Bedford Bibliography of Research in Online Writing Instruction: Principle 11

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OWI Principle 11: Online writing teachers and their institutions should develop personalized and interpersonal online communities to foster student success.


Alvarez, Ibis, Anna Espasa, and Teresa Guasch. “The Value of Feedback in Improving Collaborative Writing Assignments in an Online Learning Environment.” Studies in Higher Education, vol. 37, no. 4, 2012, pp. 387-400.

Alvarez et al. discuss a study with feedback during a collaborative writing assignment. They find that when teachers ask questions and give suggestions in their feedback instead of making corrections, students respond positively and generate significant changes in the texts they are working on, revising for content and in consideration of the instructor’s feedback. The authors aim to assess both student reactions to instructor feedback and the effects of types of feedback on how students revise their texts. They ground their approach to feedback on the literature of Raymond Kulhavy and William Stock and argue that the feedback given on this collaborative writing assignment meets two conditions that facilitate the learning process: correction and elaboration. Their study shows the importance of student participation in the assessment process. They argue that feedback design as an interactive and communicative process promotes student involvement in the learning process in collaborative writing assignments.

Keywords: collaboration, assessment: English, feedback, student engagement

OWI Principles: 4, 5, 11

Arduser, Lora et al. “The Need for Rules: Determining the Usability of Adding Audio to the MOO.” Computers and Composition, 28, 2011


Lora Arduser, Julie M. Davis, Robert Evans, Christine Hubbell, Deanna Mascle, Cheri Mullins, and Christopher J. Ryan describe how adding an audio component to a MOO impacts the user experience. Five students in the Online Technical Communication and Rhetoric Ph.D. program at Texas Tech University completed a series of tasks that simulated logging on to an online class and performing a series of tasks, such as pushing web pages to a display window, that could be completed using either audio or print instructions. The tests were designed to evaluate “whether a user solved problems with task completion by using text, audio, or a combination of the two and whether audio increased participation for some users” (61). Using a combination of think-aloud protocols, post-task questionnaires, and qualitative data on user participation, the researchers concluded that audio can improve the learning environment and increasing social connections. The article provides additional qualitative and quantitative data from the participants before concluding that several issues contributed to successful implementation of audio into online classes: 1) managing multiple channels of conversation, 2) learning and managing audio technology, 3) modeling behavior and instructor leadership, 4) the desire to relate, and 5) the establishment of rules. This article both demonstrates an effective protocol for usability testing and provides support for using audio and other multimodal means to connect with and engage students with online courses and online task completion.


Keywords: usability testing, synchronous interaction, qualitative research, quantitative research, multimedia, MOO


OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 15

Barrett, Edward. “Collaboration in the Electronic Classroom.” Technology Review, vol. 96, no. 2, 1993, pp. 50-55.

Barrett describes MIT’s first distributed network (The Networked Educational Online System or NEOS), a system that allows students to exchange drafts outside of class and is a precursor of more contemporary blended or hybrid classrooms. Barrett indicates that the goal of NEDS was “to support the complex private and social activities that make up the learning process” (51). The article describes the interface of the tool, which does not provide visual cues to help students understand which comments are made by the teacher, thus, providing a more egalitarian response experience. The students become “active agents” in responding to their peers’ writing, and “thus develop a greater awareness of audience and personal voice” (53). Advantages of the system included student satisfaction with the interactive capabilities of NEOS. Barrett concludes with a vision of online classes that has, for the most part, come to pass in the years since NEOS was developed. This article provides a historical view of early efforts at hybrid and blended classes and is valuable to anyone studying the history of computer-mediated peer review.

Keywords: networked classrooms, peer-review, student engagement

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Bastian, Heather, and Fauchald, Sally K. “Confronting the Challenges of Blended Graduate Education with a WEC Project.” Across the Disciplines, vol. 11, no. 3, July 2014,

Bastian and Fauchald identify the challenges faced when a nursing program in a rural area of Minnesota moved from fully face-to-face to a blended program (some courses face-to-face and others online). As the program grew and attracted more adult learners, Bastian (the composition and rhetoric specialist on her campus) worked with Fauchald to train nursing faculty to implement a Writing-Enriched Curriculum (WEC) by “engaging in a three-phase, recursive process in which they create, implement, and assess a writing plan with the assistance of a composition and rhetoric specialist.” Faculty were encouraged to scaffold writing assignments, create group activities that encouraged students to write for real audiences, and incorporate peer review. The article outlines how Bastian and Fauchald evaluated the projects and “demonstrates the value of interdisciplinary collaborations between professional program faculty and composition and rhetoric experts.” This article models a successful collaboration between writing specialists and faculty in the disciplines and encourages WAC and WID programs to work with writing specialists to improve writing strategies for their online courses.

Keywords: WAC, WID, hybrid courses, scaffolding, collaboration

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 10, 11

Bell, Lisa. “Preserving the Rhetorical Nature of Tutoring When Going Online.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood, 2nd ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011, pp. 351-58.

In this chapter, Bell recounts her experience as a new writing center coordinator who navigates and reframes an existing but not functional OWL. She narrates her experience, beginning with returning to the foundational principles of writing center theory espoused by Stephen North, Mary Dossin, and Joan Hawthorne. She then reviews the current state of the OWL, which consisted primarily of email submissions. Without the face-to-face interaction and meaning making involved in the traditional writing center, Bell felt that some of the tried-and-true methods of tutoring would be difficult to implement in an OWL. In particular, she found that the conversational nature of tutoring, so crucial to the experience of shared meaning-making, was lost when questions were added to a student’s paper and the tutor received no reply. Because synchronous online tutoring sessions take more time to complete, tutors found themselves getting straight to the point of the writing, which took away relationship-building that was the heart of the face-to-face tutoring sessions. Bell also found out that tutors in OWLs needed different types of training than their face-to-face colleagues. She concludes by calling for more research into what makes OWLs effective, research that others have done since this chapter was first published. This article provides those chronicling the shift from face-to-face to online writing centers a snapshot of a single center at a point of transition, a valuable narrative in the longer history of understanding OWLs.

Keywords:  writing center, online writing lab, synchronous interaction, tutoring: English

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 13, 14

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

Blair, Kristine. “Teaching Multimodal Assignments in OWI Contexts.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 471-92.

Blair argues that as instructors as a whole look to transform their understanding of writing, they must not sacrifice the old mode of alphabetic writing for the new medium of multimodal writing but instead learn to encompass and enmesh both into a new synchronous medium. Although the whats and the hows of integrating multimodality into the online curriculum are important, Blair states that it is equally important to consider the whys of multimodal composing—creating multimodal text aligns the technology with the capability to communicate and function within a multitude of media, while also allowing students to utilize multimodal texts to explore the subject in a variety of ways that target different learning strategies and gives students a flexible choice when viewing assignments. Several of the OWI principles stress the ongoing need for instructors to communicate and interact with their students across mediums and to use digital tools in developing content for students to consume; no one text, regardless of medium, is accessible to all, and instructors should consider the ways that students can produce multiple versions of the content to allow learners to experiment with multiple modes to provide access to as many users as possible. Along with introducing and utilizing multimodal texts, instructors should question their own abilities, asking (1) what do they need to know to utilize and implement the multimodal technology and (2) how are they going to learn what they do not know already.

Keywords:  multimodal, accessibility, digital composing

OWI Principles:  1, 11

Boas, Isabella Villas. “Process Writing and the Internet: Blogs and Ning Networks in the Classroom.” English Teaching Forum, vol. 49, no. 2, 2011, pp. 26-33

Boas argues for an ESL/EFL writing pedagogy that centers on genre, process, and practices that are informed by social constuctivism. In doing so, she advocates for multimodal assignments that utilize the Internet for language learning purposes; as she notes, ESL/EFL students can use blogs and networking sites like Ning, which are helpful collaborative tools. She offers two examples of assignments teachers could adopt: 1) blogging argumentative essays and 2) composing an expository paragraph using Ning.  She outlines the steps for each assignment.

Keywords: ESL, EFL, multilingual writers, teaching with technology: English, blogs, networked classrooms, pedagogy: English

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 11

Bourelle, Tiffany et al. “Assessing Learning in Redesigned Online First-Year Composition Courses” Digital Writing Assessment and Evaluation, edited by Heidi McKee and Danielle DeVoss. Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State Press, 2013.


Tiffany Bourelle, Sherry Rankins-Robertson, Andrew Bourelle, and Duane Roen describe a model of online course delivery that was developed in response to budget cuts at Arizona State University. The authors created the Writer’s Studio, a first-year writing curriculum focused on “post-process pedagogy, learner-centered pedagogy, multimodal instruction, and eportfolios that showcase[d] self-assessment in response to the course learning outcomes.” The Writer’s Studio utilizes coordinators (non-tenured, full-time faculty), instructors (part-time, contingent faculty), and instructional assistants (upper-level English majors and graduate assistants) to deliver pre-designed course content and both “facilitate instruction and provide feedback.”  All aspects of the course design and delivery were collaborative and learner-centered. Designers used the Quality MattersTM rubric to ensure effective course design, and learners were introduced to their courses and facilitators through video introductions. Classes used the WPA Outcomes Statement and the “Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing” to develop course learning outcomes, and instruction in the class was multimodal. The article provides examples of instructional videos, multimedia learning objects, and portfolio prompts and sample responses. Finally, the authors share their portfolio assessment scores and how they used those scores to revise and improve the Writer’s Studio. This article provides a sound, research-based and learner-centered model of how large-scale first-year writing courses and programs can use research-based and professional standards to respond to budget fluctuations while simultaneously remaining engaging and learner-centered.


Keywords: learner-centered, Quality MattersTM, collaboration, contingent faculty, multimodal, video: English, writing program administration, pre-designed courses, portfolios


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

Boyd, Patricia Webb. “Analyzing Students’ Perceptions of Their Learning in Online and Hybrid First-Year Composition Courses.” Computers and Composition, vol. 25, no. 2, 2008, pp. 224-43. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2008.01.002.

Boyd discusses a study of online and hybrid first-year composition courses and student perceptions of how much they learned in each format. As a way to promote learner-centered education (LCE) in online and hybrid formats, Boyd developed a survey that studies students’ perceptions of their interactions with their peers, their instructor, and the technology, and the impact of each of these on what the students learned in the course. This survey was completed by 179 students in nineteen sections of hybrid and online first-year composition courses. The survey found that instructors must be intentional about online course design, and they should explain the purpose of assignments and how these connect to the learning objectives for the course. Such intentionality promotes LCE in online and hybrid environments. Additionally, instructors valued the interactions between students, but data suggests that while students liked interaction with peers, the instructor feedback was most important to them. Boyd suggests that instructor-to-student interactions promote LCE over student-to-student interactions, but both are vital to student success in the online/hybrid writing class. Additionally, by building a community of learners through online discussion, students become the immediate audience and support one another as co-constructors of knowledge.

Keywords: student perceptions, first-year composition, hybrid, interaction, student-to-student interaction, surveys

OWI Principles: 4, 11, 15

Boyd, Patricia Webb. “Online Discussion Boards as Identity Workspaces: Building Professional Identities in Online Writing Classes.” Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, no. 4, Dec. 2013,

Boyd argues that online business writing classes should focus on professional writing practices as opposed to learning to write professionally, emphasizing critical identity production and reflection. The article compares two academic writing assignments: 1) Writers and Identity to Professional Writing and 2) Personal Brand. The goal is to get students to engage in online discussion board interactions as they produce a document for a social network. Boyd presents the idea of identity workspaces focused on social defenses, sentient communities, and rites of passage. These dynamic spaces enable students to develop as professionals through their writing. Boyd asserts that the two assignments under discussion teach students how to professionalize themselves by reflecting on the creation of their own professional identities and learning how professionals write as well as how they create themselves as professionals. Students’ awareness of themselves as professionals through online discussion is a unique way of building community as a learning tool and a pre-professional training tool. These online identity workspaces support the co-creation of knowledge among this professional learning community in online business classes.

Keywords: business writing, technical and professional writing, identity, learning communities

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11


Boynton, Linda. “When the Class Bell Stops Ringing: The Achievements and Challenges of Teaching Online First-Year Composition.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 29, no. 3, 2002, pp. 298-311.

Boyton provides a narrative account of the ways in which moving from face-to-face to online writing instruction hearkened back to her insecurities as a new teacher. She found herself surprised by the challenges of moving a writing class online. The article aligns her achievements and their corresponding challenges, including 1) the achievement of being pushed to learn new things coupled with the challenge of redefining previous roles and responsibilities, 2) the achievement of discussing what constitutes good teaching coupled with the undercurrent of “us vs. them” embedded in those discussions, 3) the achievement of partnering more closely with students coupled with the challenge of surrendering authority, 4) the achievement of increased teachable moments that come with the extended contact with online students coupled with the challenge of the increased time commitment that online writing instruction requires, and 5) the achievement of inviting an increased “spectrum” of students to participate coupled with the challenge that those students may not succeed in the online modality. Boyton concludes her article with a story of choosing to teach online one online class at a time and a call for all online instructors to be continually reflective in developing online pedagogies that keep students at the center of the online classroom.

Keywords: narrative, identity, reflection

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 10, 11

Brady, Laura. “Fault Lines in the Terrain of Distance Education.” Computers and Composition, special issue, Distance Education: Promises and Perils of Teaching and Learning Online, vol. 18, no. 4, 2001, pp. 347-58. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/S8755-4615(01)00067-6.

Brady defines the “two goals—enhancing learning and reducing the cost of instruction” as the “fault line” of distance education (348). She uses this metaphor to review crucial points along the fault line. At the “surface” are courses that move online and then back to face-to-face classrooms due to technology access problems, students’ answering “not applicable” when assessing the teachers’ roles in the online classroom, and retention issues. Deeper ideological issues are also at play, particularly the “fault line between educational ideals and educational realities” (353). In particular, distance education exposes and exacerbates the commodity of the course hour and how students access and instructors labor intersect with issues of access and the political realities of teaching and technology. Brady concludes with a call to be aware that those who have the greatest access to the technology necessary to take an online class are more than likely those who already possess the income and education to not need additional access to education. While this article was written at a time that technology was less ubiquitous, the political and power dynamics of this article are still at play in online classes and programs.

Keywords: retention, power, distance education, teaching with technology: English

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 11

Breuch, Lee-Ann Kastman. “Enhancing Online Collaboration: Virtual Peer Review in the Writing Classroom.” Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood Publishing, 2005, pp. 141-56.

Breuch identifies the ways in which face-to-face peer review is both the same as and differs from online peer review. Commonalities include the assumptions that writing is a social act and that writing is a process. The differences in peer review involve space, time, and interaction. Asynchronous technologies for peer review require that students participate in peer review at both different locations and different times, and this fact affects how the students interact in both positive and negative ways. Breuch provides concrete steps to help facilitate peer review for brainstorming, providing reader response, and addressing strengths and weaknesses in the writing. This perspective on peer review demonstrates how similarities and differences in peer review between face-to-face and online environments can lead to equal or more productive experience and calls for additional research to deal with accessibility.

Keywords: tutoring: English, writing process, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 14

Brunk-Chavez, Beth, and Shawn J. Miller. “Decentered, Disconnected, and Digitized: The Importance of Shared Space.” Kairos, vol. 1, no. 2, 2006,

This pilot study supports the creation of a shared space in which students can create common or shared experiences for collaborative learning in an online setting. Students and instructors from three hybrid courses and three face-to-face courses responded to beginning- and end-of-course surveys.  While the findings are not generalizable, they suggest it is important to consciously design spaces that support true collaborative learning or learning that happens when knowledge is co-created simultaneously by participants and the teacher.  The tools of online learning and the course design must be critically examined to determine if true collaborative learning is taking place within a course.  Some technological tools may appear to be collaborative such as an online discussion board.  However, the way a tool is utilized determines if it is really forming a collaborative experience.  OWI benefits from careful examinations of the intersection of rhetorical online practices and the implementation of specific online tools.

Keywords: collaboration, course and program design: English, pedagogy: English, surveys

OWI Principles: 4, 11, 15

Buckley, Joanne. “The Invisible Audience and the Disembodied Voice: Online Teaching and the Loss of Body Image. Computers and Composition, vol. 14, no. 2, 1997, pp. 179–87.

Buckley’s article begins with her history of teaching literature as a woman with cerebral palsy. Although she had taught in the classroom for fourteen years (at the time of this article) she states that her six years of teaching online classes have been “the most experimental, fruitful, and often the most intimate work I have done, mainly because I feel freed from the real--and perceived--constraints of my physical body” (179). Buckley provides a history of physical disabilities in the postsecondary classroom and then highlights her own negative experiences teaching in a face-to-face classroom. The article then details what she sees as the benefits of teaching online, particularly for writing and literature classes, in terms of how students and teachers benefit from the transmission of ideas in writing through computers. She concludes with a call for further research into both “students’ and teachers’ perceptions of themselves online” (186).

