly in the Learning Management System (LMS). Because access and technology skills may be limited, instructors and institutions should prepare students for the “unique and technological and pedagogical components of OWI” by creating both text and video guides, including short face-to-face course orientations. Overall, Gos suggests that instructors can help non-traditional students succeed in OWI classes by creating resources that cater to various learning styles and accessibility issues as well as guiding them toward university resources such as OWLs, 24/7 computer assistance, libraries, and counseling services.

Keywords: non-traditional students,  pedagogy: English, accessibility, teaching with technology: English, course management systems, student preparation, online writing labs, student success

OWI Principles: 2, 10, 13

Harrington, Susanmarie, et al., editors. The Online Writing Classroom. Hampton Press, 2000.

This collection, edited by Susanmarie Harrington, Michael Day, and Becky Rickly, was published at a point where the “online writing classroom” primarily meant the networked or computer-mediated classroom. Harrington, Rickly, and Day bring together scholars who are working to view the lore of computerized and networked classrooms with “a more critical view” (3). The collection is divided into three parts: 1) Focus on Pedagogy, which “offer[s] a sense of the potentials and pitfalls of the online classroom by providing examples of pedagogical approaches and possible solutions” to problems with computerized and networked classrooms (15); 2) Focus on Community, which brings together chapters discussing successful pedagogies that build participatory community in computer-mediated courses; and 3) Focus on Administration, which focuses on the “behind the scenes” practices of departmental support, faculty preparation, and the material concerns of administering a writing program in computer classrooms. This collection rests on the line between the traditional, face-to-face classroom and the fully-online classroom and provides a rich historical context for how faculty and administrators navigated the move from face-to-face to online classrooms.

Keywords: pedagogy: English, faculty development, teaching with technology: English, community, writing program administration, online writing programs, assessment, networked classrooms, computer-mediated courses

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12

Hawisher, Gail E., and Paul LeBlanc. Re-Imagining Computers and Composition: Teaching and Research in the Virtual Age, Boynton/Cook, 1992.

Hawisher and LeBlanc produce one of the first collections devoted to teaching writing with computers. It was compiled before the Internet age, so there is nothing specifically relating to OWI as we now conceive it, but the second section, titled “Looking Beyond Horizons: Teaching Writing on Networks,” provides interesting perspectives from some of the scholars considering the possibility of using technology to teach writing at a distance. Hugh Burns’ chapter on “Multimedia, Multinetworked Classrooms” is an especially interesting description of his first experience teaching students via network. This is an excellent text for reminding us of some of the expectations and apprehensions of OWI.

Keywords: multimedia, networked classrooms, teaching with technology: English

OWI Principles: 2

Hewett, Beth L. The Online Writing Conference: A Guide for Teachers and Tutors, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015.

In this book, formerly published by Heinemann Boynton/Cook in 2010, Hewett uses empirical research into online writing feedback and student revision to theorize that online writing students need especially clear and deliberate communication from their online instructors—both teachers and tutors. She calls this theory of OWI semantic integrity whereby the instructor is called on to consciously seek fidelity when communicating with students; in other words, the intention of the written message should be clearly delivered in language that helps students interpret the intention of the message. She also calls for instructors to intervene in the students’ writing in order to teach them what they can do in revision that might improve it. She provides a 4-step intervention plan of explaining 1) what the problem is, 2) why it is a problem, 3) how to address it (modeling revision using the student writing), and 4) to do something by working through next steps. Hewett expresses that online writing students may be served best when teachers and tutors use linguistically direct comments that inform students about their writing, direct their next steps in some manner, and elicit information through genuine questions (as opposed to rhetorical questions).  Her research indicates that students may not pay attention to linguistically indirect and conditional comments that suggest students might do something with their writing. She demonstrates how using indirection is inculcated into teachers and tutors through contemporary popular theory and practices and one-to-one tutoring where peer tutors are asked to consider themselves in Socratic positions with student writers.

Keywords: online conferencing, intervention, feedback, linguistically direct, linguistically indirect, semantic integrity, empirical research

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 13, 15


Hewett, Beth L. “Fully Online and Hybrid Writing Instruction.” A Guide to Composition Pedagogies, edited by H. Brooke Hessler et al., 2nd ed., Oxford UP, 2013, pp. 194-211.

In this article, Hewett provides a synopsis of OWI in both hybrid and fully online settings. Beginning with an historical view of literacy education, she considers early distance education and how OWI has caused specific concerns about quality, student learning, and empathetic interpersonal connection particularly. Hewett identifies six building blocks of OWI that, once defined for any institutional setting, can be moved about to form a unique OWI program or online writing course: (1) course setting, (2) pedagogical purpose, (3) digital modality, (4) medium, (5) student audience, and (6) technology availability. She purposefully addresses issues of technology last to demonstrate that despite its changeability, nearly any technology choices can be adapted to the online writing program or course purpose once the other five components are fully identified. She suggests some core resources that have been written with OWI’s earlier history in mind. Further, she considers issues of access, the need for more and better OWLs, and the development of financially compensated or otherwise rewarded training for teachers and tutors to be among the most critical concerns as OWI moves to the future.

Keywords: hybrid, literacy, distance education, pedagogy: English, modality, audience, accessibility, teaching with technology: English, online writing labs, tutoring: English

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14

Hewett, Beth L. Reading to Learn and Writing to Teach: Literacy Strategies for OWI, Bedford/St. Martins, 2015.

In this book, Hewett theorizes that the core literacy practice of reading is at the center of online writing instruction. In an online setting (whether hybrid or fully online, asynchronous or synchronous), much of the teaching and learning occurs through text, which must be read by students. When students are unskilled or weak readers, they may be less successful in online writing courses where their lesson content, primary readings, and teachers’ feedback and instructions typically are presented textually. Even when multimedia instructional tools are used for access or other reasons, reading is necessary for students to interpret teacher feedback to their writing and to then make use of such feedback in their revision. Teachers, too, face literacy issues in online writing courses as they must write content, instructions, and feedback for students using vocabulary and language that even less skilled readers can understand. Such writing differs dramatically from their typical scholarly writing. This book reviews the theory behind literacy challenges for the (new) nontraditional contemporary students whose reading habits are changing with digital technology. It provides specific literacy strategies for students (e.g., relearning such reading skills as metacognition, schema, inference, questioning, finding relevance, visualizing, analysis, and synthesis). It also provides writing strategies to help online writing instructors hone their writing to meet contemporary students’ literacy needs (e.g., using the 4-step intervention plan for feedback); such strategies include guidance for writing instructional text, providing readable feedback online, writing readable assignments, and offering thoughtful, tone-sensitive interpersonal communication.

Keywords: literacy, reading, multimedia, nontraditional student, intervention, feedback, assignment instructions, assignment design, assignment: English

OWI Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 13, 15

Hewett, Beth L. “Grounding Principles of OWI.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 33-92.

