Bedford Bibliography of Research in Online Writing Instruction: Principle 13

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OWI Principle 13: OWI students should be provided support components through online/digital media as a primary resource; they should have access to onsite support components as a secondary set of resources.


Ahrenhoerster, Greg, and Jon Brammer. “What’s the Point of Your OWL? Online Tutoring at the University of Wisconsin Colleges.” The Writing Lab Newsletter, vol. 26, no. 2, 2002, pp. 1–5.

Ahrenhoerster and Brammer make the argument faculty overseeing OWLs should implement OWL services to add benefits for students rather than doing so to incorporate technology for technology’s sake. After surveying twenty students who used an OWL, they found that half of the students expressed satisfaction with their online peer tutoring services, and all those who were satisfied were in their second semester of writing classes. Final grades of those students surveyed suggested that all students benefit from online peer tutoring services, regardless of satisfaction. Based on their admittedly small study, Ahrenhoerster and Brammer restructured their program to include more individualization in tutor response to provide more assistance at the sentence level, a change that many first-year students recommended in the survey. While this study has an admittedly small sample size, it does provide OWL administrators with a model of how to use student feedback to help revise OWL services to meet online student needs.

Keywords: online writing labs, surveys, student satisfaction

OWI Principles: 13, 15

Anderson, Dana. “Interfacing E-mail Tutoring: Shaping an Emergent Literate Practice.” Computers and Composition, vol. 19, no. 1, 2002, pp. 71–87. Science Direct, 10.1016/S8755-4615(02)00081-6

Anderson argues that the new literacy practices of email “invite—perhaps even require—new literate behaviors, behaviors that, in turn, invoke correspondingly new conceptions of literacy in the writing center” (72). Anderson demonstrates ways in which the new interfaces require different types of literacies and then analyzes the e-mail interface of twenty-one online writing labs (OWLs) to understand how the interface shapes students’ expectations experiences in this medium. The language of the OWL sites indicates specific parameters about the type of student and the type of writing acceptable for the OWL. These limitations, Anderson argues, shape a writer’s goals and expectations about the OWL. Faculty administering OWLs should, therefore, design e-mail portals to reflect the goals of their overall writing center literacy practices. Anderson concludes by introducing language that distinguishes “between first- and second-level representations within OWL email tutoring interfaces (83). She hopes that introducing such language will start a conversation about how OWLs integrate theory and language with literacy practices.

Keywords: literacy, online writing lab, interface, tutoring: English

OWI Principles:  13, 14, 15

Ascuena, Andrea, and Michael Mattison. “(Re)Wiring Ourselves: The Electrical and Pedagogical Evolution of a Writing Center.” Computers and Composition Online, Spring 2006,

This web text narrates the experience of refashioning (or “re-wiring”) a little-used OWC at Boise State University around three primary concerns: “How can we design the most efficient, accessible web site for our service? How can we schedule e-mail consultations so as to utilize our consultants’ hours without infringing on their face-to-face sessions? How can we best respond to the essays we receive through e-mail?” Ascuena and Mattison extend the metaphor of working with electricity to name the “circuits” of their re-writing: technology, administration, and pedagogy. They modeled their re-wiring around Temple University’s OWC and implemented a dropbox system for student submissions. They also added web pages for quick questions and for welcoming and thanking the students for using the OWC. The webtext identifies the process the tutors undertook to administer the OWC as student submissions increased. Students who were surveyed about their experiences were positive about the help they received in the OWC. Finally, Ascuena and Mattison outline the process of training their peer tutors for online tutoring, providing a written guide to help the tutors move away from in-text responses and toward more global comments focused on higher-order concerns, just as they would give in face-to-face consultations. This webtext provides a concrete primer for writing centers and writing labs seeking to implement online components of their services and models good practices for responding to student texts in the OWC.

Keywords: online writing center, tutoring: English, web design

OWI Principles: 13, 14

Bell, Diana C., and Mike T. Hubler. “The Virtual Writing Center: Developing Ethos.” The Writing Center Journal, vol. 21, no. 2, 2001, pp. 57-77.

Bell and Hubler argue that writing center listservs go beyond simple communication and become, themselves, a social medium. By analyzing writing center listserv postings for two consecutive semesters, they demonstrate how their own ethos was generated through postings. They found that new tutors seek to merge with returning tutors, which establishes what Maurice Charland calls a “people.” As community hierarchies are established through the validation or silencing of individual posts, some posts are isolated and others are valued. The article models how administrators can work to understand their own virtual communities and mitigate the negative impact of those virtual communities on interactions between tutors and writers.