Keywords: literature, disability studies, accessibility, student perceptions

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 11

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

Carter, Joyce Locke, and Rebecca Rickly. “Mind the Gap(s): Modeling Space in Online Education.” Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood Publishing, 2005, pp. 123-39.

Carter and Rickly identify a variety of gaps in online education and theorizes that identifying and addressing these gaps can help instructors to build stronger online writing classrooms. Gaps in online education include physical gaps (the space between the physical learners in the class), virtual gaps (the spaces between representations of physical learning elements in a class), and cognitive gaps (involving learning styles, personality styles, gender, preparation and aptitude). The chapter makes comparisons between these gaps and Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance and Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and demonstrates how different classroom configurations support at-risk learners in online classrooms. Finally, the chapter provides concrete guidelines for preparation, communication, and context that will assist online writing instructors as they develop and facilitate courses that “mind the gaps.” This theory of online course construction and management provides a lens through which instructors might consider their online classrooms and assist them in designing classes that prepare students not only for the virtual academy but also for the world beyond that academy.

Keywords: course and program design: English, at-risk students, instructional design

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 5, 11, 12

Carter, Lorraine M., and Ellen Rukholm. “A Study of Critical Thinking, Teacher–Student Interaction, and Discipline-Specific Writing in an Online Educational Setting for Registered Nurses.” The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, vol. 39, no. 3, 2008, pp. 133-38.

In their qualitative study, Carter and Rukholm analyze student writing activity in an online course for evidence of critical thinking. Their findings suggest that high levels of critical thinking by nurse learners can be developed in an online setting. They looked at two bulletin board posts, using John’s Model of Structured Reflection (1995) to identify four different kinds of thinking: 1) aesthetic, 2) personal, 3) ethical, and 4) empirical.  They also examine student-teacher interactions and discipline-specific writing. They offer no comparison to onsite instruction and no argument that online is better or different, only that online instruction can be successful in teaching critical thinking.

Keywords: WID, discussion: WAC qualitative research
OWI Principles: 4, 11, 15

Cason, Jacqueline and Patricia Jenkins. “Adapting Instructional Documents to an Online Course Environment.” Online Education 2.0: Evolving, Adapting, and Reinventing Online Technical Communication, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie. Baywood Publishing, 2013, pp. 213-36.

Cason and Jenkins identify how online instructional materials need to include the types of cues and interrelationships that face-to-face instructors provide in physical classrooms as they hand out and discuss those materials. Creating and adapting instructional materials, what Cargile Cook (2005) defines as the presentational aspects of the online course, requires that instructors interrogate the inclusion of context and connectivity through a revised version of Pare and Smart’s concept of “genre,” or patterns of regularity across textual features, composing practices, reading practices, and social roles (216-217). The authors “interrogate” a general education course, English 213: Writing in the Social and Natural Sciences, using this model to demonstrate how each of the four features is evident in the three stages of moving course materials from face-to-face to online: 1) the replacement practice, 2) the sequential learning unit, and 3) the multimodal turn. The authors encourage faculty moving to or revising materials online to consider a similar heuristic for understanding their roles and presence in online assignments in order to work within and, when necessary, outside of the technologies imposed upon them by institutions, such as a standard learning management system (LMS). The chapter provides a means by which faculty seeking to develop or refine their online classes might do so effectively by designing learning materials using multimedia components that better integrate the presentational aspects of face-to-face courses into online spaces.

Keywords: course and program design: English, multimodal, genre, instructional design, course management system,

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 5, 11

Chan, Mei Yuit, and Ngee Thai Yap. “Encouraging Participation in Public Discourse through Online Writing in ESL Instruction.” The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies, vol. 16, no. 2, 2010, pp. 115-39.

Chan and Yap identify challenges to ESL students when instructors construct projects that involve socially-driven writing and engagement in civic awareness in online settings. In particular, the authors indicate two specific challenges that face ESL learners as they encounter public writing tasks in online classrooms: 1) ESL students must be familiar with English and comfortable writing in English, and 2) some ESL students are not comfortable communicating in the public sphere (119-120). The authors’ study “examined the extent to which the use of an online discussion board as part of a university ESL writing course requirement served to encourage ESL student towards participation in public discourse” (121). The online students (n=1400) were required to write at least 200 word discussion board posts over the course of a ten week online writing class. The students were then surveyed to “identify their perceptions on their English writing skills development, their confidence to write in public in English, the effect of audience on their writing, the value they place on participation in online discussion, and reasons for their intention to participate or not participate in future online discussions” (124). Survey results indicated that online ESL students appreciated the value of online forums, and the researchers concluded that online writing for ESL students was valuable and that “ESL writing instruction harness the benefits of public writing, and . . . contribute to the empowerment of students to enter into public discourse in the global community” (135). This research demonstrates the need for online writing faculty to engage ESL in online discussion activities in order to both build their English skills and their confidence in writing to real-world audiences.

Keywords: ESL, ELL, multilingual writers, surveys, agency

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

Chandler, Sally W. et al. “On the Bright Side of the Screen: Material-World Interactions Surrounding the Socialization of Outsiders to Digital Spaces.” Computers and Composition, vol. 24, no. 3, 2007, pp. 346-64. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2007.05.007.

Sally Chandler, Joshua Burnett and Jacklyn Lopez contribute to research that examines how “outsiders” resist Internet discourses shaped by a western perspective. Their ethnographic case study explores how those outside of discourse communities enter those communities. First, they provide a history of research on how individuals acclimated to new communities. They then investigate “how mindset differences affect teaching and learning when students and teachers are from different digital generations” (350).  The study extends strategies used by gamers to initiate an “outsider” named Sally, a digital immigrant, into the world of gaming. The authors provide concrete examples of the discourse that surrounded Sally’s acclimation to the gaming culture, suggesting that these strategies can be used by instructors to help students who are “cultural outsiders” engage in classrooms and writing centers. In particular, the authors recommend that online writing instructors and online peer tutors, “help students to seek out, create, and enhance effective support” by “emphasizing the importance of self-directed, peer-supported learning, validating learners’ needs to connect to learning practices they bring to the new community, acknowledging the difficulty and importance of making shifts in mindsets, and alerting students to the discomfort and frustration they may encounter” (362-363). This article provides a set of strategies for bridging the gaps between the language and learning strategies that novice writers use in online worlds and the language and learning strategies that will help them be successful in the online writing classroom.

Keywords: tutoring: English, gamification, online writing centers, ethnography

OWI Principles: 1, 11, 13, 14, 15

Choi, Jessie. “Online Peer Discourse in a Writing Classroom.” International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, vol. 26, no. 2, 2014, pp. 217-31,

Choi outlines a study that addressed three research questions: “1) What types of online discourse appeared in the peer review process of a writing classroom with Hong Kong ESL undergraduates? 2) What is the role of explicit instructions and training for producing quality online peer discourse? and 3) What are the important elements that facilitate the production of quality online peer discourse?” (220). Participants in the study (n=27) were students in a Bachelor of Education program in Early Childhood Education in Hong Kong. Students participated in a writing assignment on a Blackboard wiki and were then asked to peer-review the content of their peers’ drafts both before and after they received specific instruction in the peer review process. The researcher then did content analysis to analyze whether students “showed a greater awareness of making quality comments than they did prior to taking the training and instructions on peer review” (221). Results indicated that students benefited from explicit peer review training, from evaluating their peer reviews, and from careful organization of groups. This study helps both blended and online instructors understand how to better facilitate peer review groups who work collaboratively online.

Keywords: peer review, collaboration, ELL, ESL, multilingual Writers, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 10, 11, 15

Cody, Jim. “Asynchronous Online Discussion Forums: Going Vibrantly Beyond the Shadow of the Syllabus.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 30, no. 3, 2003, pp. 268-76.

Cody studies how “online discussion forums uniquely contribute to the teaching and learning of community college students” (269). He first describes his research writing class, and then provides an overview of the LMS, WebCT. Cody sees a number of benefits in the online discussion forums in his class, including 1) the ability of the discussion forums to continue and build on the excitement of face-to-face class discussions and 2) the opportunity to bring “guest lecturers” into class for asynchronous discussions. The article ends with encouragement to use the tools available at an instructor’s home institution and to consider the possibilities of expanding class expertise in “many, sometimes unexpected, directions” (276). This article demonstrates one way that LMSs were used at the turn of the 21st century as writing instructors hybridized face-to-face courses.

Keywords: discussion: English, course management systems

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Comer, Denise K., et al. “Writing to Learn and Learning to Write Across the Disciplines: Peer-to-Peer Writing in Introductory-Level MOOCs.” International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, vol. 15, no. 5, 2014, pp. 26-82.

Comer et al. describe how peer-to-peer interactions enhance understanding, linking course learning objectives to positively contribute to students’ learning. They developed a coding protocol to best interpret peer feedback and discussion threads, including posts and comments, and concluded that 1) online discussion board forums intentionally linked to course content contribute positively to learning gains and 2) feedback on peers’ writing can meaningfully focus on higher order concerns across multiple disciplines. This research specifically targeted peer-to-peer interactions as adding value and increasing learning in the online environment where the concept of “community” is challenged.

Keywords: MOOCs, WAC, empirical research, quantitative research, discussion: English, peer review, student-to-student interaction

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 6, 11, 15

Condon, Conna, and Raul Valverde. “Increasing Critical Thinking in Web-Based Graduate Management Courses.” Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, vol. 13, 2014, pp. 177-91.

Condon and Valverde found that students who were participating in a graduate-level online accounting and operations management course were producing summaries of their assigned readings rather than composing critically engaged responses for discussion board posts. To understand this problem, faculty theorized that students may not have the same cultural writing processes that teachers expected, or that students who came from professional fields might not have been exposed to critical thinking strategies. To learn effective practices for encouraging critical thinking skills, researchers turned to the types of questions that were asked of students in their Discussion Questions (DQ) and surmised that they were not asking students to “exhibit analytical thinking.” Reframing the questions was not enough to elicit work that “included analysis or synthesis.” Thus researchers set out to answer whether “the DQ process from design through implementation and grading [could] be improved to increase the achievement of learning objectives and critical thinking in online class forum asynchronous?” (179) To do so, researchers compared a pilot course and original course in which they used mixed-methodologies (comparative case study, discussion question development, and writing quality development) to analyze responses to discussion questions. Condon and Valverde conclude that “ongoing content analysis could be used to identify whether any specific DQ was achieving the level of critical thinking intended for that DQ, as may vary by DQ type.” (188)

Keywords: discussion: WAC, graduate classes, empirical research, case study, mixed methods,

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

Coppola, Nancy W. “Changing Roles for Online Teachers of Technical Communication.”  Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood Publishing, 2005, pp. 89-99.

Coppola reviews literature establishing a variety of roles for online technical communication teachers. Cognitive roles involve constructing environments for students to learn and master content knowledge. Affective roles focus on developing environments that foster and sustain communication. Managerial roles involve designing environments where tasks can be planned and completed effectively. Coppola argues that for face-to-face writing instructors moving to online classes, understanding the similarities and differences in these roles will help them to manage that transition. This work provides an overview of different teaching perspectives regarding online classes and adds to the conversation surrounding how faculty can manage their personae in the classroom in order to build effective online classes.

Keywords: technical and professional writing, instructional design, collaboration, instructor interaction

OWI Principles: 5, 11, 12

Cox, Stephanie, et al. “Promoting Teacher Presence: Strategies for Effective and Efficient Feedback to Student Writing Online.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 42, no. 4, 2015, pp. 376-91.

In this essay, Cox et al. argue that online teachers of writing courses must consciously choose particular feedback methods that remedy an inherent drawback—namely the lack of teacher presence—of an asynchronous learning environment that in traditional face-to-face courses prevents evaluation from being perceived as harsh, impersonal, or dismissive. They examine how instructors can achieve a social, cognitive, and teaching presence in their online courses by considering the tenets of the Community of Inquiry (COI) model. They argue that online instructors must consider the purpose of feedback, the effects of different delivery methods, and how these relate to teacher workload and satisfaction. The authors thoroughly examine feedback methods for both informal and formal writing, including how each method fosters a sense of teacher presence in online courses. Drawing upon their collective experience, they discuss the benefits and drawbacks of individual feedback, generalized group feedback, and no feedback for informal writing, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of using rubrics, in-text comments, holistic end comments, synchronous conferences, and audio responses as feedback methods for formal writing. The authors conclude that feedback that communicates to their students not only their subject expertise but also their teacher presence is one of the most effective tools in creating a successful learning environment at the disposal of instructors of online writing courses.

Keywords:  feedback, instructor interaction, community of inquiry, assessment

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 12

Cunningham, Jennifer M. “Mechanizing People and Pedagogy: Establishing Social Presence in the Online Classroom.” Online Learning, vol. 19, no. 3, 2015, pp. 34-47.

Cunningham applies the Community of Inquiry (COI) framework as a lens for understanding the perceived effectiveness of using avatars in an online classroom to create social presence. Voki—free, online, customizable avatars—were investigated as one potential means for establishing social presence. Students in seven sections of a prerequisite composition class at a community college were surveyed. Out of 140 students, forty completed a questionnaire that included three open-ended questions asking about their overall experience relative to social presence as well whether social presence was established using Voki specifically. Analyzing the open-ended question responses using content analysis informed by grounded theory, results suggested that Voki avatars had little effect on creating social presence. Receiving instructor emails and feedback as well as direct interpersonal communication with peers (i.e., a group project and peer workshops) was found to establish the most social presence. Adding to previous COI research, this research suggests three specific practices that best establish social presence: (1) an active instructor presence, (2) interactivity among students, and (3) the timeliness or immediacy of both.

Keywords: community of inquiry, instructor presence, qualitative research, feedback, email, student-to-student interaction

OWI Principles: 4, 11, 15

Davis, Dan. “The Paperless Classroom: E-Filing and E-Valuating Students’ Work in English Composition.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 30, no. 2, 2002, pp. 162-76.

Davis describes how he implemented a paperless classroom conducted with a course management system (CMS) in a hybrid setting that uses technology-enhanced in-class activities as well as technology out of class in the form of email, online quizzes, e-conferences, and synchronous chat. While he acknowledges that technology can be a “diversionary tactic employed by frustrated teachers” (164) that gets in the way of learning, Davis reports on a business communication course for working adult professionals wherein technology made possible “an efficient and concise method for storing and evaluating papers and communicating with students” (163). While Davis does not argue that digital responses to student writing necessarily leads to better writing, he indicates that this medium allows for a clearer and more orderly space in which to respond, and that the students thereby benefit. This article is a useful historical document that outlines the concerns and benefits of the transition from fully face-to-face to hybrid classes partially hosted in an CMS.

Keywords: course management system, hybrid, email, synchronous interaction

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 10, 11

Davis, Evan, and Sarah Hardy. “Teaching Writing in the Space of Blackboard.” Computers and Composition Online, Spring 2003,

Davis and Hardy use Blackboard 1.5 to discuss shifts from the space of the physical classroom to the “space” of the virtual classroom, applying the theories of Michel Foucault, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Michel de Certeau to the then new virtual discussion boards and applications of the digital classroom. The webtext first provides an overview of the literal space of Blackboard 1.5. It then uses Foucault’s concept of the panopticon to illuminate how in the “contained space of the course management system . . . the disciplining of the student occurs,” thus altering the power dynamics in the classroom. Bakhtin’s concept of dialogue manifests in several ways in Blackboard, both in ways that restrain speech and in ways that encourage dialogue and remove hierarchies. The authors apply de Certeau’s concepts of “strategies” and “tactics” for navigating physical space to the virtual space of Blackboard, saying “If we understand Blackboard as a space that is comparable to a city, then what we are looking for is not a map of that city so much as a story of how a student moves through it.” In conclusion, the authors provide a list of thirteen ways that faculty can fully use this LMS to support students in developing community, engaging discussion, and fighting the binaries of power that Blackboard imposes. This web text, while written about a very early version of Blackboard, is still useful for the instructor who seeks to push the boundaries of the LMS and more fully incorporate democratic students encounters.

Keywords: course management system, discussion: English, Blackboard, power
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 10, 11

de Montes, L. E. Sujo , et al. “Power, Language, and Identity: Voices from an Online Course.” Computers and Composition, vol. 19, no. 3, 2002, pp. 251-71.

L.E. Sujo de Montes, Sally M.Oran and Elizabeth M. Willis analyze the role of race in online class discussions. In particular, the authors “apply theoretical frames of constructivism, symbolic interactionism, and critical theory [to] reveal issues of power and racism in student communications” (252), in particular, student communications centered around a disagreement on a course bulletin board that demonstrated “differing views of power, ethnicity and identity between majority and minority students” (252). The authors used inductive qualitative data analysis to study twenty-five students in a foundations course for a master’s degree who all had ESL students. The article includes narratives from the three researchers and an overview of the events that lead to the three encounters and associated events that were included in the study. The researchers talked about how the classroom discourse helped to demonstrate how ethnic identity for the students was presented in empowering and in less-empowering ways. They conclude with a reminder for online writing instructors not to “turn a blind eye on race, ethnicity, and power [that] denies minority students the conversations and confrontations critical for ethnic identity development” (268).  The article ends with actions that will help constructivist teachers to use critical reflection to interrogate their own issues surrounding power, language, and identity.