Hewett provides the theoretical background that supports the OWI Principles. She explicates each OWI Principle and addresses it within the context of the first principle regarding access and inclusivity. Each OWI Principle is presented in its full text along with the rationale the OWI Committee had originally provided for each principle. Hewett then offers a discussion that provides the committee’s historical research and discussions regarding the principle; its theoretical rationale; its connections to replicable, aggregable, and data-supported (RAD) research; and its general importance to those who study, research, and teach with OWI.

Keywords: accessibility, asynchronous interaction, hybrid, research, synchronous interaction, CCCC OWI Committee

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L. “How Do You Feel? — Attitudes about Tutoring Online.” Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, edited by Sue Mendelsohn and Eliana Schonberg, Feb. 2004,

This article addresses issues that prospective online tutors should consider when preparing to tutor in online settings. Before making a decision, Hewett suggests that tutors determine their attitudes and comfort levels with technology. Although tutors need not be technology experts, the higher their skill levels with simple things like word processing tools, the better they can coach students in ways to change their writing. Hewett also asks tutors to consider their confidence in their abilities to work through a technological problem and their willingness to be uncomfortable while they learn. She also addresses the tutor’s attitudes about the relative values of working with technology for educational purposes. Specifically, Hewett asks prospective online tutors to consider whether they are skeptical about how well students can learn when tutored online, whether they think online tutoring is inferior to face-to-face tutoring, and whether they are open to new possibilities for what students can learn in online settings as opposed to traditional writing centers.

Keywords: technology, online tutoring, identity, tutoring: English

OWI Principles: 2, 13, 14

Hewett, Beth L., and Kevin Eric DePew, editors. Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015.

This book addresses the questions that OWI instructors and writing program, writing center, and other administrators should consider when developing viable OWI programs that have potentially effective practices. Each chapter corresponds to concerns raised in the 2013 A Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices published to the NCTE website by the CCCC Committee for Effective Practices in OWI. The five parts of this book address relevant issues for a principle-centered OWI: (1) An OWI Primer, (2) OWI Pedagogy and Administrative Decisions, (3) Practicing Inclusivity in OWI, (4) Faculty and Student Preparation for OWI, and (5) New Directions in OWI. Hewett and DePew emphasize a future academy where most writing courses will be taught or otherwise presented in some type of online setting, which makes it a core text for the next generation of composition theory and praxis and valuable for those who teach and/or tutor students writing in online settings.

Keywords: accessibility, inclusivity, praxis, research, theory, writing program administration, online writing programs, student preparation, faculty development, tutoring: English, online tutoring, writing centers, CCCC OWI Committee

OWI Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L., and Kevin Eric DePew. “Introduction: A Research History of the CCCC OWI Committee.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 5-30.

Hewett and DePew outline the history of the CCCC Committee for Effective Practices in Online Writing Instruction (OWI) and its research. This historical background enables readers to understand the empirical quantitative and qualitative research that grounds the 2013 A Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices published to the NCTE website by the CCCC Committee for Effective Practices in OWI. They begin by defining the work of the OWI Committee per its charges from the CCCC Executive Committee upon its 2007 constitution and 2010 reconstitution, and it outlines the vocabulary that the committee has used in its discussions of OWI. They continue by explaining the committee’s general research methods that included 1) determining core research questions, 2) developing an annotated bibliography of the extant literature up until 2008, 3) conducting site visits and personal interviews, 4) developing and launching two national surveys, 5) analyzing and reporting on those surveys through a report of the contemporary state of OWI in both fully online and hybrid settings, 6) developing an expert/stakeholder’s group that could advise the committee, and 7) writing the OWI Principles. They describe the importance of understanding all of its work in the context of a new understanding of access and inclusivity. Finally, they end by outlining the rest of the book by sections and chapters. This unique book has the potential to serve OWI administrators, teachers, and tutors as they assist and teach students through online media.

Keywords: CCCC OWI Committee, faculty development, research, literature review, interviews, surveys, accessibility, inclusivity, writing program administration, online writing programs

OWI Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L., and Robert Lynn. “Training ESOL Instructors and Tutors for Online Conferencing.” The Writing Instructor, Sept. 2007,

Using published literature to make the case that multilingual students need more support and intervention than may be common in contemporary tutoring practices, Hewett and Lynn argue that instructors who conduct one-to-one, online conferencing with multilingual students (ESOL) can experience particular challenges that require them to approach the students differently from what they would do with native English speakers. Particularly because online interactions have qualities of both talk and text, multilingual students may need different strategies that online instructors (both teachers and tutors) should receive in training. They suggest that training should be considered in terms of modality (asynchronicity and synchronicity) rather than one of selecting and using particular technologies. Hewett and Lynn offer example ESOL case studies to exemplify ten training points.  They additionally provide two ESOL examples in the appendixes. The ten strategies are 1) know how to give face, 2) sell yourself as an instructor, 3) make an art of clockwatching, 4) find out what the student wants, 5) learn how to talk to a particular student, 6) know what you’re talking about, 7) contexualize the conference, 8) use clear language, 9) proofread, and 10) teach by doing.

Keywords: ELL, ESL, multilingual writers, L2, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction, tutor training, tutoring: english, instructor interaction, faculty development, teaching with technology: English

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 7, 14

Hruby, Alison, et al. “(BEG)ging the Question: Using Online Tools to Support Writing Feedback.” Kentucky English Bulletin, vol. 63, no. 2, 2014, pp. 30-36.

Hruby et al. explore the usefulness of feedback on student writing and encourage the use of a writing workshop approach within a composition course. They enhance the argument for writing workshops by arguing for the use of technology to help create a community of writers. Specifically, they examine the use of Blackboard, Edmodo, and Google+ as technological options to connect students and to provide safe places to support a writing workshop pedagogy, helping students to move beyond surface-level commentary on each other’s writing. Ultimately, with appropriate planning and support, technology can be used to enhance the writing workshop, helping students to improve their writing and their role within a community of writers. This article is not entirely focused on OWI, as some activities seem to be an extension of face-to-face classes. However, this helps to demonstrate that activities grounded in face-to-face pedagogy can be migrated to OWI with appropriate revision for the online domain.

Keywords: writing workshop, community, feedback, peer review, collaboration, Blackboard, technology, teaching with technology: English,

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 11

Imig, Stephanie. “Innovative Writing Instruction: Writing Rewired--Teaching Writing in an Online Setting.” English Journal, vol. 99, no. 3, 2010, pp. 80-83.

Stephanie Imig argues that teaching writing online is similar to f2f writing instruction, and writing instructors must rely on their knowledge of composition pedagogy in the online domain. The main challenge for Imig when teaching online is the ability to insert herself into her students’ writing processes and to offer feedback and advice as writing took place. To become more directly involved with students as they wrote, Imig developed an activity that she describes in detail within the article. Through this discussion, Imig establishes that success in any writing-based activity, whether f2f or online, can result when students feel a personal connection to the project, when students are encouraged to experiment and be creative with the project, and when they are given models to explore prior to creating their own texts. These guidelines ground many composition pedagogies, and no matter the modality of the writing class, Imig encourages writing instructors to rely on these guidelines.