Keywords: writing center, listservs, tutoring: English

OWI Principles: 13, 14

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

Blythe, Stewart. “Why OWLs: Value, Risk, and Evolution.” Kairos, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1996,

Blythe provides a hypertext in this first article of the first issue of Kairos that provides an overview of the hows, whys, and why nots of online writing labs. The hypertext covers basic considerations of beginning an online writing center, the modalities that OWLs might take, and invites interrogation of the ways that we view theories of technology and how we talk about computers as a part of the discussion of OWLs. This early hypertext, while dated (not all of the hyperlinks still go to active pages), does provide insight to scholars researching the history of OWLs in terms of concerns that scholars and researchers voiced as the OWL moved from the 20th to the 21st century.

Keywords: online writing lab, modality, hypertext

OWI Principles: 13, 14

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


Bourelle, Tiffany, Andrew Bourelle, and Sherry Rankins-Robertson. “Employing a Multiliteracies Pedagogy through Multimodal Composition: Preparing Twenty-first Century Writers.” Computers and Composition Online, Fall 2013.


In this webtext, the authors argue for preparing 21st century writers by challenging them to create multimodal rhetorical texts, using the scholarship of the New London Group to argue that teachers “consider not only how technology can have a significant impact on students’ understanding of rhetorical concepts, but also how technology can impact curriculum design as well.” The remainder of the article demonstrates their English 105 classroom where they use multimodal composition and multimodal content to shape a classroom around Picciano’s “Blending with a Purpose” model of online course design. Their curriculum description includes an overview of the content, student interaction, critical questioning, collaboration, synthesis, and reflection in their class. Their assessment of the course includes anecdotal student feedback about the courses, and their conclusion identifies steps that instructors can take to begin incorporating multimodality into their classes. This article describes the same course structure the authors developed for Arizona State University (see Bourelle et al. 2013 for a more thorough discussion of this online class).


Keywords: multimodal, writing program administration, learning management systems, video: English, collaboration, student-to-student interaction, student engagement, assessment


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


Breuch, Lee-Ann. “The Idea(s) of an Online Writing Center: In Search of a Conceptual Model.” The Writing Center Journal, vol. 25, no. 2, 2005, pp. 21-38. Print.

Breuch recaps the challenges that online writing centers face and the difficulties in finding effective models due to variation. More specifically, varying models do not create a consistent idea of the way online writing centers operate. Conceptual models are explained as an integral piece of online environments that predict and help people to understand the way in which things work. The article divides ideas from conceptual models by three characteristics: 1) people always have an understanding of how things work due to conceptual models, 2) frustration is likely to occur as multiple attempts lead to failure when trying to apply conceptual models, and 3) conceptual models are encouraged to be revised as new technology is released and can be utilized to benefit ideas. Conceptual models are always present, yet not all models work. Thus, some online writing centers struggle. Directive and nondirective ways of learning restrict student learning in online writing centers because student absorb only what is on a screen.  Breuch ends by indicating opportunities for improvement so that learners can benefit from tutoring that involves modern advancements in media and technology.

Keywords: online writing centers, tutoring: English

OWI Principles: 3, 13, 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carlson, David A., and Eileen Apperson-Williams. “The Anxieties of Distance: Online Tutors Reflect.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood, 2nd ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, pp. 285-94.

Carlson and Apperson-Williams studied how online tutors negotiated the sterile territory of online tutoring sessions without the face-to-face contact and rapport building that on-campus tutoring provides. The authors review various methods of online tutoring, including email and chat features, and conclude that “tutors must readjust their conceptions of how to develop interpersonal relationships when tutoring online” (286-287). Interviews with online writing tutors revealed some of the anxiety that online writing tutors face when interacting with online students, including worries about appropriating student writing and building relationships with students. However, the interviews also highlighted what tutors see as beneficial in online tutoring--the ability to alleviate concerns about prejudice and focus on the student writing and the student’s approach to the text. The authors conclude that, as students become more familiar with online tutoring, their anxieties will lessen. This article demonstrates some of the basic concerns of transitioning tutors from face-to-face to online tutoring.

Keywords: tutoring: English, online writing center, email, interviews

OWI Principles: 10, 13, 14, 15

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

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

Keywords: WAC, literacy, apps, mobile technology

OWI Principles: 2, 13

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

Charlton, Claire. “Just A Click Away: Online Writing Labs at Universities Offer Free Help With Grammar, Style, Editing and Other Issues.” The Writer, vol. 119, no. 9, 2006, pp. 40-41.