Keywords: power, constructivism, qualitative research, ESL, ELL, multilingual writers, culturally responsive pedagogy, race, graduate education

OWI Principles: 1, 11, 15

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, and Susan K. Miller-Cochran. “Social Networking in a Second Language: Engaging Multiple Literate Practices Through Identity Composition.” Inventing Identities in Second Language Writing, edited by Michelle Cox et al., National Council of Teachers of English, 2009, pp. 273-95.

DePew and Miller-Cochran seek to learn how social media writers, specifically those whom are multilingual writers, compose their identity in these spaces. To this end, the authors study three advanced multilingual students—from Thailand, India, and Belarus—who were using an array of social media—Facebook, hi5, Orkut, and Odnoklassniki. They asked them to give a virtual tour of their profile pages. From these three students, the authors learn that the students are often making deliberate decisions about how they use verbal language, images, and video to present themselves, yet they make some decisions because they think the outcome “will be cool.” The participants also described a conflicted relationship with their audiences in which they wanted to protect themselves from unwanted audiences (i.e., not all of these social media sites provided privacy setting for their users) but barely regulated what they wanted to post based upon their audience. Overall these students demonstrate advanced levels of rhetorical sophistication, similar to writing instructors’ expectations for academic prose. For DePew and Miller-Cochran these participants’ practices raise more questions about multilingual writers composing using social media, especially whether their social media composing practices reflect the same literacy practice for multilingual developmental writers. This chapter can help online writing instructors design strategies for helping multilingual students use backwards reaching transfer to connect familiar multimodal literacy practices with those they want students to use in their courses.

Keywords: ESL, ELL, multilingual writers, case study, audience, multimodal, literacy, social media, course and program design: English

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

DePew, Kevin E., et. al. “Getting Past Our Assumptions About Web 2.0 and Community Building: How to Design Research-Based Literacy Pedagogy.” Emerging Pedagogies in the Networked Knowledge Society: Practices Integrating Social Media and Globalization, edited by Marohang Limbu and Binod Gurung, IGI Global, 2013, pp. 120-43.

DePew et al. interrogate the general promises certain vendors make that their technological applications or pedagogical designs will create community among students, especially in online writing instruction courses. Because the outcomes for achieving community are rarely defined, the authors question whether community can actually be created in online classrooms and, if so, how instructors can leverage a technology’s affordances to achieve their articulated outcomes for community. The authors theoretically reflect upon a “Community Analysis” assignment in which students are given the opportunity to create community by reading and responding to each other’s blog entries on the textual research they are doing. At the end of the research blog assignment students use the course readings on community to argue in the “Community Analysis” whether the students in the course had become a community or not. The authors learned that many of the students in the class felt a sense of community, but the blog assignment did little to facilitate it. Of the twelve students in the class, only seven of them commented on the blogs or commented on others’ comments ten times or more for the five blog entries. Over half of the total blog comments or responses to others’ comments were written in the last week of the blog assignment presumably in anticipation of “Community Analysis” assignment. This led many of the pre-service and in-service students to conclude that comment posts should be required after each blog entry was posted. While this requirement raises a question as to whether the students can truly be a community if they are compelled to interact with each other, the substantive interaction among those posts suggest that instructional motivations can be the catalyst students need to truly engage each other. Although the students did not feel a sense of community from the blog assignment and the blog’s affordances, many described feeling a sense of community resulting from how they used the affordances of other technologies in the class, such as the chat function on the synchronous video meeting application or the audio editing application that a group of students were piloting. The authors conclude that a deliberate approach to design online writing curriculum might entail collecting and studying data from how students are interacting in one’s class.

Keywords: community, blog, course management systems, qualitative research, discussion: English, synchronous interaction, course and program design: English, audio

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11, 15

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

Ekahitanond, Visara. “Students’ Perception and Behavior of Academic Integrity: A Case Study of a Writing Forum Activity.” Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, vol. 15, no. 4, 2014, pp. 150-61. DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Journals, doi:10.17718/tojde.55218.

This article researches students’ behavior and perception of academic integrity in an online discussion forum. Ekahitanond expresses concern about the authenticity of student responses in online learning environments and how instructors can adjust teaching methods to better address this concern. After participating in a written discussion forum, students were given an initial questionnaire to measure their perception of academic integrity and record their experience violating this policy. An interview was further conducted to investigate the reasons for dishonesty. Findings suggest that students do not have a clear understanding of academic misconduct, leading them to acts of plagiarism or collusion. Ekahitanond concludes that instructors should clearly inform students of the rules for good writing and what explicitly constitutes academic integrity. While not explicitly about OWI, this article demonstrates the need to be explicit when addressing academic integrity when creating and facilitating online writing courses.

Keywords: plagiarism, student perceptions, surveys

OWI Principles:  10, 11, 15

Faigley, Lester. “Subverting the Electronic Workbook: Teaching Writing Using Networked Computers.” The Writing Teacher as Researcher, edited by Donald A. Daiker and Max Morenberg, Boynton, 1990, pp. 290-311.

Faigley provides an overview of an early networked classroom (1988) as one of the first versions of  an online discussion board used in a computer-mediated classroom. The students discussed a literary work the class, and the article provides a transcript of that discussion to demonstrate how discussion boards challenge the teacher’s control in an online setting. The transcript demonstrates that, unlike in traditional face-to-face discussions, instructors become students, or at least equal participants, in the online discussion board. He argues that student anonymity regarding gender is greater in the online discussion board and that closure does not need to be as artificial as it can be in the traditional face-to-face discussion. Faigley’s work addresses some of the early benefits and difficulties of implementing networked discussion boards, and while some of the data is only anecdotal, provides an early perspective on how discussion boards will challenge faculty authority in the online classroom.

Keywords: networked classrooms, discussions: English, gender

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11


Ferganchick-Neufang, Julia K. “Harassment On-line: Considerations for Women & Webbed Pedagogy.” Kairos, vol. 2, no. 2, 1997,

Ferganchick-Neufang acknowledges the benefits of writing on the web to support student writing and to democratize the classroom, but she warns that we should not ignore problems that online instruction can create for women and people of color.  She focuses specifically on the issue of student-to-teacher harassment by first discussing a previous study on student-to-teacher harassment of women instructors in the traditional, face-to-face classroom. Despite being in positions of authority within the classroom, female instructors who responded to the survey for the study relayed incidents of sexual harassment and threats of violence from male students. The author warns that despite notions of computer-mediated instruction creating egalitarian spaces and discourses, the dangers female instructors can face in the traditional classroom are still present in online environments. She points to the exclusion of women in the fields of computer technology and virtual reality and discusses the real and perceived differences in computer expertise of men and women, which could hurt the ethos of a female instructor wanting to teach with computers. The author then points out that the opportunity for anonymity online may encourage the participation of some students to be aggressive or hostile. She provides the transcript from a MOO used in a class to demonstrate this point, noting that harassment through writing, like harassment that occurs over email or in virtual reality environments, is often ignored or brushed aside. This harassment is real, and female instructors should have administrative support when they are harassed in virtual environments. The article concludes with suggestions for addressing these concerns, including 1) not obscuring these difficulties by focusing too much on the positive possibilities of web pedagogy, 2) training students in netiquette, 3) creating disruptive behavior policies appropriate for web environments, and 4) opening up channels of communication regarding this issue. Though dated, this article provides an important perspective on issues and challenges that OWI instructors, particularly female instructors, might face.

Keywords: gender, race, surveys, qualitative research, email,

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 10, 11, 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

Fleckenstein, Kristie S. “Faceless Students, Virtual Places: Emergence and Communal Accountability in Online Classrooms.” Computers and Composition, vol. 22, no. 2, 2005, pp. 149-76. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2005.02.003.

Fleckenstein highlights through concrete examples the difficulty of maintaining “communal accountability,” defined as “the reciprocal commitment among individuals to act in ways that promote the evolution and health of their interconnections online as is typical in face-to-face classrooms,” in online first-year composition classrooms (150). She argues that a complex-systems approach will allow for a language that honors both the sophistication of interactions in the online classroom as well as the individual activities that “comes into existence through . . . transactivity” or the transformative interaction that causes each element to change and become part of a larger entity (154). She outlines the challenges, including attendance for small group meetings, and describes in detail how the complex-systems approach gives us a new language and clearer understanding of the dynamics of place in online classes, one that goes beyond the initial attraction that students have to be able to be both in their homes and in their classes at the same time. Fleckenstein recommends that instructors in online courses should 1) “increas[ing] students’ opportunities to share language by offering multiple environments with multiple ways to link to each other,” 2) “reconfigure the online classroom is to open multiple chat windows,” and 3) “institute at the beginning of a semester a stop word, such as “stop,” that any student can use when the discussion careens out of control” (167). Overall, Fleckenstein calls for online instructors to be more cognizant of the ways that actions they take influence the ecology of the class, both positively and negatively.

Keywords: community, collaboration, first-year composition, discussion: English

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Ford, Michele. “Preparing Students for Assessment in the On-Line Class.” New Directions for Teaching and Learning, vol. 2002, issue 91, Fall 2002, pp. 77–82.

Ford suggests the need to explain to students what standards will be used for classroom assessment in online courses. Because online students might struggle to understand course concepts and assessments, Ford suggests using email and web postings for communicating assessment expectations. In addition, Ford provides suggestions for creating a sound syllabus, clear and robust rubrics, and a student-centered environment. This article reminder online faculty that redundancy is in online classes is essential to enhance student understanding and provides a brief overview of sound online course design that has been expanded by other scholars.

Keywords: assessment, feedback, course and program design: English, email

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Gerrard, Lisa. “Feminist Research in Computers and Composition.” Computers in the Composition Classroom, edited by Michelle Sidler et al., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007, pp. 377-400.

This chapter sets an agenda for research of the association of computers with masculinity and how this can impact female students and how computers can both support and challenge feminist pedagogy. The author first considers how cultural associations with computers and computer technologies like video games often provide males more access to and experience with computers than females and how these different experiences could make female students reticent about computer-mediated instruction and learning. She suggests we need to understand the attitudes and experiences of students with these technologies. She then looks at how computers could support feminist pedagogies, focusing specifically on the internet as a place to share experiences which she suggests supports the consciousness-raising goal of feminist methodology. She shows, however, that studies have demonstrated conflicting results of whether female students did freely express their feelings in online settings and calls for further attention to how web spaces can encourage students to be open about their experiences. The author also advocates further research into how computer technology can be utilized to support the feminist goal of democratizing the classroom. Other potential areas of future research presented by the author include examining gendered experience of aggressive discourse online and testing assumptions about gendered learning styles and gendered writing and rhetorical styles within the computer-based classroom. Finally, the author calls for research into gender dynamics within the field of computers and composition studies itself. This chapter enumerates several areas of research for those interested in OWI and gender, many of which have been largely left unexplored currently within the field.

Keywords: gender, computer-mediated communication, research, gender, critical pedagogy

OWI Principles: 11, 15

Gillam, Ken, and Shannon R. Wooden. “Re-embodying Online Composition: Ecologies of Writing in Unreal Time and Space.” Computers and Composition, vol. 30, no. 1, Mar. 2013, pp.  24-36. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2012.11.001.

Gillam and Wooden draw on Marilyn Cooper’s ecological theories of composition to describing a multi-step assignment approach to online first-year composition pedagogy. They acknowledge that, compared to face-to-face collaborative interaction, it can be difficult for students to develop and express online personalities. They illustrate how to make peer groups central to online learning through using discussion boards and e-mail to work through a carefully scaffolded sequence of assignments to move students through several layers of ecological interaction: from individual considerations, to inclusion in their small group through email, to larger considerations involving the whole class through discussion boards..

Keywords: first-year composition, course and program design: English, collaboration, discussion: English, scaffolding, email

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Goodfellow, Robin, and Mary R. Lea. “Supporting Writing for Assessment in Online Learning.” Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, vol. 30, no. 3, 2005, pp. 261-71.

This paper illustrates research conducted in the Open University’s MA, an Online and Distance Education Programme in the United Kingdom, one where distance students interact with a tutor who provides written assessment of their work. Goodfellow and Lea suggest that online discussion board interactions are commonly seen as representative pieces of student writing that are often used in assessment practices in terms of measuring student participation on the course; however, the authors argue that these writings should be viewed as written rhetorical practices in their own right and not just as indicators of social presence. When interviewing non-native and native speakers in the programme, the authors found that the non-native students perceived themselves as being at a disadvantage when participating in conference-type discussion boards because they took longer to respond than native speakers, and often, by the time they did post, the discussion had moved on. In addition, the students felt as though the tutors’ comments on their writing in these spaces did not take into consideration the complexities of joining the online forums as non-native speakers. To increase non-native speakers’ success in the programme, the authors designed “eWrite,” a repository of resources that attempted to provide the student view of writing issues by highlighting students’ personal accounts of working within an online course, orienting themselves to academic study, and learning “Anglo-American academic communication conventions” (268). The space allows for students and tutors to comment on the writing and the issues of social interaction raised within the documents in eWrite. The authors suggest that the new program helps raise both student and tutor awareness of “academic writing as social practice and the consequence of this raised awareness for the development of student writers and the diversity of the texts they produce” (268); the new software can also help make the needs of linguistically and culturally diverse students more explicit, which can ultimately aid in student production of written work, as well as within instructor assessment of the work these students produce in discussion boards.

Keywords: assessment, tutors: English, collaboration, discussion: English, feedback, student-to-student interaction, teaching with technology: English, ELL, ESL, multilingual writers

OWI Principles: 1, 6, 10, 11, 13

Grant-Davie, Keith. “An Assignment Too Far: Reflecting Critically on Internships in an Online Master’s Program.” Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood Publishing, 2005, pp. 219-27.

Grant-Davie provides a description of an internship assignment developed for online students in Utah State’s online master’s program in technical writing, identifies problematic language in the assignment construction, and identifies ways in which the internship assignment was strengthened based on feedback from students and colleagues. Complications with the assignment centered around the need for those completing the internship to have a foundation of scholarly knowledge that might best be developed in a seminar rather than in individual student work with faculty. This chapter demonstrates the importance of praxis in online education and the need for faculty to examine how they communicate with online writing students in assignment descriptions and the importance of receiving formative feedback.

Keywords: internships, praxis, graduate programs, reflection, instructional design, technical and professional writing

OWI Principles: 3, 11

Griffin, June, and Deborah Minter. “The Rise of the Online Writing Classroom: Reflecting on the Material Conditions of College Composition Teaching.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 65, no.1, 2013, pp. 140-61.

Drawing on results of the 2012 survey of online instructors conducted by the CCCC Committee on Best Practices in Online Writing Instruction (OWI), Griffin and Minter address opportunities for student literacy learning and collaboration provided by emerging technologies. At the same time, they point to the challenges of access for many students, including those who are English language learners, economically disadvantaged, or physically disabled. For faculty, the OWI survey results emphasize the need for workload compensation, class size limits, and training in technological tools and online pedagogy. Griffin and Minter observe that the information available within online courses offers an opportunity for data comparisons across institutions that may lead to better assessment of online teaching quality.

Keywords: accessibility, faculty workload, course caps, faculty development, surveys, ELL, ESL, multilingual writers

OWI Principles: 1, 7, 11, 12

Guanwardena, Charlotte N., and Frank J. Zittle. “Social Presence as a Predictor of Satisfaction Within a Computer-Mediated Conferencing Environment.” American Journal of Distance Education, vol. 11, no. 3, 1997, pp. 8-26.

Gunawardena and Zittle argue that social presence is a “strong predictor” of student satisfaction in a distance education setting. To determine this, the authors conducted a study to determine how social presence affects student satisfaction within a computer conference environment. According to Gunawardena and Zittle, many studies have examined the influence of social presence in face-to-face classes, but few studies explore this influence in the online domain. Fifty graduate students from five universities participated in this 1993 study that was based on an inter-university computer conference that offered a forum for graduate students to discuss their experiences with distance education. They completed a questionnaire to assess their opinions towards computer-mediated communication (CMC), the conference, and theoretical factors perceived to impact CMC. This study is relevant to OWI instructors because it establishes the significance of instructors using varied methods to communicate and teach online students to enhance the social presence of the course. Essentially, online faculty need to adapt to the online domain by developing communication skills that are best-suited for online teaching, which vary from the skills that are known to work face-to-face.

Keywords: instructor interaction, graduate students, computer-mediated communication, distance education,

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Guglielmo, Letizi. “Feminist Online Writing Courses: Civic Rhetoric, Community Action, and Student Success.” Computers and Composition Online, Spring 2009,

This article discusses the impact of feminist course design on the development of community, the decentering of the virtual classroom, and student success and retention in online first-year writing courses. Guglielmo first examines the scholarship regarding technology in the traditional classroom and the loss of social aspects in online learning environments when shifting from a teacher-centered classroom to a student-centered classroom. She then defines feminist teaching and learning spaces through several pedagogical sources. Her study involved two sections of online writing and research where each section was asked to introduce themselves, discuss and provide netiquette in forum, and answer a set of questions throughout the course of the semester. Guglielmo concludes that students felt involved in shaping the course and felt they were responsible for their learning. The article concludes with future considerations in expanding opportunities for student collaboration and participation, while fostering co-teaching among students in online courses.