Keywords: pedagogy: English, feedback, modeling, instructor interaction, student engagement, composition, modality

OWI Principles: 2, 4

Johnson-Eilola, Johndan, and Stuart A. Selber. “The Changing Shapes of Writing: Rhetoric, New Media, and Composition.” Going Wireless: A Critical Exploration of Wireless and Mobile Technologies for Composition Teachers and Researchers, edited by Amy C. Kimme Hea, Hampton, 2009, pp. 15-34.

Johnson-Eilola and Selber argue that instead of viewing students’ use of instant messaging or texting technologies as a distraction in the classroom, instructors can instead use various forms of new media to teach students to view communication rhetorically. They emphasize the benefit of project-based, rather than genre-based, pedagogy. The authors present a framework of context, change, content, and tools that students can use to analyze various communication situations and select the appropriate communication technologies. While the chapter’s focus and two extended scenarios assume a face-to-face classroom setting, the “C3T” framework Johnson-Eilola and Selber advocate is a useful one for helping students approach online writing projects and consider writing technologies.

Keywords: mobile, genre, technology in teaching: English

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4

Kimme Hea, Amy C., editor. Going Wireless: A Critical Exploration of Wireless and Mobile Technologies for Composition Teachers and Researchers. Hampton, 2009.

The essays in the book Going Wireless are built on the premise that because of the proliferation of mobile technologies within the lives of teachers and students, composition and rhetoric teachers and scholars’ roles will evolve as they take on the role of technology teachers in addition to teaching rhetoric and composition. These teachers and scholars are not only in a unique position to be critical users of this technology, but they can also help students to become critical of how they use technology within an increasingly technologically-infused society. The book is divided into five sections, each focusing on a different aspect of wireless and mobile technology as it connects to teaching and learning. Section 1 explores how mobile and wireless devices change our perspectives of teaching and also our conceptions of what it means to compose. Section 2 considers how wireless and mobile technologies change the roles of teachers and students. Section 3 examines how wireless and mobile devices have been adopted through specific programs and initiatives into educational institutions. Section 4 focuses on how the mobility of these technologies provides potentials and limitations for composition pedagogy. Section 5 explores specific mobile devices and their impact on various domains. As students increasingly access online classes through mobile technologies, these issues will become increasingly relevant in OWI.

Keywords: mobile technology, pedagogy: English, composition, critical pedagogy, administration, faculty interaction, student-to-student interaction

OWI Principles: 2, 4

Kittle, Peter, and Troy Hicks. “Transforming the Group Paper with Collaborative Online Writing.” Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture, vol. 9, no. 3, 2009, pp. 525-39.

The article offers practical suggestions for taking advantage of online communication platforms to coordinate collaboration for group projects, a genre of coursework Kittle and Hicks acknowledge as historically problematic. They ground their suggestions on a “new literacies” approach, considering especially the impact of new technologies on “ethos” development in collaborative environments. Invoking “remix culture” and acknowledging recognized variations in collaborative models, they “contend that these technologies can make the process more streamlined, transparent, and ultimately collaborative than [traditional] group writing” (528-529). They then discuss synchronous and asynchronous class activities using Google Docs and various wiki platforms, that fostered interactivity throughout the writing process rather than just at the end as a last-minute compiling of contributors’ work. The four in-practice examples show how technology and collaboration can enhance scholarship in online writing classes.

Keywords: collaboration, literacy, technology, wikis, synchronous interaction, asynchronous interaction, wikis, interaction

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 11

Maid, Barry and Barbara J. D’Angelo. “What Do You Do When the Ground Beneath Your Feet Shifts?” Online Education 2.0: Evolving, Adapting, and Reinventing Online Technical Communication, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood, 2013, pp. 11-24.

Maid and D’Angelo describe a model for an upper-division, technical communication course offered online through the Multimedia Writing and Technical Communication (MWTC) program at Arizona State University. The course was a response to two exigencies: 1) budget constraints at the university that pushed more classes online quickly and 2) concerns from stakeholders regarding the quality and pedagogy of the service course. As a result of these factors, the authors described online course design centered on the concept of “Online 2G,” or an online course with a set of standardized outcomes and modules that could be customized by a wide range of part-time faculty. This chapter explores four concepts related to the move from more fluid to more standardized courses, including 1) issues related to changing administrative roles and university restructuring, 2) the ability for faculty to have both a consistent, assessable structure and some flexibility in choosing course content, 3) constraints with the Blackboard LMS, and 4) the need for (and the limitations surrounding) online communities consisting of faculty and students at a distance. The chapter ends with recommendations for structuring online courses and programs that are both consistent and flexible and the call to hire a diverse, experienced faculty to teach and interact in these programs.

Keywords: course and program design: English, curriculum, technical and professional writing, online writing programs, administration, writing program administration, Blackboard, course management systems, pre-designed courses, community

OWI Principles: 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12

Mick, Connie Snyder and Geoffrey Middlebrook. “Asynchronous and Synchronous Modalities.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 129-48.

Mick and Middlebrook provide an overview of the two means of interacting with students in online writing course, synchronous and asynchronous, with the latter currently being the prevailing modality. After a discussion of the technologies available in each modality, the authors examine three dimensions that shape which modality might offer better pedagogical solutions in the end: inclusivity and accessibility, technical viability and IT support, and pedagogical rationale. Mick and Middlebrook conclude that while the asynchronous modality is more widely employed, some pedagogical goals are often better met with current synchronous tools. They observe that future technologies will make available additional tools that may lead to wider use of synchronous technologies in online writing instruction. The authors close with a reminder that both asynchronous and synchronous tools must be chosen based on a consideration of student access first and pedagogical rationale as a close second.

Keywords: asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction, accessibility, technical support, pedagogy: English, course and program design: English,

OWI Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 13

Moberg, Eric. “The College Writing Center: Best Practices, Best Technologies." ERIC, 7 Mar. 2010,

Moberg describes the key attributes that make writing centers successful, whether they are on-ground or online. The article highlights the importance of having a mission of lifelong learning; the necessity of well-trained tutors, organized services, and clearly defined leadership; and the benefits of technology. Moberg describes on-ground and online tutoring as fundamentally the same, the latter emerging to grant students greater access to services. Student-centered tutoring methods such as collaboration and modeling support adult, college-level learners. In the discussion about technology and in the section on Online Writing Labs that follows, Moberg explains how technology has improved the student learning experience with greater access to scholarly sources, making research easier and encouraging writing as a process. Tutors can also work with students at a distance using online tutoring rooms such as Adobe Connect. Institutions benefit by having fewer overhead expenses as tutors work from home. Even with these benefits, Moberg’s main point is clear. Technology is not more important than the quality of instruction.