Charlton offers a review of several OWLs and discusses how they can help online writers. Most of what she mentions are repositories; one is a game. She describes OWLs as “electronic version of your favorite grammar or stylebook.” In her reviews, she presents sites for different challenges like invention, technical writing, grammar, editing, and creative writing.

Keywords: online writing labs, gamification

OWI Principles: 4, 13

Clerehan, Rosemary. “Framing Writing Support Online for an International Student Population.” Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, vol. 1, no. 3, 2006, pp. 195-219.

Clerehan’s study investigated the issues that arise when students from other cultures (even from Western, English-speaking cultures) encounter post-secondary assignments from new cultures. The study investigates the efficacy of stand-alone online materials that support student writing in the disciplines. The objective of the research was to understand how incoming freshmen, many of whom were international students, responded to discipline-specific writing support materials posted online and “whether the theory (as embodied in the resource) correctly identified the students’ learning needs from the students’ perspectives” (201). Her results indicated that international students were “more likely to report the module elements as difficult or very difficult to understand than were the local students” (204). The survey indicated no significant difference on the helpfulness of the materials between local and international students. The motivation of local students to access and use the resources ranged from 59% to 67%, and the motivation of international students to use these resources was 92%. Clerehan concludes that “universities with diverse student cohorts who are concerned to internationalize their curricula and to improve their online teaching and support for student learning, research theoretically sound ways of doing so” (213). This research demonstrates that online writing faculty who teach international student populations review their materials to ensure that the writing suitable for diverse audiences.

Keywords: ESL, ELL, multilingual writers, course and program design: English

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

Cooper, George, et al. “Protocols and Process in Online Tutoring.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood, 2nd ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003, pp. 255-66.

Cooper, Bui, and Riker question whether moving tutoring from face-to-face to online platforms hinders the foundations of writing center practice, namely the relationship between the tutor and the student. They conclude that, “Though principles of face-to-face tutoring [student control, interpersonal communication, and dialogue about writing] do not transfer completely to online tutoring, we can still retain a sense of collaboration and humanity in the online forum” (310). In particular, they recommend 1) setting an appropriate tone in the introductory remarks to a student, 2) establishing a dialogic relationship with the student through questions, 3) limiting remarks on grammar and punctuation, and 4) providing a summative comment in order to close the session. While these methods will not completely mitigate frustration with online tutoring nor replicate fully the face-to-face dynamics of on-campus tutoring, gathering student feedback about online tutoring sessions will help tutors to adjust their methods to reach online students. This chapter establishes some basic guidelines of good practice in online tutoring for those individuals struggling to move from face-to-face to online modalities.

Keywords: tutoring: English, feedback, tutor training, asynchronous interaction

OWI Principles: 10, 13, 14

Crump, Eric. “At Home in the MUD: Writing Centers Learn to Wallow.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood, 2nd ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003, pp. 242-55.

Crump explores the opportunities offered to writing centers through online learning communities, which he calls multi-user dimensions (MUD). The article begins with an explanation of the operation of these online spaces. He continues by analyzing two of his own online communications with students in three “glances.” The first glance sees MUDs as a divergence from the oral boundaries of the writing. The second glance sees MUDs as a translation of writing center practices to an online arena, with little to no change. The third glance challenges the hierarchical model of the writing center. He posits that MUDs offer the chance to break down the barrier between student and consultant and create a community in which equal communication and sharing of ideas is encouraged.

Keywords: MUD, writing centers, community

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 13, 14

Dailey, Susan R. “Linking Technology to Pedagogy in an Online Writing Center.” Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, vol. 10, no. 1, 2004, pp. 181–206.  

Dailey explores the online writing lab (OWL) model for law schools and target groups of law students. She examines writing center pedagogy and the perception of the OWL model within that pedagogy. She then goes on to explain the possibilities of the OWL for law schools, offering specific features that enhance the writing center’s functionality. She analyzes the benefits of OWLs for three target groups: 1) the experienced writer, 2) the first-generation college student, and 3) the second-language (L2) law student. For experienced writers, Dailey argues that the OWL can provide information without insulting these writers’ established knowledge, instead supplementing it with resources to help them become better writers through professional samples. Because first-generation college students enter college, and subsequently law school, less prepared, their writing often suffers. The OWL model for these law students proves useful in techniques such as a error analysis and acknowledgment of unconscious grammar knowledge. L2 students’ law writing generally reflects a need for help in sentence and global level issues. Dailey posits that teaching contrastive pedagogical techniques will help these readers and that the OWL model is most beneficial because of the ability to hyperlink between multiple discourses simultaneously. Dailey sees the potential of OWL to offer real resources for the development of law students’ writing skills.