Keywords: student engagement, gender, community, retention, first-year composition, pedagogy: English, collaboration

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11


Hailey, David E., et al. “Online Education Horror Stories Worthy of Halloween: A Short List of Problems and Solutions in Online Instruction.” Computers and Composition, special issue Distance Education: Promises and Perils of Teaching and Learning Online, vol. 18, no. 4, 2001, pp. 387-97. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/S8755-4615(01)00070-6.

David Hailey, Keith Grant-Davie, and Christine A. Hult address the potential “volatility” of the online classroom as instructors who are not prepared fully for teaching online are hijacked by students whose online attacks can threaten the instructors’ careers. Using concrete examples from online classrooms, the authors problem issues, such as inappropriate behavior, inappropriate collaborations, unteachable moments, and inappropriate channels for complaint, can subvert learning in the online classroom (388-391). The article describes why “flame wars” can derail an online discussion as “the combined effects of not having to look the audience in the eye, yet being able to compose and deliver an informal message to them within minutes or even seconds, may explain people’s tendency to suspend politeness and flame each other in online discussions” (393). Hailey et al. conclude the article with suggestions for instructors (including frequent email communication with students who are struggling and frequent presence in online discussion forums and other interactive areas of the class) and administrators dealing with issues of hostility in online classes.

Keywords: student perceptions, faculty satisfaction, discussion: English, email

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Handayani, Nani Sri. “Emerging Roles In Scripted Online Collaborative Writing In Higher Education Context.” Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 67, Dec. 2012, 370-79. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.11.340.

Handayani’s study investigates students’ competencies in completing collaborative written assignments following what he calls a “script,” which is defined as “a series of instructions prescribing how students should form groups, how they should interact and collaborate, and how they should solve [a] problem” (371). The researcher used a multiple case study design with eighteen students in an Introduction to the Learning Sciences class at the University of Sydney. Data was collected from recorded face-to-face group sessions, from online discussion spaces, and from in-depth semi-structured interviews with the participants. The results indicated that while each group included members who evolved into particular group roles, the script was interpreted differently than what the researcher had intended. The three groups had varying levels of participation, which led Handayani to conclude that due to the variation in group work among the members, “it may be necessary to increase the role of the teacher during collaboration or to structure collaboration more strictly” (378). This research reinforces the need for faculty participation in hybrid or blended group projects and provides research into how blended groups operate when provided a specific plan of action for a group project.

Keywords: collaboration, discussion: English, case study, qualitative research, interviews, instructor interaction, hybrid, mixed methods

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 10, 11, 15

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

Harris, Leslie D., and  Cynthia A. Wambeam. “The Internet-Based Composition Classroom: A Study in Pedagogy.” Computers and Composition, vol. 13, no. 3, 1996, pp. 353–71.

Harris and Wambeam describe an early version of an online course in which students connected students synchronously through a MOO and asynchronously through an email list. The article is a report on the design and pilot study of an online environment that connected first-year composition classes in Pennsylvania and Wyoming. Through this connection, Harris and Wambeam support the critical thinking and persuasive skills that are a part of the classrooms built around social constructionism. The article builds a body of theory on building playful communities in writing courses and then moves to a description of the pilot study, a mixed methods study of students’ internet journals and MOO meetings along with a pre-and post-test and questionnaires in order to measure whether “students improved as writers, but also whether computer-mediated discussions contributed to or helped foster their improvement” (360). Their results were that the experimental internet-based classroom was more effective in improving student writing. Harris and Wambeam conclude with an invitation for others to participate in similar classrooms to encourage active participation in writing classrooms.

Keywords: MOO, community, discussion: English, synchronous interaction, asynchronous interaction, mixed methods, qualitative research, first-year composition, social constructionism

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 15

Harris, Muriel. “Using Computers to Expand the Role of Writing Centers.” Electronic Communication Across the Curriculum, edited by Donna Reiss et al., National Council of Teachers of English, 1998, pp. 3-16.

An early discussion Online Writing Labs (OWLs), this chapter discusses the value of developing a central online site (hosting a variety of Internet communication platforms) for achieving the mission of university writing centers. Starting with how a tutoring session might go with and without access to an OWL, Harris recounts many other features and functions of various OWLs, especially the Purdue OWL. In particular, she examines how OWLs can serve as hubs for distance collaboration, as repositories for student and instructor resources, and as highly visible channels for outreach to developing writers across the globe and across the educational spectrum. Harris notes, however, that there are many institutional challenges to establishing a successful OWL, not the least of which includes acquiring funding for trained personnel who can develop and maintain the site’s writing resources within ever-changing electronic environments.

Keywords: online writing labs, writing centers, online resources, collaboration, WAC, tutoring: English

OWI Principles: 11, 13, 14


Hawisher, Gail E. “Electronic Meetings of the Minds: Research, Electronic Conferences, and Composition Studies.” Re-imagining Computers and Composition: Teaching and Research in the Virtual Age, edited by Gail E. Hawisher and Paul LeBlanc. Boynton/Cook, 1992, 81-101.

Hawisher surveys what was at the time a small body of research on the electronic conference or “computer-mediated communication” (synchronous and asynchronous) in the composition class. Previewing many preoccupations of the research that has since emerged on online writing instruction, Hawisher points to the potential benefits of electronic conferences—including emphasis on writing, expanded ideas of audience, sense of community, high level of involvement, equitable participation, and decentering of authority—as well drawbacks—including flaming, communication anxiety, sensory overload, and replication of problems in traditional classrooms. In reviewing the research on electronic writing classes, Hawisher emphasizes the connection between the kinds of communication foregrounded by electronic writing pedagogy and compositionists’ increasing emphasis on social theories of writing.

Keywords: computer-mediated communication, synchronous interaction, asynchronous interaction, audience, community, student engagement, pedagogy: English, social constructionism

OWI principles: 3, 4, 11

Hawisher, Gail, and Michael A. Pemberton. “Writing Across the Curriculum Encounters Asynchronous Learning Networks.” Electronic Communication Across the Curriculum, edited by Donna Reiss et al., National Council of Teachers of English, 1998, pp. 17-39.

Hawisher and Pemberton recount their exploration of Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALNs) within three different courses in a WAC program, as well as for the purposes of conducting online writing workshops. The project was funded by a Sloan Foundation grant to study the use of such networks for “‘on or near campus’ learning” (18) and not primarily for online-only learning. The authors were particularly interested in examining what might happen when ALNs and WAC courses  come together. Brief examinations of ALN exchanges were used to show successes and shortcomings in assignment design and learner engagement as manifested in students’ electronic interactions. The authors concluded that ALN assignment designers should take into account already-recognized effective practices for WAC coursework, referencing Fulwiler. Moreover, Hawisher and Pemberton emphasize the importance of making students “accountable” for participation in order to ensure engagement in the online activities (36).

Keywords: asynchronous interaction, WAC, asynchronous learning networks, writing-to-learn, writing centers, student engagement

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Hawisher, Gail E., and Cynthia L. Selfe, editors. Passions, Pedagogies, and 21st Century Technologies. Utah State UP, 1999.

Hawisher and Selfe compile one of the seminal collections dealing with technology use in the field of writing studies. The chapters in this collection investigate how “teaching and research are inherently social and political activities” (2) and that the collaborations that technologies promote among teachers and researchers encourage us to “share the important stories of teaching” and “reflect in critical ways on the work and profession that we share” (3). The collection is divided into four parts: 1) Refiguring Notions of Literacy in an Electronic World, 2) Revisiting Notions of Teaching and Access in an Electronic Age, 3) Ethical and Feminist Concerns in an Electronic World, and 4) Searching for Notions of our Postmodern Literate Selves in an Electronic World. This collection, while not explicitly about online writing instruction, brings together key players in the worlds of digital rhetoric and computer-mediated instruction to voice the concerns and promises that technology brought to the turn-of-the-21st-century writing studies world.

Keywords: collaboration, teaching with technology: English, literacy, accessibility, gender, identity, computer-mediated classrooms

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 11

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., 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

Hoven, Debra, and Agnieszka Palalas. “(Re)Conceptualizing Design Approaches for Mobile Language Learning.” CALICO Journal, vol. 28, no. 3, 2011, pp. 699–720.

Although not about OWI, this study of Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL) in a hybrid English for Special Purposes (ESP) course addresses the theoretical grounds and operational models for developing online support programs. The development of resources intended to be accessed primarily from mobile devices outside onsite facilities is presented as a Design-Based Research (DBR) project, that is, as an iterative, evolving, and multi-disciplinary program for conceptualizing and improving educational technologies. The article focuses on an early stage in this research program wherein the authors determined that students volunteering to try the resources generally responded favorably to having access to downloadable instructional podcasts and videos at any time during their busy schedules. While these students also improved their scores on a standardized ESP test, this pilot study was not able to connect the improved performance directly to the use of the MALL tools.

Keywords: online support, mobile,  non-traditional students, English for special purposes

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 6, 11

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

Hubbard, Danica. “Using a Blog Throughout a Research Writing Course.” OWI Open Resource, Conference on College Composition and Communication,

In this article, Hubbard explains that a student blog is one method for implementing OWI Principle 3, “Appropriate composition teaching/learning strategies should be developed for the unique features of the online instructional environment.” In Hubbard’s first-year research writing course, students begin their blog on the learning management system with an introductory post. Later,  students use their blogs to post their ongoing research and to share difficulties and successes with the research process. Hubbard points out that a blog can take the place of a research journal or portfolio used in a face-to-face classroom, noting that it can help contribute to a “Community of Inquiry” in the online writing course. Hubbard offers several tips for implementing blogs: 1) creating a rubric, 2) assigning credit for posts, 3) encouraging brevity and informality, and 4) emphasizing “digital citizenship” or student support of each other’s work.

Keywords: blogs, course management system, research writing, community, first-year writing, community of inquiry, assignment: English

OWI Principles: 3, 11


Johnson, E. Janet, and Karen Card. “The Effects of Instructor and Student Immediacy Behaviors in Writing Improvement and Course Satisfaction in a Web-based Undergraduate Course.” MountainRise, vol. 4, no. 2, 2008, pp. 2-21, index.php/MtnRise/article/view/81.

This study suggests that “temporal immediacy,” defined as timely instructor and student response to emails and other interactions, can contribute to student success in the online classroom. Temporal immediacy can also include helpful feedback between instructors and peers combined with consistent guidelines. The authors advocate for dialogue between instructors and students that is reciprocal, cooperative, engaging, and supportive. In this study, the authors reviewed instructor-to-student and peer-to-peer interaction, finding that instructors’ use of immediacy had a direct impact on students’ motivation to learn. In turn, the students in the course modeled the behavior of the instructors when interacting with their peers in discussion boards and with their instructors when writing emails. The authors argue that temporal immediacy is even more important in the online classroom where the face-to-face element is removed.

Keywords: communication, collaboration, pedagogy: English, discussion: English, instructor interaction, student-to-student interaction, modeling, discussion boards, email

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Johnson, Genevieve Marie. “Synchronous and Asynchronous Text-based CMC in Educational Contexts: A Review of Recent Literature.” TechTrends, vol. 50, no.4, 2006, pp. 46-53.

Johnson reviews the educational research on synchronous and asynchronous text-based computer-mediated communication (CMC) for their relative pedagogical strengths and weaknesses. She weighs the pros and cons of each in relation to online discussions, student achievement and satisfaction, and instructional viability. Johnson offers recommendations for using the best of both modalities, because studies indicate that a selective combination of both leads to higher student satisfaction and mastery of course materials. Johnson further claims that strategic combination of both approaches will more likely insure that educators will meet the needs of students with individual differences in cognition and personality.

Keywords: synchronous interaction, asynchronous interaction, computer-mediated communication, research, discussion: English, student satisfaction

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 11

Kear, Karen L. Online and Social Networking Communities: A Best Practice Guide for Educators, Routledge, 2010.

Kear’s guidebook provides a useful starting point for teachers and administrators new to online learning, providing basic definitions and discussions of associated teaching and learning theories and relevant computer-mediated communication and educational technologies. As the title suggests and the introductory chapter explains, the book primarily focuses on using communication technologies to build online learning communities, drawing on social constructivist approaches to learning. To support this discussion, numerous case studies are examined to illustrate the use of specific technologies for educational purposes, each presented in the course of explaining fundamental learning principles, practical instructional approaches, and potential challenge for online learning. Throughout the book, the benefits of online learning—including flexibility, convenience, and social connectivity—are reconciled with issues such as information overload, depersonalization, and interaction from a distance. While not explicitly about OWI this guide addresses a connection between the learning theories prevalent in OWI and how to build and support interaction in online writing classes.

Keywords: community, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction, learning theories, non-traditional students, writing program administration, theory, social constructivism, computer-mediated communication

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 11

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

Krause, Kerri-Lee. “Supporting First-Year Writing Development Online.” JGE: The Journal of General Education, vol. 55, no. 3-4, 2006, 201–20.

Focusing on first-year students in an entry-level behavioral science course, Krause studies their perceptions of their own writing skills as well as their evaluations of an online writing support program comprised of interactive tutorials. The survey on the program’s usefulness showed that the oldest demographic group (over 24 years) valued the online resource significantly more than younger groups, although the online program itself was generally perceived to help improve skills and reduce anxiety about writing. Even so, the participants generally “rejected the option of replacing face-to-face classes with an online resource such as the one under investigation” (215). Krause emphasizes the value of the results for understanding student perspectives of online tutorial resources, acknowledging problems with the study’s validity for positing how the tool may have actually altered students’ perception of their own writing (219). Although the opening justification for the study addresses community building, the conclusions noted above suggest such an online support program was viewed as contradistinctive to the “social interaction” characterizing face-to-face sessions (213). Academic socialization is discussed in the context of access based on the study’s analysis of the online program’s support of students reflecting different ages and routes to higher education. In this respect, the study shows how a flexible and simple self-paced tutorial system can provide non-traditional students a means to address concerns and anxieties about writing as they deem necessary—hence the discussion of “just-in-time” online learning (208). Finally, while the article briefly mentions relevant literacy studies, it is not clear how relevant composition pedagogy was integrated into the online tools.   

Keywords: non-traditional students, WAC, WID, online support, community, accessibility, composition pedagogy, students success

OWI Principles: 1, 6, 11, 13, 15

Kynard, Carmen. “‘Wanted: Some Black Long Distance [Writers]’: Blackboard Flava-Flavin and Other Afrodigital Experiences in the Classroom.” Computers and Composition, vol. 24, no. 3, 2007, pp. 329-45.

Kynard examines the digital communication of students of African descent in a predominantly black college in order to understand how the students construct their identities. Students “revocabularize” the academic setting to reconstruct knowledge about writing and about themselves. Kynard uses the metaphor of Flava Flav’s role in Public enemy to “bring light to the ways in which rhetorical practices of signifying constitute a culture/digitally unique type of spontaneous presence” (331). Kynard concludes with a discussion of his own vocabulary in the classroom and an analysis that places the students in reference to the work of John Oliver Killens. This article provides one of the most in-depth analyses of how students of African descent construct identity in Blackboard discussion boards and how online writing instructors might create spaces for empowering all writers.

Keywords: race, identity, rhetoric, culture, culturally responsive pedagogy, Blackboard, discussion: English, discussion boards

OWI Principle: 1, 11

Lang, Susan. “Replicating and Extending Dialogic Aspects of the Graduate Seminar in Distance Education.”  Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood, 2005, pp. 157-75.

Lang’s chapter outlines the rationale for and a method of facilitating synchronous online discussions as part of a graduate seminar. First, the chapter provides an overview of Von Krogh et al.’s four principles of good conversations: encouraging active (and balanced) participation, establishing conversational etiquette, editing conversations appropriately, and fostering innovative language. Then, it argues that asynchronous activities cannot replace the synchronous element of a graduate course because students need to participate in these elements of good conversations just as they would in a face-to-face class. The bulk of the chapter provides an extended case study of how synchronous class discussion is “an integral part” of the Texas Tech master’s degree in Technical Communication. This particular case study uses MOOs and addresses elements of faculty and student preparation, technical benefits and difficulties, and conversation dynamics in both main forums and back channels. This chapter provides a thorough description of the benefits and limitations of using synchronous discussion in graduate classes and serves a valuable introduction for faculty seeking to implement successful synchronous discussion in online graduate classes.

Keywords: graduate classes, graduate students, synchronous interaction, MOO, discussion: English, graduate programs, student preparation, instructor interaction, student-to-student interaction

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 7, 10, 11

Laurinen, Leena I., and Miika J. Marttunen. “Written Arguments and Collaborative Speech Acts in Practising the Argumentative Power of Language through Chat Debates.” Computers and Composition, vol. 24, no. 3, 2007, pp. 230-46.