Keywords: writing center, online tutoring, educational technology, best practices, technology, teaching with technology: English, student success, online resources, research writing

OWI Principles: 2, 13, 14

O’Sullivan, Mary F. “Worlds Within Which We Teach: Issues for Designing World Wide Web Course Material.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 1, 1999, pp. 61-72.

O’Sullivan outlines the shift from “self-taught Web site [sic] writers” creating courses online to the emergence of “course-in-a-box” software (61). In 1999, she identifies around twelve software packages for distance learning, and her study focuses on “how that software influences the creation of an online course” (62). In evaluating these products, she asks four questions: “What does the software produce or what pedagogy does it support? Is the resulting Web site static or active? How is the page created and what skills does it take to employ? How much control does the instructor have over the result, aesthetically and also mechanically?” (65). Her review of a variety of types of is later called Learning Management Systems (LMSs) provides valuable insight into the evolution of these products. She concludes that “Useful instruction using computer technology begins with thoughtful and appropriate use of that technology by instructors not only to support, but also to extend, their traditional pedagogies” (69). This article is a valuable historical overview of early LMS efforts and provides a catalogue of these products for researchers interested in the history of online writing instruction.

Keywords: course and program design: English, technology, course management systems, pedagogy: English, distance education, web design

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4

Oswal, Sushil, and Beth Hewett. “Accessibility Challenges for Visually Impaired Students and Their Online Writing Instructors.” Rhetorical Accessability: At the Intersection of Technical Communication and Disability Studies, edited by Lisa Meloncon, Baywood, 2013, pp. 135-56.

Stating that access in online teaching most often refers to throwing a wide net to reach students in geographically distributed locations or requesting that disabled students contact the professor in the first week of class, Oswal and Hewett frame accessibility in online writing instruction in terms of the core issues that arise for people with disabilities, using visual impairment as the core example. The authors use results of the 2011 State of the Art of OWI report developed by the CCCC Committee for Effective Practices in OWI to demonstrate that those who teach writing of any kind in online settings are underprepared to consider access issues and, in some cases, express a lack of interest in them. They relate problems inherent to defining access adequately as one source of the problem. Oswal and Hewett extend the extant literature on access and OWI by providing a series of adaptive technologies for OWI that include textbook and technological choices (i.e., modality, course management systems, multimodal text accessibility, visual aspects of formatting, resources beyond the OWI classroom, and online conferencing). They conclude with an appendix offering tools for improving accessibility of electronic materials for the blind that provides a place for interested educators to begin their search.

Keywords: accessibility, disability studies, assistive technology, multimodal, visually impaired users

OWI Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 15

Ragan, Tillman J., and Patricia R. White. “What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate: The Criticality of Writing in Online Instruction.” Computers and Composition, vol. 18, no. 4, 2001, pp. 399-409.

Ragan and White stress a need for new writing skills to meet the learner in the online environment, and they offer some specific, practical examples that are developed primarily for email communication. They explain that the speed of online communication leads to the possibility for miscommunication between teachers and their students. They suggest using their two “Golden Triangles of Online Communication” as a model for communication. The first Golden Triangle focuses on the learner, the context, and the task. The second Golden Triangle encourages online instructors to ask these questions: “(a) What is this about?; (b) Why should I care?; and (c) What am I supposed to do?” (399). The authors conclude with an emphasis on clarity in written communication for online courses and online correspondence with students.

Keywords: email, communication

OWI Principle:  2, 3

Reilly, Colleen, and Barbara L’Eplattenier. “Redefining Collaboration through the Creation of World Wide Web Sites.” IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, vol. 39, no. 4, 1996, pp. 215-33.

The authors establish the benefits and challenges of small-group, task-based collaborative environments as both a part of everyday workplaces and as a teaching strategy with an emphasis on “workplace writing roles and practices” (2). While scenario-based projects, such a consulting tasks, can replicate some of the complexities of collaborative writing in the workplace, whole class project scenarios can more adequately replicate the full range of workplace complexity. In addition, the discourse community borrowed from the actual workplace and transferred to the Web adds another layer of complexity. The article describes the project, conducted at Purdue University in Fall 1995, and provides student feedback on how the project challenged them to think rhetorically for multiple audiences. The project described in the article and the time period in which it was conducted provide insight into how course projects implemented during the early days of the Internet integrated new technology into professional writing pedagogy.

Keywords: technical and professional writing, collaboration, pedagogy: English, business writing

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 11

Reilly, Colleen, and Joseph John Williams. “The Price of Free Software: Labor, Ethics, and Context in Distance Education.” Computers and Composition, vol. 23, no. 1, 2006, pp. 68-90.

Reilly and Williams investigated whether open-source software choices were influenced by instructors’ institutional pressures and structures. They concluded that “due to time constraints, inadequate technical expertise, and institutional mandates, both proactive and implied, many instructors select commercial courseware—such as Blackboard and WebCT—when teaching their distance-learning courses.” (69). Even though open-source software more closely aligns with the liberatory and participatory nature of many university and college writing courses and programs, the time and knowledge constraints on online writing instructors can dissuade them from using open-source software. In a survey distributed to the WPA-L and TechRhet listservs, participants identified ease of use as the primary motivating factor in selecting course systems for online classes. Also at issue are the tension between philosophies that encourage the sharing of knowledge and the concerns that institutions and others might monetize the software and content produced by instructors using open-source tools. The authors review three open-source course management systems in terms of their viability for use by online writing instructors: Drupal, Plone, and Sakai (75). They concluded that the most viable course management system was Drupal. They also reviewed Blackboard and WebCT and concluded that these proprietary systems could be rigid and complicate the idea of open sharing so important to writing pedagogy. They conclude with case studies of four educators who use course management systems and identified a “disconnect between the professed support for open-source applications and the extent of their use for delivering writing courses in a distance-learning format” (88). This study raises crucial questions about who controls the environment of the online writing class and how the increasingly contingent nature of faculty positions might prevent instructors from fully implementing innovative and open-source technologies.

Keywords: accessibility, open-source software, teaching with technology: English, surveys, research, Blackboard, course management systems, academic labor,

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 5, 6, 12, 15

Remley, Dirk. “Writing in Web-based Disciplinary Courses: New Media, New Disciplinary Composing Expectations.” Computers and Composition, vol. 32, June 2014, pp. 1-18. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2014.04.002.