Keywords: online writing lab, ELL, ESL, multilingual writer, L2, WAC, WID

OWI Principles 1, 3, 13

De Rycker, Antoon, and Prema Ponnudurai. “The Effect of Online Reading on Argumentative Essay Writing Quality.” GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies, vol. 11, no. 3, 2011, pp. 147-62,

De Rycker and Ponnudurai performed a quasi-experimental study with ESL students in Malaysia (n=45) to compare the students’ quality of argumentation when reading interactive texts presented on a screen or texts printed on paper. Students completed an argumentative essay after reading the texts, and that essay was scored using a modified version of Harrell’s rating scale. The researchers found that the modality of the text did not affect the length of the essays or the students’ abilities to present counter-arguments. However, more students who read the interactive online reading wrote thesis statements and overall arguments that were rated as “good” (156). The sample size limited the study, but this research sets the stage for additional, more robust studies of the effect of reading on a computer screen as opposed to reading a print text and how either of those modalities affect student writing ability in online and hybrid classes.

Keywords: ESL, ELL, multilingual writers, modality, qualitative research, reading, hybrid

OWI Principles: 1, 4, 13, 15

Driscoll, Dana, et al. “Usability and User-Centered Theory for 21st Century OWLs.” Handbook of Research on Virtual Workplaces and the New Nature of Business Practices, edited by Pavel Zemliansky and Kirk St. Amant. Hershey, IGI Global, 2008, pp. 614-31.


Driscoll, Brizee, Salvo, and Sousa examine the theories of user-centered Online Writing Labs (OWL) and the research conducted on the usability of the Purdue OWL. They detail the history of the Purdue Writing Lab, the Purdue OWL Usability Project, and the implications of user-centered theory and usability research, primarily those involving collaboration with users to create an online literacy resource. In the study, two tests were conducted. In test one, the participants navigated the OWL and answered a survey, while in test two, participants responded to questions while using both the OWL website and a user-centered OWL prototype. Results suggest the prototype was more time efficient and participant responses to the prototype were positive. Researchers conclude that the necessity of usability research paired with participatory invention for the most effective user-centered website.

Keywords:  online writing labs, usability studies, user-centered design, qualitative research

OWI Principles: 1, 13, 15

Ehmann Powers, Christa. “A Study of Online Writing Instructor Perceptions.” The Online Writing Conference: A Guide for Teachers and Tutors, edited by Beth Hewett, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015, pp. 174-82.

This study examines some of the experiences of online writing tutors at Smarthinking, Inc. in 2009 in an attempt to understand their attitudes about OWI and the roles they take as online instructors (also called e-structors at that time). Tutors primarily conducted asynchronous interactions where they commented on Web-delivered texts using a framework that called first for global comments with the addition of a few embedded local comments. Some tutors also provided synchronous conferences via a whiteboard and co-located chat box. Although unsolicited in the survey, many tutors remarked that they had pedagogical challenges when teaching using text (i.e., not voice) and struggled with the lack of instant feedback from students regarding whether the tutorial had been helpful. Tutors also spoke to what they saw as distinct features of OWI, including the ability for online writing instructors to self-reflect and assess their own work and the need for students to engage with different levels of cognitive processing. In terms of attitudes toward OWI, the online tutors expressed some concerns regarding whether OWI was pedagogically valid and potential political issues about the uses of OWI in educational institutions. Respondents claimed that OWI could have significant learning benefits for students and their writing processes while framing these benefits in terms of affect and the practical aspects of working online. Ehmann Powers ends with a series of implications for this research and the need for ongoing study of these issues.

Keywords: tutors: English, online writing center, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction, faculty perceptions, research

OWI Principles 13, 14, 15

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

Goodfellow, Robin, Pat Strauss, and Marianne Puxley. “Web-based Writing Support: Making it Usable for Teachers.” European Journal of Open, Distance, and E-Learning. 26 Mar. 2012,

Goodfellow et al. argue that instructors in the disciplines who lack writing expertise may benefit from online writing resources as they teach distance courses. They propose a system to help faculty select relevant instruction to incorporate into comments on student writing. The authors developed categories to organize seventy common writing problems, then identified three to seven readily available online resources related to each problem type.  This information was organized on a website with links to the online writing resources that instructors could reference in their student feedback. The system was piloted with three instructors of a distance Masters of Education course. Though it took faculty extra time, the authors note that such a system of organizing writing resources was found useful by the instructors.