Laurinen and Marttunen study argumentative student writing using student debates in an online chat forum. They examine both collaborative and non-collaborative writing by organizing chat responses into seven categories based on Baker’s “rainbow method”: 1) explore and deepen, 2) argumentation, 3) opinions, 4) task management, 5) interaction management, 6) social relations, and 7) outside activity (234). The authors find that a majority of speech acts in the debates can not be classified as argumentation. However, they note that many students engage in collaborative speech acts in the chat forum and desire to emotionally validate their classmates’ responses. The authors argue that chat debate forums can be useful to students as they use chat archives to reflect on their writing. The authors conclude that “the discourse used in schools should utilise and provide students with access to all the forms of language that have utility in knowledge work both for today and for the future” (244). This article is relevant to OWI because it considers one modality for teaching argumentation and demonstrates a method of using the online writing classroom as an archive of speech practices for students to analyze their own argumentation practices.

Keywords: collaboration, debate, chat, modality, argument: English

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Lo, Hao-Chang. “Design of Online Report Writing Based on Constructive and Cooperative Learning for a Course on Traditional General Physics Experiments.” Journal of Educational Technology and Society, vol. 16, no. 1, 2013, pp. 380-91.

This article reports on a study of wiki-based online report writing in physics experiments. The study focuses on fifty-eight undergraduates working in randomly-assigned groups of 2-3 individuals. The multi-method, quantitative and qualitative study collected data including questionnaires, interviews, online discussions, and student writing and instructor assessment of student writing. Study results indicated that students communicated more extensively with each other, students working online received higher scores than those writing in more traditional ways, and students and instructors responded favorably to the teaching and learning experience afforded by the wiki. The author concludes with recommendations for using computer-mediated communication through wikis to improve the social and cognitive teaching and learning experiences of both students and instructors of physics and a call for researchers to conduct similar studies. This article discusses how to apply appropriate pedagogical strategies to an online class and how to develop successful online communities for student success.

Keywords: wikis, WAC, WID, research, qualitative research, quantitative research, interviews, surveys, discussion: English, assessment, student-to-student interaction, computer-mediated communication, community

OWI Principles: 4, 11, 15

Mabrito, Mark. “Facilitating Interactivity in an Online Business Writing Course.” Business Communication Quarterly, vol. 64, no. 3, 2001, pp. 81-86.

Mabrito points to the importance of moving away from a presentation only style of online education to a collaborative online classroom.  Asynchronous discussion boards and synchronous virtual meeting spaces to create interactivity between students and content. Mabrito encourages student sharing of early writing drafts and a shared bibliography.  The class uses both ICQ and a shared web page URL for these tasks in an era before wide-scale use of packaged LMS products. Mabrito’s methods support the ongoing need for students to learn effective collaborative writing skills and the collaborative writing process because students will need these skills in the workplace.

Keywords: business writing, technical and professional writing, discussion board, interactivity, collaboration, discussion: English, writing process, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction, course management systems

OWI Principle 4, 11

McKee, Heidi A. “‘Always a Shadow of Hope’: Heteronormative Binaries in an Online Discussion of Sexuality and Sexual Orientation.” Computers and Composition, vol. 21, no. 3, Sept. 2004, pp. 315-40. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2004.05.002.

McKee’s article is based on working with face-to-face writing students who were asked to participate for an extended period of time in the Intercollegiate E-Democracy Project, an online discussion that covered a range of topics, including sexuality. The article first chronicles the literature regarding online discussions of homosexuality and then shifts to the need for her research that “situate[s] analyses of online discourse within the multiple perspectives of the participants who sent and received the messages” (320). She works with eleven students who provided the substance of their discussions and participated in interviews. She concludes that “heteronormative binaries can provide important catalysts for movement in students’ thinking about complex issues and that online spaces in particular are valuable forums for students to articulate and then complicate their understandings of issues relating to sexuality and sexual orientation” (318). Her article ends with an overview of some practical strategies for encouraging discourse around sexuality in online discussion boards. Her research and her conclusions would apply to blended courses that involve asynchronous discussion boards and demonstrate helpful, practical ways of setting up these discussions around sensitive topics such as gender and sexuality.

Keywords: gender, discussion: English, asynchronous interaction, research, accessibility, computer-mediated communication

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 11

Meloncon, Lisa, and Heidi Harris. “Preparing Students for OWI.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 411-38.

Trying to fill the void in understanding the issue of student preparation and success in online writing classes, Meloncon and Harris gather literature across fields and specific to OWI to provide a current portrait of what we know about student preparation for online courses. They then provide recommendations for preparing students for online writing classes at the institutional level and instructor level. Institutionally, the authors propose the following recommendations: 1) create orientation modules, 2) use existing data to identify student preparation for online writing classes, 3) cap class sizes, 4) provide training and paid support for faculty, and 5) increase support structures for students. Orientation modules should be created to help students understand what resources may be available as well as specific technology-related orientations to ensure students are prepared to use the technologies they will need to succeed in class. Also, existing data should be leveraged to help understand their student population and learning needs better. Class sizes should be “capped responsibly” with a recommendation of 20 students per course.  Finally, institutions should provide and fund training for OWI teachers and more support structures for students. Instructors need to incorporate accessible elements into the design of their courses, build community within the courses, and prepare students for the online experiences of their writing courses. The authors give examples of how instructors can achieve these recommendations. The chapter  includes an appendix, “Student Preparation Checklist,” that instructors can modify and easily add to their online courses to help better prepare students for their online writing experiences.

Keywords: student perception, student preparation, orientation, community, pedagogy: English, online resources, course and program design: English, accessibility, class caps

OWI Principles: 1, 4, 9, 10, 11, 13

Meloncon, Lisa, and Lora Arduser. “Communities of Practice Approach: A New Model for Online Course Development and Sustainability.” Online Education 2.0: Evolving, Adapting, and Reinventing Online Technical Communication, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood, 2013, pp. 73–90.

Meloncon and Arduser illustrate how the concept of a Community of Practice (CoP) supports technical writing faculty in the process of designing, assessing, and modifying online courses. While in-house faculty professional development opportunities tend to focus on how to use an LMS or how to convert face-to-face lectures and instruction to multimedia components, the authors needed training opportunities for more technologically advanced faculty who were interested in examples of successful student engagement in online classes. The CoP model allowed instructors who had a shared domain and identity to organize both formally and informally to share resources and participate in ongoing discussions of their practice. The article provides specific recommendations for establishing and sustaining a CoP, encouraging those interested to invite different levels of participation, open dialogues about teaching and learning, and to focus on the value of the CoP. This article provides a structure for faculty who might feel isolated in departments or programs without a strong online pedagogy focus and also provides a means of supplementing what may be insufficient institutional faculty development training.

Keywords: faculty development, course and program design: English, instructional design, community of practice, community online resources, multimedia

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 5, 7, 11

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

Miyazoe, Terumi, and Terry Anderson. “Anonymity in Blended Learning: Who Would You Like to Be?” Educational Technology and Society, vol. 14, no. 2, 2011, pp. 175-87.

Miyazoe and Anderson study the effect of anonymity in discussion forums and blogs in blended classrooms. In particular, the researchers asked three questions: “1) What are the participatory behaviors of students in face-to-face (with real names) and online (with pseudonyms) in blended course designs? 2) How did the students perceive and evaluate the different online writing tools using pseudonyms? and 3) What are the students’ learning outcomes?” (177). The study included sixty-three students taking English for Academic Purposes in a blended format. Students’ identities were concealed from both the other students and the instructor. The study used five data sources: 1) pre-/post-course English proficiency tests, 2) a paper-based survey regarding the students pseudonyms and online writing experiences, 3) semi-structured interviews on the course experience and pseudonym usage, 4) students’ writings on the LMS, and 5) attendance records of the students and teacher’s notes on class management (178). The researchers concluded that using pseudonyms in blended or hybrid courses were useful in increasing participation in classes, particularly among female students, and that “anonymity can be a crucial factor in increasing the amount of content and effort expended by EFL students” (184). This research helps faculty to better understand methods of encouraging EFL and gendered participation in online, hybrid, and blended classrooms.

Keywords: ELL, ESL, multilingual writers, discussion: English, hybrid, gender, identity, discussion boards, blogs, discussion: English, course management systems, faculty workload, student engagement

OWI Principles: 1, 11

Mongillo, Geraldine, and Hilary Wilder. “An Examination of At-Risk College Freshmen’s Expository Literacy Skills Using Interactive Online Writing Activities.” Journal of College Reading and Learning, vol. 42, no. 2, 2012, pp. 27-50.

Mongillo and Wilder’s study focused on at-risk college freshmens’ ability to read and write descriptive text using game-like, online expository writing activities. The research explored online expository literacy tasks that required the at-risk students to read and write descriptive text for the purpose of having peers guess an object or subject. The findings suggest that these online activities improved at-risk students’ expository literacy skills in the categories of description of prominent features and word choice. When writing in an online environment, writers should not only select appropriate words but also know their audience. By reading their peers’ responses to their own writing, participants were exposed to diverse and varying viewpoints, which may have helped them to better understand their audience and their own writing. Mongillo and Wilder note that at-risk readers often disengage when presented with expository text, yet the authors know that many of them are proficient users of technology, utilizing the Internet for information when necessary. The researchers used Blackboard to facilitate their game-like activity, and the participants reported that the LMS was easy to use. However, not all students have access to computers, and as some participants reported, the platform is not always reliable. The authors’ research concluded that future research is needed to determine if the activities used in this study can serve as a lens to examine students’ reading and writing behaviors and strategies.

Keywords: at-risk students, gamification, audience, student engagement, Blackboard, course management system, reading, literacy, grammar & style

OWI Principles:  1, 3, 4, 11, 15

Moore, Jensen, and Khristen Jones. “The Journalism Writing Course: Evaluation of Hybrid versus Online Grammar Instruction.” Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, vol. 70, no. 1, 2015, pp. 6-25.

Moore and Jones conducted a study comparing a hybrid grammar course with an online grammar course. The hybrid course structure teaches grammar skills in online modules while more difficult concepts are taught in the classroom. Blending flexibility of online classes with the face-to-face interaction of traditional classes creates a more complex, beneficial learning environment. The authors’ study finds no significant difference in student performance between students enrolled in online and traditional classes, while hybrid classrooms demonstrate the best student results. Post-test scores for students enrolled in the hybrid courses were not dramatically different from those in the online or face-to-face classes. Overall, online and hybrid classrooms allow for more independent and self-directed learning. Students reported being more satisfied with the hybrid courses, but students’ abilities to learn and retain grammar concepts did not significantly differ among modalities. The authors conclude with a call for journalism teachers to spend in-class time working on higher-order journalism skills and using computer-mediated activities for grammar review.

Keywords:  hybrid, blended, grammar & style, student engagement, research, empirical research, modality, WAC, WID

OWI Principles:  3, 11

Morton-Standish, Leisa. “Using Online Media to Write Extended Persuasive Text.” The Reader Teacher, vol. 67, no. 6, 2014, pp. 419-29.

Given the increased demand by the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts (CCSS-ELA) for students to produce persuasive writing at all levels, Morton-Standish purports using the already familiar online environments to create and publish persuasive texts. Using students’ new literacies in digital technologies can create engaging, persuasive text within a multimodal environment. Morton-Standish explains how teachers can use online sources to create student ownership, do online research to support arguments, write for real-world audiences, and write collaboratively. Giving specific assignment examples and listing specific CCSS-ELA standards which will be met using these methods, this article explains specifically how digital technology empowers educators and student writing, enabling students to write extended persuasive digital texts. This article is useful to OWI by discussing the possibility of digital media instruction to teach K-12 Common Core writing concepts.

Keywords: literacy, Common Core, argument: English, multimodal, audiences, collaboration, English Language Arts

OWI Principle:  3, 4, 11

Murugaiah, Puvaneswary, and Siew Ming Thang. “Development of Interactive and Reflective Learning among Malaysian Online Distant Learners: An ESL Instructor’s Experience.” International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, vol. 11, no. 3, 2010, pp. 21-41. ERIC, ISSN: 1492-3831.

Murugaiah and Thang study how interactive and socially-constructed approaches to online writing instruction helped distance learners in English proficiency courses at a university in Malaysia. Murugaiah and Thang conducted action research focused on Salmon’s five-stage model for online activity development: 1) access and motivation, 2) socialization, 3) information exchange, 4) knowledge construction, and 5) individual development. The study outlines how the instructor implemented each stage of Salmon’s model and demonstrates how the instructor facilitated the students’ self-directed learning. The authors found that, while the instructor at times found it difficult to maintain a focus on student-engagement, the students who “actively participated in the given task appeared to have learnt [sic] to reflect and managed to apply it in improving their writing skills in English” (36). While they acknowledge that the study is limited and not widely generalizable, it does demonstrate that students gained valuable cognitive skills and an increased awareness of their own learning.

Keywords:  collaboration, student engagement, social constructionism, ELL, ESL, L2, multilingual writers, EFL, reflection

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 10, 11

Olson-Horswill, Laurie. “Online Writing Groups.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 30, no. 2, 2002, pp. 188-97.

Olson-Horswill argues that, if used well, “discussion forum technology connects online students in interactive, real-life writing groups,” with results that “can be even more interactive and personal than in a traditional classroom” (188). The article uses case methodology to study a freshman composition course. The course used the process model of reading, discussion, writing, writing groups, and writing workshops. Olson-Horswill concluded that once trust was established, online groups showed similar traits of face-to-face groups. In addition, because these groups were not bound by the space and time of the classroom nor governed by body language or facial expressions, they were even more connected through the genuine expression of their thoughts in writing. Olson-Horswill details the methods she uses in designing and facilitating the course and identifies student work that exemplifies the concepts she emphasizes in her online writing course.

Keywords: community, collaboration, discussion: english, discussion boards, case study, research, writing process, reading, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 15

Opdenacker, Liesbeth, and Luuk Van Waes. “Implementing an Open Process Approach to a Multilingual Online Writing Center: The Case of Calliope.” Computers and Composition, vol. 24, no. 3, 2007, pp. 247-65. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2007.05.003.

Opdenacker and Van Waes describe a multilingual online writing center called Calliope. They begin the article with a demonstration of why European online writing centers differ from American online writing centers while noting that there is a diverse range of OWCs across Europe as well. The authors describe how they “developed a new theoretical framework, based on a constructivist pedagogical approach, aimed at supporting both different learning profiles and writing processes” (248). Calliope is fully embedded into third year Strategic Business and Management Communication courses, blended courses where students both meet face-to-face and complete writing activities online through the online writing center. Students use three different tools in completing reflexive and reflective writing assignments based on case studies: 1) a feedback editor, which is “a Web-based application that supports giving and receiving feedback on written products in different stages of the writing process” (252); 2) Escribamos, which is “a Web-based application developed to support collaborative writing activities” (254); and 3) a portfolio tool in Blackboard that links to the OWC (256). In addition to integrating these three tools, the OWC allows different learner types as identified by Kolb to create their own pathways through the learning module to cover the three components of each unit: theory, practice, and a case study (257). Opdenacker and Van Waes end the article by briefly discussing how they designed Calliope and conclude with the next steps they are taking in the project. This article provides an alternative version of the traditional, American OWL that integrates specific writing instruction into courses across the disciplines.

Keywords: ELL, ESL, multilingual writers, online writing labs, hybrid, feedback, Blackboard, portfolio, course management systems, business writing, technical and professional writing, collaboration, modules, WID, WAC

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 6, 10, 11

Palmquist, Michael E. “Network-Supported Interaction in Two Writing Classrooms.” Computers and Composition, vol. 10, no. 4, 1993, pp.  25-57.

Palmquist recounts an early empirical study of two asynchronous, computer-mediated composition classes to better understand the nature of the talk occurring in the online environment. He indicates that computer classrooms offer researchers an important tool for learning how student writers in peer groups address each other’s writing. The research, designed to answer whether and how networks have the ability to impact classroom content, he analyzes the conversations that students have in two classes. One is an information class where students independently researched topics of their own choices; the other is the argument class where students shared both a topic and a knowledge base. Palmquist’s findings suggest that students’ online discussions in the argument class revealed a stronger group cohesion and deeper critical skills, indicating that subject matter affects critical commentary in online peer groups.

Keywords: asynchronous interaction, computer-mediated classrooms, peer review, feedback, community, collaboration, networked classrooms

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Palmquist, Michael, et al. “Contrasts: Teaching and Learning About Writing in Traditional and Computer Classrooms.” Computers in the Composition Classroom: A Critical Sourcebook, edited by Michelle Sidler et al., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008, pp. 251-70.