Remley’s article surveys writing instructors who teach writing intensive courses (WIC) across the disciplines to ascertain the differences in assignments and modalities required in face-to-face WIC courses and web-based WIC courses. In addition, Remley sought to understand faculty perceptions of where they think students should learn digital literacy skills and what, if any, professional development resources were available to faculty in WIC classes who sought to implement multimodal assignments. He designed two surveys that elicited feedback from faculty who taught WIC classes and non-WIC classes in each modality. He concluded that faculty who taught web-based WIC classes were more likely to incorporate multimodal assignments in their classes. Fewer web-based WIC instructors indicated assigning the research paper. Only some of the classes mentioned grading for digital literacy skills in their assignments. Disciplines with greater numbers of online offerings were more likely to require multimodal assignments, but only about half of faculty across disciplines assumed that students would come to their classes with digital literacy skills. Overall, over 80% of respondents thought that first-year writing students should be learning some slide-show-related literacy skills. Remley concludes that a factor in the differences between web-based and face-to-face digital literacy expectations may be related to class size in that those programs which offered online classes had larger online classes, and therefore did not require as much writing from students. He also concludes that faculty from across the disciplines need knowledge and professional development to help students develop digital literacy skills across the curriculum. This article helps researchers understand the similarities and differences in the types of assignments required in online WAC and WID courses and to help support faculty in developing multimodal assignments and assessments in these courses.

Keywords: multimodal, faculty development, WID, WAC, research, surveys, qualitative research, course caps

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 12,

Rodrigo, Rochelle. “OWI on the Go.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 493-516.

Rodrigo discusses the pedagogy, faculty requirements, and institutional support necessary for successful online writing instruction (OWI). She begins the chapter by describing the changes in technology use inside, as well as outside, the classroom. Rodrigo cites data to indicate that instructors often neglect to recognize newer mobile technologies in their consideration of OWI. She also asserts that successful OWI pedagogy, while not focusing on technology as the course content, uses the technology in its instruction. Instructors should orientate their students to the format, but they should also use the online format to create an online learning environment in which students do not simply consume instruction but also create and edit their own material. Instructors then should work to address the concerns that arise through OWI with campus instructional technology to build more accessible courses, especially for writing content. Additionally, the institution should offer and encourage its faculty to become knowledgeable of online course design and offer professional development opportunities.

Keywords: accessibility, pedagogy: English, mobile technology, digital literacy, student engagement, instructional technology, faculty development

OWI Principles 1, 2, 3

Rubens, Philip, and Sherry Southard. “‘Students’ Technological Difficulties in Using Web-Based Learning Environments.”  Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood, 2005, pp. 193-205.

Rubens and Southard identify how they planned the initial online courses around research on web design and interaction through freeware and shareware, distribution lists, and Instant Messenger (AIM) and ICQ chat rooms for an online Certificate in Professional Communication and an online master’s degree in English, Technical, and Professional Communication. They provided training opportunities for students new to the technologies of the courses. In spite of this preparation, they found students still had difficulties navigating and participating in online courses. A study of email messages, threaded discussions, and summaries of phone and face-to-face interactions with students indicated that students required additional support to use discussion software, understand commands in browsers, and access course materials in various browsers. This study concludes with a list of ways in which faculty and programs can prepare their classes and their students for using technologies necessary to be successful in online settings.

Keywords: instructional technology, technical support, graduate programs, graduate students, student preparation, email, discussion: English, discussion boards

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 15

Savenye, Wilhelmina C., et al. “So You Are Going to Be an Online Writing Instructor: Issues in Designing, Developing, and Delivering an Online Course.” Computers and Composition vol. 18, no. 4, 2001, pp. 371-85. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/S8755-4615(01)00069-X.

Wilhelmina Savenye, Zane Olina, and Mary Niemczyk present guidelines for the design, development, and delivery of online writing courses as well as recommendations about how to best support students and teachers associated with such courses. Drawing from the field of instructional design, they recommend a three-step process for online course design. First, instructors analyze the context, learners, and goals of the course. Second, they use that analysis to guide the creation of the online instructional materials. Lastly, they engage in formative evaluations to make improvements to the design. The authors subdivide and discuss each of these steps, synthesizing relevant instructional design principles and applying them to online writing instruction. They also direct the reader to additional research and resources for each step. At the end of the article, the authors discuss ways that students need extra support in online courses—not only in accessing and learning to use new hardware and software but also in taking on a more active role in their learning. Additionally, they argue that instructors, too, need access to and training for new technologies as well as help transitioning to “their new roles as online facilitators, mentors, and guides” (381), and they make suggestions for how such training might best be implemented.

Keywords: instructional design, course and program design: English, faculty development, accessibility, student engagement

OWI principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10

Scopes, Lesley, and Bryan Carter. “Cybergogy, Second Life, and Online Technical Communication Instruction.” Online Education 2.0: Evolving, Adapting, and Reinventing Online Technical Communication, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood, 2013, pp. 179-95.

This chapter describes how Second Life and other online virtual worlds, in addition to gaming, serve a number of purposes. One of these purposes is in the technical writing classroom as students practice social knowledge construction in these worlds which help them to engage in problem solving for shared common goals. The authors describe how experiential writing and writing for machinima (or films produced using characters in virtual environments) can be used to meet the learning outcomes in technical writing classes. This chapter provides a potential synchronous classroom environment to increase creativity in online writing classes.

Keywords: virtual classroom, synchronous interaction, gamification, technical and professional writing,

OWI Principles: 2, 6, 11

Selfe, Cynthia L. Technology and Literacy in the Twenty-First Century: The Importance of Paying Attention. Southern Illinois UP, 1999.

Selfe’s seminal book, as Hugh Burns writes in the introduction, “transforms our [then] current limited discussions about technological literacy into more fully informed debates acknowledging the complex relationships between technology, literacy, education, power, economic conditions, and political goals” (xxii). In doing so, Selfe takes on three different facets of the conversation about technology and literacy: 1) the challenges of the new literacy agenda, 2) the social investment in the new literacy agenda, and 3) the responsibility of literacy educators to plan for action and change. This book coined the term “paying attention” in terms of technology use and is a primer for anyone working with literacy and technology. This collection, written at the turn of the 21st century, raises questions that permeate online writing instruction, and while the collection is not explicitly about online writing instruction, Selfe identifies the key elements that will echo through the field.

Keywords: literacy, technology

OWI Principles:  1, 2, 10, 13

Sidler, Michelle, et al. Computers in the Composition Classroom: A Critical Sourcebook, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.

Michelle Sidler, Richard Morris, and Elizabeth Overman Smith bring together research surrounding the use of computers in the composition classroom. The book is divided into six sections: 1) the earliest theoretical frameworks for the field of computers and writing; 2) literacy and access; 3) writers and identity; 4) writers and composing; 5) institutional programs; and 6) upcoming “New-Media” multimedia composition writing and pedagogies. The text, available free to educators through the publisher, is a potentially valuable collection that will assist with program development and teacher training regarding OWI.

Keywords: literacy, accessibility, multimedia

OWI Principles:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14

Snart, Jason. Hybrid Learning: The Perils and Promise of Blending Online and Face-to-Face Instruction in Higher Education, Praeger, 2010.

This book offers a thoroughly researched and critical exploration into hybrid teaching and learning. While not a “how-to” book for online and hybrid teaching and learning, readers looking for ways to create and/or improve their online or hybrid classes can find a plethora of ideas for classroom application through the thought-provoking discussions about the historical, political, financial, technological, and pedagogical aspects of online and hybrid classes. Snart provides an insightful and critical examination into the most controversial issues facing higher education that many administrators think will be solved by online classes, such as increasing enrollment, retention, and completion rates, and increasing profit.  The book is divided into seven chapters that address challenges in higher education; reasons for increased interest in hybrid classes; cultural motivations; profiles of hybrid classes, programs, and student experience; the use of technology to build community and increase collaboration; and speculation about the future of hybrid delivery.  

Key words: hybrid, blended, computer-mediated classrooms, educational technology, pedagogy: English, culture, online writing programs, collaboration, teaching with technology: English

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Snart, Jason. “Hybrid and Fully Online OWI.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, Parlor P, 2015, pp. 93-127.

Beginning with definitions of “fully online” and “hybrid” courses, this chapter explores the similarities and differences between these two types of instruction. According to Snart, “hybrid describes an environment where traditional, face-to-face instruction is combined with either distance-based or onsite computer-mediated settings” (95), whereas a fully online course has no face-to-face or onsite components to it (95). He also notes that these terms carry different definitions from one institution to the next depending on many factors, such as administrative perspective and the needs of different student bodies. For instance, a fully online course may have a requirement that students take tests onsite, and hybrid courses are not always split 50:50 between onsite and online class time. Another important consideration when defining these two types of instruction is that one is not a variant or deviation from another; they are both separate and unique delivery methods that do have some overlap but also have specific and defining characteristics of their own. For instance, when migrating material from a traditional face-to-face setting to a hybrid environment, some instructors believe that at least half of their classroom instruction should be replaced or simply put online. Snart explains that teaching strategies do not always function equally in both settings; instructors should choose which activities work best in face-to-face classes and which activities would work better online. Furthermore, issues associated with access, pedagogy, organization, presence, and community take different shapes depending on the type of instruction and the ratio of time spent online vs. face-to-face or onsite. Instructors should consider what they do well in each setting and capitalize on those strengths when building online and hybrid classes. Additionally, technology should not lead course design; online and hybrid courses should be objective-based where teaching is grounded in pedagogy first and foremost so that the design enables students to best meet course goals and objectives.

Keywords: blended, hybrid, instructional design, modality student success, faculty development, time management, faculty workload, course and program design: English, pedagogy: English, learning outcomes

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13

Snart, Jason. "Video Welcome Announcements in the LMS."OWI Open Resource, Conference on College Composition and Communication, 2013,

This website includes Snart’s “Welcome” video for a new online course where he provides students with information about the course, such as course content, the pace of the course, due dates, and how much time is required for class work. Along with the video, the website includes text in which Snart explains his reasons for using videos for online classes. He believes that even in online classes, students need to feel a connection to the instructor, and the videos help provide that connection. He also explains how he embedded this online video into Blackboard. This website not only has an example of a“Welcome” video Snart uses for an online class but also gives insight into the purpose of the video and how instructors might create these videos for their classes.

Key words: orientation, student success, pedagogy: English, video: English

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10

St. Amant, Kirk, and Rich Rice. “Online Writing in Global Contexts: Rethinking the Nature of Connections and Communication in the Age of International Online Media.” Computers and Composition, vol. 38, no. B, 2015, pp. v-x.

St.Amant and Rice note online media require writing instructors to re-think the notion of audience as a topic now inherently global in nature.  They also explain how current metaphors used to conceptualize and discuss this context often prevent instructors and students from understanding the complexities that can affect composing practices in international cyberspace.  St.Amant and Rice go on to argue the key to negotiating such factors involves identifying those areas – or friction points – that can affect how online compositions are accessed, read, considered, and used.  Some of these factors are connected to aspects of technology, others to geopolitics, and still others to cultural differences in rhetorical preferences and expectations.  Identifying such friction points, for St.Amant and Rice, is a matter of approaching online writing in international contexts as a three-part process they refer to as the “3Cs.”  The first of these Cs – contacting – focuses on how individuals use online media to access audiences in other cultures.  The second C – conveying – looks at the rhetorical strategies writers use to present ideas in ways that grab and hold the attention of readers from other cultures.  The third C – connecting – casts the writing process as one that should foster international dialogue by teaching students to compose in ways that encourage international readers to respond in writing to engage in broader discussions of a topic.  St.Amant and Rice conclude by noting the 3Cs approach can help instructors and students identify and address friction points in a way that can lead to more successful methods for teaching writing online in international contexts.

Keywords: course and program design: English, student engagement, student satisfaction, accessibility, interaction

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 14

St.Amant, Kirk, and Filipp Sapienza. Culture, Communication, and Cyberspace: Rethinking Technical Communication for International Online Environments.  Baywoood 2011.

This edited collection examines how aspects of culture and language affect online interactions at a time when the Internet was becoming increasingly international in scope as more nations and regions of the world were gaining online access.  Central to the entries in the collection is the issue of online education and the implications culture and language have for how conventional approaches to teaching writing in online education should (or need to) adapt to and evolve in relation  to this new global environment.  Within this context, chapters examine aspects such as how culture affects perceptions and uses of information systems, how cultural aspects influence attitudes toward online education, and how linguistic factors shape approaches individuals can use to engage in online educational settings.  In so doing, the overall volume bridges gaps between the research done in computer-mediated communication and in intercultural communication through a focus on educational practices associated with writing and communication.

Keywords: technical and professional writing, instructional design, student satisfaction, accessibility, interaction

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 14

Stine, Linda. "Teaching Basic Writing in a Web-Enhanced Environment." Journal of Basic Writing, vol. 29, no. 1, 2010, pp. 33-55.

Through a review of literature in basic and online writing instruction and her own experience as a veteran hybrid teacher, Stine urges those who teach developing writers to play a more active role in shaping the online education debate. Stine asks three main questions: 1) How does online learning change the teaching role? 2) What kinds of assignments are appropriate to this medium? and 3) What tools/methods can be used to encourage student self-reflection? As she evaluates the benefits of online writing instruction, Stine adopts a cautionary tone, arguing that the common challenges online writing teachers face are often amplified in the basic writing class since many developing writers lack confidence not only in their writing but also in their technological skills. These challenges, however, are countered by the rewards that innovative uses of technology can bring, such as expanding one’s “teaching arsenal” and developing closer relationships with students through more frequent and extended feedback. Stine closes by reiterating her conviction “that a hybrid course provides a better learning experience for the adult basic writers I teach than either a pure distance or face-to-face option would” (50). Her careful analysis of the different strategies needed when teaching basic writing online is valuable for instructors in all OWI formats.