Michael Palmquist, Kate Kiefer, James Hartvingsen, and Barbara Goodlew recount two empirical studies (the “Transitions Study” and the “New Teachers Study”) designed to assist educators as they cross boundaries between teaching in traditional and online settings. These studies, which compared classroom settings and student behaviors/attitudes over time, led to seven themes. First, differences in classroom settings impacted daily planning. Also, teachers adopted more “take charge” roles in the traditional setting and more decentralized roles in online settings. Palmquist et al. found that computer classroom students talked more often with teachers and that students used computer classrooms as a worksite, whereas traditional classroom students resisted writing activities. Teachers were able to transfer more successful activities from computer to traditional settings, and even when they believed in the pedagogical benefits, teachers who were less familiar with technology resisted using it. Finally, students in the two settings differed in their attitudes about writing, writing performance, previous writing instruction, and interaction.

Keywords: empirical research, research, instructor interaction, networked classrooms, computer-mediated instruction, pedagogy: English, student engagement, technology, teaching with technology: English

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 11

Peterson, Patricia Webb. “The Debate About Online Learning: Key Issues for Writing Teachers.” Computers and Composition, vol. 18, no. 4, 2001, pp. 359-70.

Peterson argues that, because the first-year composition course is so ubiquitous, writing teachers need to be more present in discussions about online writing courses. At the time of publication, Peterson notes that “most of the books and articles written about distance learning come from fields other than composition” (360). With this in mind, she attempts to create a map of the primary issues in online writing instruction that need further discussion. She first notes the tendency to “unbundle” course creation from delivery, and she outlines the history of the debate between online writing instruction as corporate training vs. online writing instruction as a humanistic endeavor. Next she focuses on concern about “what gets taught and how that content is consumed” (364). She cautions that online writing instructors should take a critical view of how technology is used in the service of learning. Finally, Peterson asks “How is student learning changed, bettered, or damaged by distance-learning courses?” (365). The debate between those who say that distance learning will be beneficial and those who find it harmful is outlined. She encourages in all three areas for the debate to go beyond the good/bad dichotomies so that we instead address a “complexity of the issues” (368) surrounding online distance education courses.

Keywords: composition, first-year composition, course and program design: English, teaching with technology: English, distance education

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Pickering, Kristin. “Developing Ethos in the WebCT Technical Communication Classroom: Diverse Voices.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 18, no. 2, 2009, pp. 166-87.

Drawing upon activity theory and Engeström’s triangle of human activity (1987), this article focuses on student ethos development within an online course environment as a way to highlight the individuality of students participating in online, social forums. After contextualizing the concepts of ethos and persona, the author presents foundational activity theory concepts and explains the theory’s value as an analytical tool for studying distributed learning environments. The author analyzes email messages and discussion board postings from two students in the same online course through a case study approach and applies the activity theory triangle to suggest ways these students developed their own unique ethos within the course. For one of these students, the ethos constructed resulted from social conflict that developed within the course during the semester, including dis-identification. The article concludes by discussing limitations of the study, summarizing the benefits of applying activity theory to distributed learning environments, and suggesting directions for future research.

Keywords: student engagement, assessment, discussion: English, discussion boards, case study, research, qualitative research, identity

OWI Principles:  3, 11, 15

Pittenger, Amy L., and Becky Olson-Kellogg. “Leveraging Learning Technologies for Collaborative Writing in an Online Pharmacotherapy Course.” Distance Education, vol. 33, no. 1, 2012, pp. 61-80.

Pittenger and Olson-Kellogg investigated a graduate-level nursing course to understand how online writing could help faculty understand how graduate students “collaboratively create written communications appropriate for different audiences, namely, for the students in this project, patients, and other members of the health-care team” and demonstrate content mastery (63-64). Fifty participants in the study were assigned complex problems that combined physical therapy situations with pharmacotherapy issues. The researchers asked the following questions: “1) To what extent does collaborative writing within a wiki effectively facilitate learning? 2) Is it feasible to use a completed hypertext document to demonstrate content mastery and health professional competency? and 3) How does working within a group, addressing interprofessional as well as a patient audience, impact professional identity development?” (68). Participants completed an entrance survey and course evaluation and participated in focus groups after the projects were completed. Pittenger and Olson-Kellogg found that students were initially reluctant to work in groups, but they found the experience to be valuable after the project was over. The respondents indicated that “the complexity of the learning format allowed them to take on the role of a physical therapist in addressing the entire patient, both in designing physical therapy recommendations within a pharmacotherapy context, but also communicating with multiple audiences as the physical therapist” (73) through activities that helped them develop their professional identities. This study is important for those interested in writing to learn across the disciplines and for reinforcing the importance of writing across the curriculum as programs outside writing studies seek to expand their online offerings.

Keywords: WAC, collaboration, graduate students, wikis, WID, surveys, evaluation, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 15

Poniatowski, Kelly. “Getting Students Ready to Write: An Experiment in Online Teaching and Learning.” Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, vol. 67, no. 2, 2012, pp. 120-33.

This case study in course design demonstrates the success of a required one-credit online grammar and writing mechanics course. Over five semesters, Poniatowski studied an online grammar course and a traditional face-to-face grammar course and found that the engaging nature of the online course through interactive tutorials and podcasts led to greater student satisfaction.  The author also saw what appeared to be a positive relationship between the online course and student learning.  Course design, access to a significant number of online tools, and the potential to interact with the instructor all played a role in the success of the online grammar course.  In this study, faculty perceptions indicated a belief that students were better prepared for later courses when this grammar course was used as a gateway course to more advanced studies.  OWI studies benefit from the ongoing study of course design, student perception, and student achievement in online writing and grammar classrooms.

Keywords:  interactivity, grammar & style, writing mechanics, course design, student perception, student satisfaction, instructor interaction, WAC, WID, faculty perception

OWI Principle 3, 11, 13, 15

Qiu, Mingzhu, et al. “Online Class Size, Note Reading, Note Writing and Collaborative Discourse.” International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, vol. 7, no. 3, 2012, pp. 423-42.

Mingshu Qiu, Jim Hewitt, and Claire Brett studied the “relationship between class size and note reading loads, note writing locas, and collaborative discussions in online graduate-level courses” (424). Because student participation and interaction are crucial to a successful online course, students can experience information overload in large online classes. Their researchers used a mixed-methods approach which demonstrated a positive correlation between class size and the number of notes that students read. However, “when the number of notes that students were meant to read increased beyond a certain point, the percentage of notes they actually read declined, mainly because of information overload” (429). Some students, when faced with more notes to write, chose to write more notes with more simple language. When asked about the instructor’s notes in discussions, students indicated that when instructors did not write enough notes, the students considered them “absent” (432). The researchers concluded that the ideal class size for online graduate classes was between 13 and 15 students; fewer students would lead to slow class discussions, and more students lead to information overload for both students and instructors. This study is important in demonstrating the correlation between class size and student performance in online classes.

Keywords: graduate classes, course caps, collaboration, discussion: English, reading, student engagement, student-to-student interaction, instructor interaction, research, mixed methods, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 9, 11, 12, 15

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

Rendahl, Merry, A. “It’s Not The Matrix: Thinking about Online Writing Instruction.” The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, vol. 42, no. 1, 2009, pp. 133-50.

Encouraging readers to think critically about the possibility of teaching online writing, Rendahl addresses inherent fears and ideological mis-steps that quickly surface for teachers without any experience in online teaching. Rendahl explains that distance is created by more than physical space, naming common classroom issues such as hot or noisy classrooms to personality traits that prevent students from speaking up in class. She also suggests a teacher’s theories about language and writing instruction will influence the online teaching methods, potentially humanizing the digital space or creating distance. Supporting the online writing environment, the author suggests online courses may actually give students a chance to focus more closely on textual analysis and writing production. This article supports OWI by challenging common negative assumptions about teaching online writing courses.

Keywords: online writing instruction, critical thinking: English

OWI Principle: 3, 4, 11

Rendahl, Merry, and Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch. “Toward a Complexity of Online Learning: Learners in Online First-Year Writing.” Computers and Composition, vol. 30, no. 4, Dec. 2013, pp. 297-314. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2013.10.002.

Rendahl and Kastman Breuch used a mixed-methods approach to answer the question, “What do students in an online first-year writing course perceive as good study habits, and what helps them succeed?” (298).  They used a case study research design to observe two sections of an online first-year writing (OFYW) course. They also used a student survey, statistics from the course management system, information from online discussions, online peer review session notes, and interviews with both students in the OFYW class and interviews with both instructors teaching the classes and students in the classes. They analyze this data through social cognitive theory, in particular the theories of Albert Bandura, in order to understand the complex dynamics of student choices and motivation in OFYW classes. Rendahl and Kastman Breuch found that, “Students ranked interactions with course content as a more frequent and more typical activity than interaction with the instructor, which was subsequently ranked as more frequent and more typical than interactions with other students” (306). Students who rated themselves highly on use of study time did not necessarily receive better scores than individuals who rated themselves moderately on those scales. Course structure was a significant external factor in students’ satisfaction with the course. Students who logged into the course early were more likely to successfully complete the course. The authors end the article by calling for researchers to revisit the place of participation in the online classroom and to further explore social cognitive learning theories for what they can tell us about student behavior in the online classroom. This study is useful for researchers attempting to identify internal and external student motivations in OFYW classes and provides a model study that could be replicated with different first-year-student populations.

Keywords: first-year writing, mixed methods, research, course management system, student preparation, case study, surveys, qualitative research, instructor interaction, student-to-student interaction, student engagement

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

Rubin, Lois. “‘I Just Think Maybe You Could . . .’: Peer Critiquing through Online Conversations.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 29, no. 4, 2002, pp. 382-92.

Rubin points to then-recent studies that demonstrate the benefits of peer review, including peer review using computers, to argue for why she prefers her students to do computer-mediated peer-review. She finds that peer-review done online lead to longer, more conversational, more robust commentary. The article outlines the various politeness techniques that her students used and the language that demonstrated that they believed themselves to be part of a group. Student surveys indicated that a majority of students in her three classes gave positive evaluations of computer-mediated critiquing. They indicated that the increased distance between themselves and the students they were critiquing helped them to focus on responding to the text and kept them from venturing into “off topic” conversations (389). Overall, Rubin concludes that the online critiques were “lively and personable” in contrast to the flat marginal comments of hand-written peer review.  

Keywords: peer review, computer-mediated communication, feedback, surveys, qualitative research

OWI principle: 11, 13, 14, 15

Sanderson-Cole, Karen, and Danielle Watson. “Academic Writing Within An Online Learning Environment: Assessing The Impact Of Peer Evaluation On Lesson Planning, Execution and Assessment.” Journal of International Education Research, vol. 9, no. 2, 2013, pp. 115-26.

In this study, Sanderson-Cole and Watson assess the impact of peer evaluation and collaboration among teachers of various sections of the online course English for Academic Purposes, a compulsory level one course for students entering the University of the West Indies. While the extent of peer evaluation in developed countries is mostly limited to addressing administrative tasks and providing technical frameworks for course development, the authors note that peer evaluation in developing countries, such as those in the Caribbean, lacks even these basic resources.  In their study, which consisted of teacher pairs assigned various activities to prepare content for delivery to English for Academic Purposes, Sanderson-Cole and Watson examine whether teacher pairing results in greater standardization of course content, the impact on standardization of approaches to learning, and the extent to which collaboration results in new strategies for improving student learning in an online environment.  Based on their findings, the authors conclude that peer collaboration enhances the learning environment through identification of specific areas that need improvement in course delivery both in general and in individual practice. Furthermore, the authors conclude that peer collaboration is an effective tool for promoting self-reflection and is useful in terms of course planning among learning facilitators. The authors end with a call to further study peer evaluation in the face-to-face learning environment as a means to address territorialism and professional identity.  

Keywords: collaboration, peer review, reflection, English for Academic Purposes, research, qualitative research

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11, 15

Schneider, Suzanne P., and Clark G. Germann. “Technical Communication on the Web: A Profile of Learners and Learning Environments.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 1, 1999, pp. 37-48.

Schneider and Germann describe the results of their demographics study of students taking online courses at University of Colorado at Denver (CU-Denver) and Metropolitan State College of Denver (MSCD) and discuss how online learning may support adult learning practices. The authors examined three demographic areas of students enrolled in online courses: age, sex, and ethnicity. Their results demonstrated that students enrolled in online courses were on average older than students enrolled in face-to-face courses. At MSCD there was no significant enrollment difference between men and women, and at CU-Denver, a slightly higher percentage of women were taking online courses. The authors compare this finding to statistical data of general Internet usage of men and women. This data demonstrated that although a higher percentage of men than women used the Internet, this statistic does not seem to impact women’s enrollment in online courses. Therefore, Internet use does not seem to be a barrier for women to enroll in online education. All of the ethnicity data from their study comes from MSCD, and the data demonstrated that significantly more White-Caucasian students enrolled in online courses than non-white students. The authors conclude from their demographic data that providing equal access to online education is an important and continuing issue. The authors then consider how the five characteristics of a learning environment best suited for adults presented by Kolb, Rubin, and Oswald could be met through online education. They discuss notions of reciprocity, experienced-based learning, personal application, and learning that is individualized and self-directed as well as that which integrates learning and living. The authors conclude with a discussion of the importance of an interactive learning environment and discuss how writing technologies, such as email, threaded discussions, and synchronous chat can support teacher-to-student and student-to-student interaction.

Keywords: nontraditional learners, adult learners, accessibility, technical and professional writing, gender, race, research, empirical research

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


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

Selber, Stuart. Multiliteracies for a Digital Age. Southern Illinois UP, 2004.

Selber’s seminal work offers a framework to structure writing classes and assignments that move students through three levels of multiliteracy: functional, critical, and rhetorical literacy. He argues that writing students and writing instructors should be a part of conversations about the technology that we use in classrooms, particularly in the design and implementation of that technology. The book argues that in order to be a literate user of technology in the 21st century, users must understand, question, and produce technology, including applications and software. Selber’s approach to the literacies that students need is aimed at addressing “one-way literacy models as a foundation for computer initiatives,”  wherein “many teachers of writing and communication simply transfer wholesale to the screen their existing assumptions, goals, and practices”(23). This book provides a framework for including digital literacies into online courses to help students become more functional users of computers and more critical and rhetorically savvy consumers and producers of digital text and applications.

Keywords: digital literacy, teaching with technology: English, critical pedagogy, rhetoric, course and program design: English

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 10, 11

Shih, Ru-Chu. “Can Web 2.0 Technology Assist College Students in Learning English Writing? Integrating ‘Facebook’ and Peer Assessment with Blended Learning.” Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 27, no. 5, 2011, pp. 829-45.

This article presents the findings of a study examining a writing course for first-year students at a technical university in Taiwan that used Facebook, peer assessment, and classroom instruction in a blended learning environment. For this course, students were required to post their writing assignments to Facebook, respond to each other’s writing via Facebook’s comment function, and then respond to each other’s feedback. For the study, twenty-three students were divided into three groups based on their National College Entrance Exam scores. Shih used both quantitative and qualitative methods to ascertain the perspective of students and the instructor about the class and changes in students writing as a result of the class.  Results of a pre- and post-test demonstrated improvement for all students, but particularly those who were in the lowest scoring group. Content analysis showed that those in the highest scoring group commented the most, most likely due to their higher competency with English. Shih found that many students used emoticons or the “like” button within Facebook to accompany their comments. Results of a survey given to students revealed moderate to high satisfaction with aspects of the course. Interviews with students corroborated these findings; students seemed to appreciate the opportunity to communicate with and receive feedback from their peers on Facebook. The instructor’s reflection suggested that a blended learning model relying on online peer assessment may actually require more time and effort for instructors. Shih concludes that the study supports the effectiveness of this course model and calls for future research with a larger sample of students.

Keywords: blended, social media, assessment, peer review, community, research, empirical research, ESL, EFL, ELL, L2, multilingual writers, accessibility, faculty workload, time management

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 8, 11, 12, 15

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

Simpson, Katherine. “Collaboration and Critical Thinking in Online English Courses.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 33, no. 4, 2006, pp. 421-29.

Simpson details her efforts with piloting an “online peer-tutoring program that included synchronous… and asynchronous discussion” (421). She encouraged the tutors to facilitate their own discussions, to coach students through the drafting process, and to act as guides for students in the learning process. She demonstrated success with the program in a number of ways, including student testimony, increased numbers of students completing the tutor training, and positive responses from students in regards to their confidence. She then reviews how she implemented an embedded tutor structure in her online first-year writing courses. She encouraged tutors and students to connect synchronously through a school resource called “Tapped In,” which students and tutors seemed willing to learn in order to connect with each other. Simpson provides examples of chat transcripts to demonstrate how students were able to work to develop critical thinking and research skills with the help of the embedded tutors. The article ends with Simpson encouraging other instructors to employ synchronous chat in their classes with the help of tutors when possible.