Keywords: basic writing, developmental writing, hybrid, blended, literature review, assignment: English, technical support, instructor interaction

OWI Principle: 1, 2, 3, 4

Tesdell, Lee S. “Innovation in the Distributed Technical Communication Classroom.” Online Education 2.0: Evolving, Adapting, and Reinventing Online Technical Communication, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie. Baywood, 2013, pp. 257-69.

This chapter argues that distributed learning, such as that occurring across time and space in online classrooms, is an opportunity to develop innovative learning strategies. Tesdell defines distributed learning as “centered in the participants and their learning goals” and demonstrates how he uses technology in online classes to “provide cross-cultural collaborations, drawing on distributed online resources...and decentering pedagogy from instructor to students” (258). In this distributed setting, students must negotiate and share opportunities for their learning, including everything to taking over and leading synchronous meetings, finding times to meet together online, and finding and sharing resources outside of a traditional textbook. While distributed, synchronous learning has challenges, such as technical or other disruptions, Tesdell shows that complexity and complications that require faculty and students to be innovative can spawn creative work as well.

Keywords: synchronous interaction, video: English, distributed learning, collaboration, technical support

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 11, 13

Thrush, Emily A., and Necie Elizabeth Young. “Hither, Thither, and Yon: Process in Putting Courses on the Web.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 1, 1999, pp. 49-59.

Thrush and Young outline their experience with developing “Web-based” undergraduate and graduate courses, including some of the legal issues they faced in developing those classes. They not only put their classes online but also supported other faculty members with developing their course for Web-based delivery. The activities they found best suited to be offered on the Web were ones that “a) incorporated materials available on the Web, b) focused on the Web itself as a medium of communication, or c) made out-of-class assignments more interactive” (51). They provide examples of the types of activities that lent themselves to Web-based courses. The article also addresses technology selection and assessment of the Web-based courses. In creating these courses, Thrush and Young identify how the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA) complicated their Web-based classes and identify successes and pitfalls of their explorations into online classes. This article identifies some challenges with early online writing instruction and serves as an important document for researchers investigating the history of online writing instruction.

Keywords: course and program design: English, graduate courses, privacy, interaction

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4

Tucker, Virginia. “From Gamers to Grammarians: How Online Gaming is Changing the Nature of Digital Discourse in the Classroom.” Online Education 2.0: Evolving, Adapting, and Reinventing Online Technical Communication, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood, 2013, pp. 159-78.

Tucker applies the four categories of communication in online synchronous classroom environments first identified by Kirkpatrick (2005)—greeting, work, self-conscious, and irrelevant—to three recorded sessions of virtual classroom data from predominately freshmen who were new to the media of the virtual classroom in 2009. Of the fifty-five students participating in the virtual classrooms, 93% self-identified as online gamers. All three classes showed a marked increase in work-related discussion (between 62% and 81% of the interactions compared to Kirkpatrick’s 41%), even though all three sections focused on slightly different facets of the same discussion regarding workplace writing. Tucker then reviews reasons why these students spent more productive time in virtual class discussion than students in the previous study. She concludes that, perhaps, their experience communicating in online games, which are considered “crucial conversations” (166), more closely mirror the rhetorical environments of the virtual classroom. Both the simulation and stimulation of online games might “engage participants in knowledge making [and] prepare them for the challenge of academic discourse” (168). By means of comparison, Tucker points to the control of language conventions in online gaming communities and compares that to the control of language practices she finds familiar in online academic discussions. She concludes that, contrary to popular belief that online discourse harms students academically, “the growing popularity of multiplayer online gaming suggests that future generations of students will be increasingly capable of participating in a community of thinkers that utilizes the virtual spaces for knowledge-making activities” (176). This study demonstrates the importance of paying attention to students’ literacy activities outside of the online writing classroom as students from those communities increasingly transition into online classroom spaces.

Keywords: online gaming, synchronous interaction, social constructionism, first-year writers, technical and professional writing, research, virtual classroom, surveys, qualitative research, digital literacy

OWI Principles: 2, 4, 11

Warnock, Scott. “And Then There Were Two: The Growing Pains of an Online Writing Course Faculty Training Initiative.” Proceedings of the Distance Learning Administration (DLA) 2007 Conference, St. Simons Island GA, 26 June 2007.

Warnock provides an account of the attrition associated with a new online faculty training initiative at Drexel University in 2004. He outlines the challenges that Drexel faced when the university decided to put 20% of its first year writing courses online in Fall 2004. That decision meant that at least 20 instructors would need online training to teach those courses; however, as the summer program progressed, the program lost instructors quickly. By the end of the fall term, only one instructor was still enrolled in the online training program. Challenges of establishing the online training program included lack of institutional backing, offering too many courses online at one time with a technologically unprepared faculty, emphasizing technology over pedagogy in previous training, and providing no course-specific instruction. Differences in opinion over the emphasis of the training course resulted in additional challenges. Some instructors wanted a course template created for them while others wanted to learn all of the tools and capabilities of the learning management system. In addition, the university failed to advertise the online courses, and enrollment for Fall 2004 was low. A 44% drop rate in online courses occurred due to students’ misunderstanding about the work and self-motivation needed for success in online classes. Despite the hurdles, the training program was restored in subsequent semesters as more teachers experimented with and found success in hybrid classes.

Keywords: first-year writing, hybrid, faculty development, teaching with technology: English,  online writing programs, writing program administration

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12

Warnock, Scott. “Online Writing Instruction and the Disappearing Educational Interface.” Rhetorics and Technologies: 20th Penn State Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, Penn State University, Collegeville, PA, July 2007.

In this conference talk, Warnock explores how digital technology might help in re-thinking students’ experience with what he calls “the interface of writing education.” Offering education as a type of interface, he points out that users/students regularly use technology to navigate the educational interface, and this may be a good thing for writing instruction because introducing layers of technological infrastructure may not complicate students’ learning but instead place it within more comfortable and familiar contexts. He then draws on several student writing samples to demonstrate that students may write “better” on message boards. In the samples, he compares message board posts to formal papers written by the same student about similar topics; using a rudimentary coding methodology, he concludes that the online environment, which involves students working in increasingly “natural” ways through the reading and writing they engage in with digital devices, may provide a “striking opportunity” for writing instruction.

Keywords: interface, discussion boards, reading, digital literacy

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 5, 15

Warnock, Scott. “The Low-Stakes, Risk-Friendly Message Board Text.” Teaching with Student Texts: Essays Toward an Informed Practice, edited by Joseph Harris et al., Utah State UP, 2010, pp. 96-107.

In this chapter in a book about helping teachers work with student texts, Warnock describes how to use message boards to facilitate students’ creation and dissemination of texts in their courses. Warnock provides a brief rationale behind using message boards, including that they are usually low-stakes, open, multi-audience, semiformal, conversational, and topic-focused while also opening opportunities for students to create text/writing and helping develop an overall peer-review-based course approach. He then describes message board assignments and practices, often including sample prompt language. The chapter closes with Warnock discussing how message boards are an ideal way of matching writing pedagogy with technology. He states that “Many concepts and practices we associate with good writing pedagogy are given new potential with the use of message-board texts” (106). He also recommends that in terms of grading, teachers “not be the bottleneck in the system” (105) and for faculty not to over-evaluate each post.

Keywords: discussion board, asynchronous interaction, community, peer review, teaching with technology: English

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4

Warnock, Scott. Teaching Writing Online: How and Why. National Council of Teachers of English, 2009.

In this book, Warnock describes not just how to teach an online (and hybrid) writing course but why such teaching is good for students and teachers. This practical text, written mainly for teachers moving into teaching writing in online settings, focuses on how OWI might help teachers re-think college writing courses for the fundamental reason that online such courses take place primarily through and with students' written communications. A primary idea driving the book is “migrating” to online writing instruction, with Warnock insisting that instructors “focus on what [they] do well in the classroom, [they] will find the move to online teaching less difficult – and more enjoyable” (xiv). Several of the book’s chapters are designed to help new online teachers with general concerns, such as choosing technologies, managing time wisely, and making core pedagogy decisions. The heart of the book describes specific teaching approaches and strategies, such as organizing course materials, creating reasonable course pacing, managing message board conversations, conducting peer reviews, responding to students, and running collaborative assignments. This pedagogically-centered book ends with Warnock discussing how teaching writing with technology is, at its base, a “personality-driven endeavor.” The book is framed by 41 guidelines for OWI and includes a resource chapter and appendix with sample teaching materials.

Keywords: pedagogy: English, discussion boards, faculty development, course and program design: English, navigation, collaboration, teaching with technology: English

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 13

Warnock, Scott. “Streaming Media for Writing Instruction: Drexel’s Streaming Media Server and Novel Approaches to Course Lessons and Assessment.”  Streaming Media in Higher Education, edited by Charles Wankel and J. Sibley Law, IGI Global, 2011, pp. 218-36.

In this chapter, in a book about various ways streaming media is being used in college instruction, Warnock discusses DragonDrop, a streaming media system to help Drexel University faculty use various types of media in their teaching and convert a wide variety of file types. Warnock’s chapter focuses on how DragonDrop simplifies the use of video applications specifically for writing instruction practices, such as assessing  and responding to student writing, modeling the writing process for students, creating activity-oriented workshops, and conducting course lessons and introducing course materials. Warnock says that Drexel’s system solves core issues, including creating and distributing files and ensuring that students can access that material, so teachers can focus on creative teaching uses of technology.

Keywords: video: English, audio, feedback, process, modeling, screencasting, technology, assessment: English, technical support

OWI Principles: 1, 2, 4, 11


Warnock, Scott. “Interrogating Online Writing Instruction.” Learning and Teaching Writing Online: Strategies for Success, Studies in Writing, vol. 29, series editor Gert Rijlaarsdam and volume editors Mary Deane and Teresa Guasch, Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2015, pp. 178-87.

In the final chapter of an international edited collection about OWI, Warnock “enquires into the future” of OWI (176), using as a frame the collaborative creation of the CCCC “A Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices for OWI.” The chapter explores several key OWI areas: teachers migrating practices online, low-stakes writing as an inherent aspect of teaching writing online, responding to students’ texts, and new assessment opportunities. At the end of the chapter, Warnock introduces the idea of the “fractal” nature of writing instruction, or how “the smallest components of our teaching interactions resemble structurally our broadest interactions,” in challenging “writing developers” to explore what exactly it is we do as and “why online is a great place to learn how to write” (183).

Keywords: feedback, assessment: English, online writing programs, course and program design: English

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 7

Warnock, Scott. “Teaching the OWI Course.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp.  151-82.

This extensive chapter covers five of the OWI principles (Principles 2–6) presented in A Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices for OWI. Warnock seeks to address the question of how to teach writing online successfully.  He analyzes how the principles and corresponding effective practices tackle obstacles and the challenges teachers encounter, specifically in an online environment. Each principle is thoroughly discussed, including examples of how to implement possible best practices into online teaching. Warnock summarizes the chapter by emphasizing that first and foremost, online writing course are writing courses, and teachers need to remain focused on the course goals and objectives. Although teachers should develop strategies to utilize new technologies, they should also adapt their own best practices from onsite teaching and maintain core teaching principles in online writing courses. The responsibility of institutions and writing programs with regard to flexibility in course content and faculty training is also addressed.

Keywords: learning outcomes, teaching with technology: English, best practices, pedagogy: English, online writing programs

OWI Principles:  2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Yagelski, Robert P., and Sarah Powley. “Virtual Connections and Real Boundaries: Teaching Writing and Preparing Writing Teachers on the Internet. Computers and Composition, vol. 13, 1996, pp. 25–36.

Yagelski and Powley detail the struggles they encountered when they tried to use electronic means to connect their writing classes for secondary-school teachers. They provide a background of their collaboration, which was to be a collaboration that exchanged student texts via email between a college composition class at a high school and an advanced composition class at a university. Both teachers hoped that the collaboration would help secondary students improve their writing and secondary-school teachers in training to be able to practice giving commentary on real student texts. The article describes the technological, instructional, and theoretical boundaries that stifled their collaboration. And while, in the end, they found the collaboration useful, they note that “our inability to use computer technology to facilitate the intended discourse between the high school and university classes gave rise to . . . complex questions about the purposes of writing instruction in high schools and universities” (31). After detailing the questions that arose from the collaboration, they conclude that using computer technologies to link classes open the path for a variety of discussions regarding a disconnect between secondary and post-secondary writing classrooms. While this article is not explicit about OWI, the issues raised in this article inform professional work between colleges and high schools who seek to implement computer-mediated activities through online platforms.

Keywords: teacher training, collaboration email, composition, teaching with technology: English, technical support, discussion: English, computer-mediated communication

OWI Principles: 2, 3, 4, 11

Zdenek, Sean. “Accessible Podcasting: College Students on the Margins in the New Media Classroom.” Computers and Composition Online, Fall 2009,

This article investigates strategies and approaches to make academic podcasting more inclusive and accessible, calling for producers of new media content to pay attention to normative or “ableist” assumptions about students. It shares research from Apple iTunes, the Open Courseware movement, Duke University’s experiment with iPods, and intersections of disability and new media. In particular, the author suggests that academia must move beyond the questions of whether students with disability can or should be accommodated. Teachers must question hidden ideologies that much new media technology conveys as they limit and shape teaching philosophies and approaches to creating and sharing content. If not, some students have an inherent educational advantage over others. New media writing pedagogies and learning environments must be accessible for a “universal user” type rather than creating inferior substitutes for primary education.

Keywords: accessibility, disability, podcasting, usability testing

OWI Principles 1, 2, 4