Keywords: online tutoring, discussion: English, writing process, tutor training, synchronous interaction, critical thinking: English, research writing, embedded tutors, two-year colleges

OWI Principles:  3, 11, 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

So, Lee, and Chung Hyun Lee. “A Case Study on the Effects of an L2 Writing Instructional Model for Blended Learning in Higher Education.” Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 12, no. 4, 2013, pp. 1-10,

L2 students in traditional onsite classes face many challenges in improving their writing, particularly those associated with time and guided practice. In response to these challenges, So and Lee designed a blended instructional model grounded in writing process theory that enabled students to interact with each other and each other’s drafts online. Doing so gave students more time to write and more opportunities to have their work reviewed by their peers and teacher before submitting the final draft and reflection. The instructional model mapped the five main stages of the writing process—prewriting, drafting, revising, revising and polishing, and reviewing—onto a blended model that started and ended in the onsite classroom. Students interacted with each other in both the onsite and online environments through the initial brainstorming session, two rounds of peer review, and the final assessment and reflection activities. Student learning was measured by language proficiency tests administered at the beginning, middle, and end stages of the semester. All of the participants’ writing improved, which So and Lee attribute to “the abundant opportunities to produce multiple drafts, the giving and receiving of feedback, and the explicit practicing of discrete writing components through guided writing exercises” (9). This study would be useful to OWI instructors, especially those who teach blended classes, as an example of how to sequence and support the stages of the writing process across multiple learning modalities.

Keywords: blended, L2, ELL, ESL, EFL, multilingual writers, writing process, interactivity, peer review, revision, empirical research, quantitative research, modality

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 7, 11, 15

Stacey, David, et al. “The New Distance Learning: Students, Teachers, and Texts in Cross-cultural Electronic Communication.” Computers and Composition, vol. 13, 1996, pp. 293–302.

David Stacey, Sharon Goodman, and Teresa D. Stubbs describe the collaboration among the three of them, with Stacey and Stubbs residing in Missouri and Goodman living in England. The authors detail the benefits of email for speeding correspondence and how the correspondence influenced Stacey’s advanced composition course by allowing students the opportunity to receive feedback on their assignments from someone in another culture via email. While this article is certainly dated and the conclusions that they reach about the benefits of internet communication seem archaic, this provides insight into how faculty and students used then new technologies to facilitate communication in ways that would form the foundation for fully online international classes.

Keywords: collaboration, email, composition, feedback, culture, computer-mediated communication

OWI Principles: 3, 11

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

Stella, Julia, and Michael Corry. “Teaching Writing in Online Distance Education: Supporting Student Success.” Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, vol. 16, no. 2, 2013,

Intervention is described as a counseling action that an instructor may use to support a student who struggles to work productively in an online writing course. Research about online students reveals that different types of students perform differently in online classes; essentially, some students need more support than others to be successful. Interventions may increase retention of course material and graduation rates at institutions as well as increase student and teacher satisfaction within the course. Stella and Corry state that equal access to education opportunities and successes is one of Sloan's five pillars of online success, and it is a major concern for educators nationwide. Students who struggle with online learning must have access to support and opportunities to develop the skills necessary to be successful in online classes. Researchers attribute student success in online courses to a wide variety of characteristics and circumstances such as academic subject, student personality traits, and student/instructor experience.  However, even students with variables in their favor occasionally struggle in online writing instruction courses, and the instructor is challenged to intervene and facilitate success. Learning to write efficiently and effectively is a crucial skill in the 21st century workplace, and the dramatic increase in online learning options means online writing courses have grown in popularity.  Overall, Stella and Corry’s research concludes that intervention is a powerful and crucial element of program structure and can be used to lessen transactional distance so that struggling students might find success in online writing courses.

Keywords: intervention, retention, student success, faculty satisfaction, online resources,

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 10, 11

Stine, Linda. “The Best of Both Worlds: Teaching Basic Writers in Class and Online.” Journal of Basic Writing, vol. 23, no. 2, 2004, pp. 49-69.

Stine identifies several problematic issues related to computers and word processing in basic writing pedagogy, noting that agreement on whether or not online instruction is appropriate for basic writers is even more difficult than the discussion about basic technologies in writing instruction. The author reviews her hybrid course by first raising some of the problems associated with teaching basic writers online, including accessibility issues, technology issues, and issues related to the homogenizing culture of online classes. Stein then turns to pedagogical concerns with online basic writing questions, in particular whether online courses provide enough contextual cues (and a discussion of whether those cues are inherently positive or negative) and challenges related to poor reading skills and self-motivation for online basic writers.  Stein identifies several benefits of online education for basic writers. Stine claims that shy or unheard students might find their voice in online discussions, the “real” nature of online writing that lend an automatic “ethos” to the online instructor, and the fact that many basic writing students might only be able to access online courses due to limitations of time and distance. Faculty can also use the affordances of digital technology to provide adult learners with additional resources. She states that, “Online courses, at least those that are well designed, force students to play an active role in the learning experience—posing questions, voicing opinions, engaging in discussions, spending as much time as necessary on weak areas, and self-testing their knowledge when and as appropriate” (57-58). After pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of online classes for basic writers, Stine concludes that  flexible approach based on student and instructor strengths and available institutional resources is the best method for reaching these writers.

Keywords: hybrid, developmental writing, reading, time management, identity, accessibility, adult learners, assessment

OWI Principles:  1, 3, 4, 11, 13

Stewart-McCoy, Michelle. ‘“Beautifying the Beast’: Customising Online Instruction in a Writing Course for Jamaican Tertiary-level Students.” SiSAL Journal, vol. 4, no. 3, 2013, pp. 157-74.

This article details the first two phases of a 4-phase research project that seeks to develop guidelines for the design of a customized online academic writing course in Jamaican tertiary schools. The project’s intention is to generate interest in online courses, maintain student engagement, and encourage self-directed learning. Stewart-McCoy describes the present challenges for the model, including students’ poor writing skills and discomfort with online courses. She then describes how she used “Design Based Research” (DBR) to develop address two research questions: “1) What are the learning characteristics and needs of students pursuing academic writing courses? and 2) What components are deemed relevant to spark students’ interest, ensure active participation and encourage self-direction in an online academic writing module?” (161-162). The researcher gathered information from “two content writing experts, one multimedia specialist, six academic writing lecturers and fifty-four academic writing students” through surveys and interviews (162). Based on an analysis of the students’ learning preferences, Stewart-McCoy designed an online class and provided a mockup of the course layout.  The final two phases, including a pilot course and two additional cycles of the course, were briefly detailed.

Keywords: student engagement, research, qualitative research, surveys, interviews, course and program design: English

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 10, 11, 15

Sullivan, Patrick. “Using the Internet to Teach Composition.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 28, no. 1, 2000, pp. 21-31.

Sullivan argues that using online discussion forums in computer-networked classrooms benefits the classroom in a number of ways, including “increasing student input, encouraging class discussion, and creating a collaborative learning environment” (21). The article outlines Sullivan’s process of designing his course and provides some sample questions and student replies to demonstrate the depth of discussion in those classes. The article argues that using discussion boards works because more students are encouraged to participate in discussion, students who are not naturally shy are not at a disadvantage, and the social dynamic of the class shifts as students are “free to eliminate or ignore many of the social/hierarchical cues that mark traditional exchanges” (25). Additional benefits include the writing-intensive nature of these discussions, the way the discussions prepare students for real-world online exchanges in the workplace, and how discussions encourage students to use their best writing. Sullivan ends by cautioning that the online discussions do not make teaching easier because they require skillful moderation and instructor presence. However, this additional work on the part of the instructor is worth the effort as student discussions are much richer.

Keywords: computer-mediated classrooms, networked classrooms, discussion: English, student engagement, discussion boards, composition, instructor interaction, time management

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11, 13, 14

Taffs, Kathryn H., and Julienne I. Holt. “Investigating Student Use and Value of e-Learning Resources to Develop Academic Writing within the Discipline of Environmental Science.” Journal of Geography in Higher Education, vol. 37, no. 4, 2013, pp. 500-14.

This article studies the value, quality, and effectiveness of e-learning resources to improve learning skills, specifically focusing on the discipline-specific skills required to complete an academic writing assignment in environmental sciences. Taffs details the background and methodology of the study, including the specific online resources that were developed to effectively address previously identified barriers to learning. Through the analysis of usage statistics and student questionnaires, Taffs argues that e-learning resources can be both useful and highly effective in the learning process as long as the resources are assignment-specific and are embedded directly into the curriculum.  The final conclusions of the study serve as a guide to future resource development to support flexible and engaged learning.

Keywords: WID, research, online resources, surveys, quantitative research

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 10, 11, 13, 15

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

Thomas, Sharon, et al. “Toward a Critical Theory of Technology and Writing.” Writing Center Journal, vol. 19, no. 1, 1998, pp. 73-86.

Sharon Thomas, Danielle DeVoss, and Mark Hara argue for bringing a critical theory of technology, one that acknowledges the cultural impact of the technology, into writing center practices. They note the tension in conflicting claims about the nature of online consulting. Some claim that online tutoring is radically different from traditional tutoring. Others claim that online tutoring is not much different if used well. The authors see the first claim as an instrumental theoretical approach and the second claim as a substantive approach. They describe their work based from the writing center to help teachers and students use technology to continue classroom-based discussions, to conduct Internet-based research, and to publish writing on the Web. This early text on online tutoring demonstrates the early, polarizing issues related with online writing instruction and online tutoring.

Keywords: online tutoring, theory, online writing center

OWI Principles:  3, 11, 14

Thompson, Riki, and Meredith J. Lee. “Talking with Students through Screencasting: Experimentations with Video Feedback to Improve Student Learning.” The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, no. 1,  2012,

In this article, Thompson and Lee explore the benefits of using screencasting software to deliver audio-visual feedback to students on written assignments. After briefly discussing how screencasting is used in the classroom for supplemental teaching, she explains the small study she and Lee conducted to survey students (n=32) regarding screencasting as a response medium. While the students were mostly positive about the screencast feedback, Thompson cautions that additional studies are necessary before drawing generalized conclusions on the effectiveness of screencasting with regard to improved learning and greater student engagement. However, the methods that Thompson and Lee outline for providing feedback are helpful for those considering providing screencast feedback or studying the efficacy of that feedback in their own classes.

Keywords: audio, feedback, video: English, assessment, research, qualitative research

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11, 12, 14, 15

Townsend, Jane S., and Allan Nail. "Response, Relationship, and Revision: Learning to Teach Writing in Asynchronous Contexts." Journal of Literacy and Technology, vol. 12, no. 3, 2011, pp. 51-85.

In this article, Townsend and Nail present the findings of a study of a writing mentorship program between pre-service teachers and high school students as part of the Online Writing Partnership. This article draws on a larger study examining this program, with the current study focusing on interviewing both the graduate student and high school student participants and analyzing artifacts from the experience, including high school students’ papers with feedback and the email correspondence between the partners. Townsend and Nail categorized the type of feedback offered by the graduate students and found that the majority were editing suggestions, despite the graduate students’ belief that they were helping students revise. Townsend and Nail suggest that even the graduate students do not fully understand or embrace the concept of revision. They suggest that these views are likely influenced by these pre-service teachers’ own experiences in the classroom. The other major theme from the study was the nature of online mentoring relationships. Many of the graduate students expressed a frustration with the lack of social presence in their online relationships. All communication was asynchronous, and many graduate participants reported feeling disconnected from their high school student partner. Despite this challenge, Townsend and Nail argue that experiences like the Online Writing Partnership are important for pre-service teachers, perhaps because of the discomfort, which provides an opportunity for growth and an opportunity to reflect on the function and form of effective feedback. From the results of the study, changes have been made to the Online Writing Partnership program to provide more opportunities for collaborative interactions and face-to-face meetings. The authors report that ongoing research is continuing on the program to assess this new blended learning model. The findings of this study on online mentoring demonstrates the importance of a sense of presence, relationship, and community in online learning.

Keywords: revision, mentoring, graduate students, email, feedback, teacher training, instructor interaction, asynchronous interaction, collaboration, blended, community

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


Tucker, Virginia M. “Listening for the Squeaky Wheel: Designing Distance Writing Program Assessment.” Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, vol. 15, no. 4, 2012,

In this article, Tucker examines the current form of assessment in distance writing programs and offers recommendations to improve these programs based upon these recommendations. Tucker uses Kim, Smith and Maeng’s 2008 distance education program assessment scheme to evaluate the assessment methods of the IDS-Professional Writing program at Old Dominion University. She uses syllabi from six courses ranging the disciplines required of the program: English, IDS, Computer Science, and Communication. Her findings show that the courses suffer from an imbalance of formative and summative assessments as well as team assessment and individual assessment. Tucker argues that these findings demonstrate that without using a variety of assessment tools in a balanced way, online writing programs fail to engage their students in a learning community and fail to evaluate their students’ skills in writing. In order to improve the assessment methods of these programs, Tucker recommends that writing programs implement an e-portfolio as a graduation requirement, seek greater balance in course assessment methods in order to more successfully evaluate students, and to review assessment methods as a means of continually examining the program’s ability to teach students.

Keywords: assessment, writing program administration, online writing programs, learning communities, technical and professional writing, portfolio

OWI Principles 3, 4, 11

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

Tuzi, Frank. “The Impact of E-Feedback on the Revisions of L2 Writers in an Academic Writing Course.” Computers and Composition, vol. 21, no. 2, 2004, pp. 217-35.

Tuzi argues that there are clear advantages for using electronic feedback (e-feedback) and oral feedback in first-year composition classroom. He studies the e-feedback of twenty L2 writers “in a natural setting that incorporated an emergent design and subjective data collection from human subjects in the form of interviews and observations…[and] statistical analysis and coding of the written drafts and responses” (222). Tuzi finds that e-feedback was more effective at encouraging changes at the sentence and paragraph levels, but e-feedback proves more beneficial than oral feedback in stimulating global revision. However, Tuzi argues that students enjoy oral feedback more and generally prefer that method. He concludes that e-feedback provides additional avenues for feedback but that L2 learners will benefit as much from feedback training as they will from providing feedback in a particular modality.

Keywords: feedback, orality, L2, ELL, ESL, multilingual writers, interviews, qualitative research, revision

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11, 15

Viti, Lynne Spigelmire. “Cybering Towards an Audience: Do Women Find a New/Different Voice in an Electronic Forum?” Kairos, vol. 6, no. 2, 2001,

The short article discusses the author’s experience having her composition students participate in the Intercollegiate Electronic Democracy Project (IEDP), which is a cross-college electronic forum where students from writing and writing-intensive course from fourteen colleges across the country can engage in conversations about politics and current affairs. The author suggests that the authentic audience of the forum pushed her all female class to better clarify, contextualize, and support their arguments in writing. She discusses the exchanges of two particular discussion threads, one on abortion and one on affirmative action, in detail to demonstrate how students had to navigate sharing their points to a diverse audience and following netiquette guidelines. She gives examples of students navigating heated discussions and taking what she call the “high road” in the face of inflammatory or sarcastic responses. She provides examples of students being motivated by “flaming” or attacking responses to further invest in their arguments and share their views on the forum. The article argues that this method of discussion engages students, particularly female students, in online conversations not only with those in the course, but those outside of it to provide an authentic, challenging audience that push students to improve their skills at crafting arguments.

Keywords: discussion board, gender, argument: English, student engagement

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11

Walker, Kristin. “Activity Theory and the Online Technical Communication Course: Assessing Quality in Undergraduate Instruction.”  Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood, 2005, pp. 207-18.

Walker assesses her online classes through the lens of activity theory in order to understand online classes as complex activity systems and to address potential complications and adapt to those complications in three specific areas: instruction, peer interaction, and researching. Paying attention to student messages about their difficulties with using various tools in the class can highlight cultural differences in how students interpret online classes as well as the assumptions that faculty make about how students will interact with technologies. In addition to student messages, faculty can consider how physical learning environments might help or hinder student participation and how student preparation for and cultural histories with learning might impact how they interact with and use technologies to complete assignments, particularly complex assignments, such as videotaping research interviews. Students in online discussion spaces may need additional prompting or attention, and students conducting research online might benefit from interactions with other students in similar activity systems. This chapter provides one example of how applying activity theory and thinking of the online class as a complex system can assist faculty in predicting challenges for online students and designing classes that might mitigate those challenges.

Keywords: assessment: English, course and program design: English, collaboration, teaching with technology: English, student-to-student interaction, research writing, student engagement, assignment: English, discussion: English, discussion boards

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 10, 11

Walkington, Helen. “Developing Dialogic Learning Space: The Case of Online Undergraduate Research Journals.” Journal of Geography in Higher Education, vol. 36, no. 4, 2012, pp. 547-62.

Walkington asserts that “Understanding research and participation in the research process are central to the needs of undergraduate students in Higher Education” (547). Thus, this article outlines a strategy for using wikis as an online collaborative learning space where undergraduate students learn to write for professional publications, and graduate students review articles for undergraduate researchers. Walkington evaluates the impact of this collaborative space on student learning by interviewing students who participated in publishing and reviewing articles for two e-journals: GEOverse and Geoversity. Undergraduate students reported “a sense of achievement, heightened  understanding of a research topic, enjoyment of the creative process and a sense of ownership of the research” (552). In particular, students reported using more scholarly sources over web sources because they wanted to make sure the results they were presenting fit in with others’ published work on their topic. Students also highly valued the experience of working toward publication in the two journals; thus, they reported a greater ability to apply the criticism they received from the graduate student reviewers. The online aspect of the review process via the wiki affected students’ views of the criticism as they saw the publication process for what it is—a process—a working document (553–554). In terms of writing development, undergraduate students also reported a greater ability to evaluate their own writing as well as others’ writing because they learned what good writing in their field consists of through the process of publication (554). Challenges included a desire for dialogue. Although students appreciated and were able to work with reviewers on the wiki, some students noted that they would have liked to have an actual conversation with the reviewers and editors to clarify comments (556). Graduate students who acted as reviewers for both journals reported the collaborative online space to be beneficial because students often had to work with a reviewer from another department who helped them see how writing can be viewed from different perspectives; thus, the definition of good writing varied among reviewers. Some students reported liking the asynchronous aspect of reviewing with another person, while other students noted that they would have preferred to meet face-to-face and discuss the review after each one read the paper. However, graduate students reported the overall experience as a positive one because they developed “reviewers eyes,” which helped them be more critical and reflect on the characteristics of good writing (557). This article provides a method of helping to move online writing students across disciplines beyond simple activities that ask them to summarize research in their disciplines to actually understanding the process of publishing in their fields.

Key words: collaboration, research writing, wiki, WAC, graduate students, peer review, asynchronous interaction

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 15

Wang, Jen-Hang, et al. “Effects of a Mixed-Mode Peer Response on Student Response Behavior and Writing Performance.” Journal of Educational Computing Research, vol. 51, no. 2, 2014, pp. 233-56.

Harry Wang, Shih-Hsun Hsu, Sherry Chen, and Tak-Wai Chan research the effects of computer-mediated peer review to answer four questions: “1) How did students in the experimental group perform differently from students in the control group in terms of writing quality and written expression? 2) How did high-ability students in the experimental group and those in the control group perform differently in terms of writing quality and written expression? 3) How did low-ability students in the experimental group and those in the control group perform differently in terms of writing quality and written expression? and 4) How did high- and low-ability students in the experimental group perform differently in peer response behavior?” (238). The study investigated the peer-review and writing practices of 54 third-graders in Taiwan who took a pre- and post-test to assess their writing abilities before and after the experiment. The researchers found no significant difference in prior writing ability between the two groups of students. Students who were initially high-performing in both groups did better on the post-tests than low-performing students. Overall, students who were in the e-Peer Response (EPR) group performed better than those students in the teacher-centered writing. They attribute these findings to the fact that the EPR group had a “more convenient online writing environment,” that the EPR group had a “complete writing practice with opportunities for revision,” and that the EPR “provided a sharable mechanism so that students could exchange drafts and share meanings with each other” (248-249). The findings in this study, though from an elementary classroom, might shed light on issues related to the advantages of implementing online peer review in the college classroom.

Keywords: peer review, ESL, ELL, elementary students, EFL, L2, multilingual writers, empirical research, quantitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 10, 11, 13, 15

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. “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. “Studies Comparing Outcomes among Onsite, Hybrid, and Fully-Online Writing Courses.” WPA-CompPile Research Bibliographies, no. 21, 2013,

In this bibliography, Warnock both responds to and challenges the drive for research comparing onsite, online, and hybrid writing courses. Warnock begins by pointing out that questions about the efficacy of online writing instruction invariably position hybrid and online writing courses against the “‘gold standard’ of the onsite class experience,” an assumption that “is—to say the least—flawed” (1). Assessment of onsite writing courses is notoriously difficult, due in no small part to methodologically-questionable assessment measures and the absence of “widely-accepted criteria as to what clearly constitutes success in writing courses” across institutions (2). Nevertheless, a robust collection of studies comparing onsite and online courses have been published, which Warnock examines closely. Among the themes that emerge from this analysis are that there is no significant difference between online, onsite, and hybrid courses and that instructor-student and student-student interactivity seems correlated “to student satisfaction and perhaps course success”(3).  This bibliography is an indispensible resource for OWI instructors and administrators alike.

Keywords: assessment: English, learning outcomes, hybrid, online writing programs, literature review, administration, writing program administration, student-to-student interaction, instructor interaction, student success

OWI Principles: 7, 10, 11, 15

Wichadee, Saovap. “Improving Students’ Summary Writing Ability Through Collaboration: A Comparison Between Online Wiki Group and Conventional Face-to-face Group.” Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 12, no. 3, July 2013, pp. 107-16.

Wichadee investigates the differences between the summary writing skills of L2 learners who participated in “wiki-based collaboration” and those who collaborated face-to-face. The researcher also compared the students’ writing abilities with their satisfaction with the online or face-to-face methods. In doing so, Wichadee addressed the following questions: 1) To what extent did the students improve their English summary writing ability after learning through collaboration? 2) Is there a difference in students' writing ability between those using wiki-based collaboration and those using conventional face-to-face collaboration after the intervention? 3) Is there a difference in satisfaction of students learning via wiki-based collaboration as compared to those learning via face-to-face collaboration? 4) What are students’ attitudes towards learning through wiki in terms of its advantages and disadvantages? and 5) Is there a difference between wiki-based group and face-to-face group in terms of summary writing accuracy of the final product?” (109). Forty students in two sections of Fundamental English I at Bangkok University completed writing summary tests, and questionnaires gauged their writing performance and their perception of their experience. Both groups improved their summary writing skills, and while the gains from the wiki-based collaborative group were higher, the results were not statistically significant. The improvement in the summary writing was attributed not to the modality but rather to the experience of working collaboratively and sharing writing with classmates. Students in the wiki-based groups identified more advantages than drawbacks, and students recognized in surveys that the teacher would be more likely to evaluate individual effort in the wiki-based groups, which motivated their performance. In addition, the face-to-face group was found to do more direct copying from the passage than the wiki-based group. This article is valuable to researchers and instructors who are investigating the differences in online learning communities versus face-to-face learning communities in term of writing performance.

Keywords: wikis, writing process, collaboration, ELL, ESL, L2, multilingual writers, surveys, research, quantitative research, plagiarism

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 10, 11, 15

Wichadee, Saovapa. “Peer Feedback on Facebook: The Use of Social Networking Websites to Develop Writing Ability of Undergraduate Student.” Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, vol. 14, no. 4,  Oct. 2013, pp. 260-70.

Wichadee explored how using Facebook to provide comments on student papers affected the quality of that feedback. The study had five primary goals: “to explore the nature of feedback that students receive on their writings, to find out the extent the peer feedback in Facebook improve students’ writing ability, to examine the extent to which peers' comments are incorporated into their subsequent revisions, to study students’ attitude towards peer feedback activity to study students’ attitude towards the use of Facebook for peer feedback” (262-263). Thirty first-year students enrolled in a Fundamental English course wrote two pieces of at least 100 words and then posted their work to Facebook for peer review. Students were then interviewed about their attitudes about using Facebook for peer review and the types of feedback were coded. The study showed that students were more likely to comment on content rather than grammar and language use. They also significantly improved their writing. However, students were more likely to have incorporated the grammatical recommendations rather than the content recommendations from the peer review (although content recommendations were close behind the grammatical ones). The students found their peer comments to be useful and did not experience difficulties using Facebook to provide feedback. The study is useful as a means of identifying alternatives to the LMS when completing peer review of short documents in online classes.

Keywords: peer review, social media, first-year writing, interviews, qualitative research, research, grammar & style, feedback, course management system

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 10, 11, 15

Wolfe, Joanna, and Jo Ann Griffin. “Comparing Technologies for Online Writing Conferences: Effects of Medium on Conversation.” The Writing Center Journal, vol. 32, no. 2, 2012, pp. 60-92.

This article details the methodology and results of a small-scale study that measured the effect medium has in writing conferences. Wolfe claims that although many writing and teaching professionals assume in-person consultation is ideal, online conferencing can be pedagogically equivalent to face-to-face sessions. In addition to face-to-face conferences, two forms of online writing instruction were studied that incorporated synchronous audio and screen-sharing technology. The differences between all three mediums are discussed, with emphasis on the computer-based conferencing styles. Wolfe concludes with recommendations for utilizing online conferences and guidance for future research.

Keywords: research, online tutoring, synchronous interaction, audio, screencasting

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 10, 11, 15

Wooten, Courtney Adam. “The Mediation of Literacy Education and Correspondence Composition Courses at UNC–Chapel Hill, 1912–1924.” Composition Studies, vol. 41, no. 2, 2013, pp. 40-57.

In this essay, Wooten situates contemporary debates about online learning into the historical context of distance education to demonstrate how institutional values shape offsite courses and mediate literacy learning. Wooten grounds her analysis in two types of mediation theory: 1) mediation as institutional sponsorship and 2) “mediation as communication in context” (44). Wooten begins with institutional sponsorship, analyzing the roots and growth of composition correspondence courses at UNC-Chapel Hill in the 1910s and 1920s. The motivation for these courses is familiar: UNC wanted to meet increased student demand while boosting its image as an innovative public institution. Its correspondence courses could not, however, be true equivalents to the onsite courses, as distance students had no access to campus resources and immediate instruction. Wooten latches onto this issue of immediacy, arguing that “the correlation between correspondence courses and online courses seen through their lack of interactivity, especially in MOOCs,” claiming that in online courses, “the mediation of literacies is not as direct and personal, even with the use of synchronous technologies” (51-52). Wooten’s historical analysis and criticisms of online writing instruction that is driven by institutional needs, as opposed to pedagogical affordances, could help OWI instructors and WPAs analyze how their own courses are mediated at the institutional instructional level.

Keywords: distance education, MOOCs, interactivity, synchronous interaction, asynchronous interaction, writing program administrators, literacy

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 6, 11


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

Yang, Yu-Fen. “Cognitive Conflicts and Resolutions in Online Text Revisions: Three Profiles.” Journal of Educational Technology and Society, vol. 13, no. 4, 2010, pp. 202-14.

This study analyzes student writers’ engagement with online peer feedback in an L2 class to investigate how students’ resolution of cognitive conflicts leads to improved writing. The online system used in this study includes dialogue boxes for writers and their reviewers, a differential tool that enables writers to compare their peers’ edited version of the text with their own, and a trace result that tracks how students progress through the revision process. The study analyzed 45 “student writers’ first and final drafts, students’ actions and errors recorded in the trace result, and retrospective interviews” (206). The results indicate that a significant proportion of students (36%) accepted their peers’ edits wholesale, without even reading the majority of peers’ comments in the dialogue boxes. Only 17% of students were categorized as those who are “always aware of the differences between her first draft and peer editors’ suggestions and knows why she accepts or rejects peer editors’ suggestions in a text” (206). The remaining students in this study fell in between the two profiles. Based on the findings, Yang suggests that successful text revision is predicated on an awareness of cognitive conflict and active engagement with peer feedback. Yang also notes that teachers need to scaffold the peer review process so that students learn how to give and receive effective feedback. While this research was conducted solely on face-to-face classes, it provides an example of an online, structured opportunity for dialogue on and about student writing. Instructors might consider incorporating or improving upon their current digital tools for peer-editing, especially in providing opportunity for conversation between readers and writers and facilitating increased engagement with and reflection about the writing process.

Keywords: peer review, revision, writing process, scaffolding, feedback, interviews, mixed methods, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 13, 15

Yang, Yu-Fen. “Preparing Language Teachers for Blended Teaching of Summary Writing.” Computer Assisted Language Learning, vol. 27, no. 3, 2014, pp. 185-206.

This study examines how language teachers perceive and address the problems L2 students encounter in summary writing. Using theories of blended learning and social constructivism as a guide, six experienced language teachers scaffolded the summary writing process into three stages in which students were rotated through three roles: outliners, summarizers, and peer editors. The teachers used an online learning system (CLCS), developed by Yang, which promoted student-student and student-teacher interaction throughout the summary writing process. The data analyzed included the interactions recorded in the CLCS, interviews with teachers, and student scores on a standardized English proficiency test taken three times over the course of the semester. The results demonstrate that student learning was greatly improved due primarily to the shift in the roles of both teachers and students. Teachers “shifted from dominators to facilitators” by scaffolding the assignment, “monitor[ing] students’ learning progress through the” CLCS, and continuously “revis[ing] their curriculum design in order to meet their students’ needs” (198, 200). Meanwhile, students “shifted from passive to active learners, as they became self-regulated” and interacted with each other more frequently (198). This study is valuable to OWI practice because it articulates many of the challenges that students face in writing effective academic summaries, and it addresses challenges teachers have when transitioning to blended and online formats. Of particular note is Yang’s concluding claim that “new teaching approaches are crucial in blended language courses,” particularly those that promote greater student-student and student-teacher interaction” (203).

Keywords: peer review, student-student interaction, scaffolding, blended, L2, ELL, ESL, multilingual writers, social constructivism, instructor interaction, course management systems, research, mixed methods, qualitative research, quantitative research,

OWI Principles: 3, 10, 11, 15

Yang, Yu-Fen, and Wu, Shan-P. “A Collective Case Study of Online Interaction Patterns in Text Revisions.” Educational Technology and Society, vol. 14, no. 2, 2011, pp. 1-15.

In this article, Yang and Wu consider the effects of peer interaction and collaboration on student writing in an online setting. Background information on previous collaboration studies is provided, as well as relevant contextual information regarding the central study of this article. The online system interface and procedures for data collection are explained before specific examples of two students’ writing processes are analyzed. Students participating in the study could clearly be divided into two groups—those who made global and local revisions and those who made only local revisions. Yang and Wu found that students who actively participated in acquiring and contributing knowledge through peer collaboration made both local and global revisions to their final drafts. Students who passively interacted with the online system only made local revisions to final drafts and were more likely to focus on grammatical corrections when editing peers’ essays. The researchers concluded that increased peer interaction resulted in greater text improvement. They suggest teachers encourage students to fully engage in peer collaboration and emphasize the importance of peer reviewing, especially for low-participating students. The article concludes by noting existing downfalls of the study, such as the small sample size and unknown effect of the computer-based system on the writing process.

Key words:  peer editing, collaboration, revision, student engagement, grammar & style, research, qualitative research

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11, 15


Yeh, Hui-Chin, and Yu-Fen Yang. “Prospective Teachers’ Insights Towards Scaffolding Students’ Writing Processes Through Teacher-Student Role Reversal in an Online System.” Education Tech Research and Development, vol. 59, no. 3, 2011, pp. 351-68.

In this research article, Yeh and Yang discuss the methodology and findings of a study conducted to investigate the effects of student-teacher role reversal in a computer-supported environment. Yeh and Yang postulate that prospective teachers benefit from taking on the student roles of writer, editor, and commentator; however, few empirical studies have been conducted on the subject. By using an online interface, the study is able to systematically record each step in the role-reversal experience, which allows researchers and teachers to evaluate and reflect on the writing texts and action logs produced. In addition to the semester-long online portion of the study, data was also collected from an open-ended questionnaire and follow-up survey. The researchers conclude that role reversal is an integral part of teacher training which allows future instructors to better understand students’ learning difficulties and appropriately adapt the learning curriculum and teaching methods to meet the students’ needs. The article does note a handful of changes to the online system interface that would better facilitate future role-reversal experiments. Yeh and Yang conclude by stating that the effect of role reversal in different teaching environments (online or face-to-face) would need to be explored in a future study.

Keywords:  assessment, flipped classroom, computer-mediated classroom, surveys, instructor interaction, mixed methods, qualitative research quantitative research

OWI Principles:  4, 7, 11, 14, 15

Yohon, Teresa, and Don Zimmerman. “Strategies for Online Critiquing of Student Assignments.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication, vol. 18, no. 2, 2004, pp. 220-32.

Yohon and Zimmerman discuss the advantages of reading and commenting on student writing using a variety of electronic tools, including the track changes, comment, and autocorrect functions. They offer specific suggestions for this electronic critique, including how to prepare students to take advantage of these tools. They also suggest setting specific policies and boundaries for this type of commenting to avoid some common pitfalls, including the need to ease students into receiving this type of commentary.  This article seems outdated given the widespread use of these features since 2004, but for those instructors across the disciplines just learning how to effectively give embedded writing feedback, this article provides a clear how-to of how to effectively begin providing feedback.

Keywords: feedback, revision

OWI Principles:  3, 4, 10, 11, 13

Zachry, Mark. “Paralogy and Online Pedagogy.” Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood, 2005, pp. 177-90.

Zachry’s chapter establishes human interaction through the concept of paralogy as a key component to an online course that helps students both navigate the content of a course and the complex social interactions that are necessary for human communication to take place. “Paralogy” is the idea that meaning is constructed not through logic but through understanding or coming to terms with ideas in specific communicative contexts. Online classes provide opportunities to “experience and reflect upon the paralogic dimensions of human communication” (184). In order for this paralogic communication to take place, online instructors must create spaces for the free and open exchange of ideas in an online classroom and participate in those exchanges actively. Creating engaging student discussions encourages students to move beyond a formulaic understanding of professional communication and into spaces where they must practice and analyze the complex activity that is written human communication. This article supports the importance of online classes as dynamic, interactive spaces where students and faculty can exchange ideas and practice professional communication.

Keywords: navigation, communication, discussion: English, faculty interaction, student-to-student interaction

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11