Keywords: online writing labs, feedback, WID

OWI Principles: 3, 13


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

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

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

OWI Principles: 2, 10, 13

Harris, Muriel. “From the (Writing) Center to the Edge: Moving Writers along the Internet.” The Clearing House, vol. 69, no. 1, 1995, pp. 21-23.

Harris analyzes what were, in 1995, the three most common methods of electronic writing center work: (1) email, (2) Multi-user domain Object Oriented (MOO) environments, and (3) the Internet. Email allows students to more easily send writing to tutors, MOOs enable quick conversations, and the Internet provided some mix of each. This is one of the earliest theoretical explorations of OWI in the writing center setting.

Keywords: online writing center, MOO, email, tutoring: English, community, computer-mediated communication

OWI Principles:  13, 14

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

Harris, Muriel, and Michael Pemberton. “Online Writing Labs (OWLs): A Taxonomy of Options and Issues.” Computers and Composition, vol. 12, no. 2, 1995, pp. 145-59. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/8755-4615(95)90003-9.

Harris and Pemberton’s article provides a review of how writing centers in the mid 1990s implemented online tutoring. The article discusses how OWLs might transition from face-to-face to online, giving helpful advice for these writing center directors. The technologies used in the mid-1990s, including email, Gopher, World Wide Web (WWW), newsgroups, synchronous chat systems, and automated file retrieval (AFR) systems, provide the precursors to tools and technologies that are still in use for OWLs in the 21st century. Harris and Pemberton analyze how user access, network security, computer illiteracy, institutional missions, writing center goals, computing center priorities, and computer programmers’ attitudes all impact the success of online writing centers. Successful OWLs place pedagogical goals ahead of technology use, according to Harris and Pemberton. This article is important for anyone interested in studying the development of OWLs. Written by two of writing centers’ most esteemed scholars, this essay maps out the pros and cons of the various tools available for OWLs in the 1990s.

Keywords: online writing lab, writing centers, online resources, tutoring: English, synchronous interaction

OWI Principles: 1, 13

Healy, Dave. “From Place to Space: Perceptual and Administrative Issues in the Online Writing Center.” Computers and Composition, vol. 12, no. 2, 1995, pp. 183-93. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/8755-4615(95)90006-3.

Healy argues that OWLs raise the issue of what the “space” of a writing center should be and whether the OWL is part of a decentring process that started as writing centers moved into dorms and other campus spaces. He provides a history of the debate regarding the “space” of the writing center, indicating that  “virtual writing center may be perceived differently by clients than the traditional, place-bound center” (185). He outlines the ways that decentralized, partially-online writing centers might affect the “scheduling, supervision, and ethos” of the writing center director and writing tutors. The article outlines a benefit of OWL work, the possibility of having a transcript of the tutoring sessions, a record of the “talk” of the conference (188). However, the “panopticon” effect that bringing technologies to the writing center conference would lead to is seen as both a positive and a negative. The article ends with a call from Healy to “preserve their semi-autonomous space” (191) of the writing center conference and to continue to focus on the human experience in any writing center modality.

Keywords: online writing labs, writing centers, tutoring: English

OWI Principles: 13, 14

Hewett, Beth L. “Theoretical Underpinnings of Online Writing Labs (OWLs).” The Owl Construction and Maintenance Guide, edited by James A. Inman and Clinton Gardner, International Writing Center Association Press, 2002, CD-ROM,

Hewett analyzes online writing labs (OWLs) both theoretically and practically, considering them not only natural outgrowths of the traditional onsite writing center but also sites of often misunderstood or unconsidered theoretical constructs, some of which do not fit the online model. Theoretically, she finds that OWLs tend to align with current-traditional, neo-classical, neo-Platonic (expressivist), and social constructivist positions. Practically, she finds that OWLs connect to the same theories: static learning materials can be connected to current-traditional thinking, for example, but this connection does not imply a negative utility for student learning even though contemporary scholars typically reject current-traditional thinking. Hewett finds theoretical complexity in both asynchronous and synchronous online tutorials and their resonance with the previous theories; she does not judge one as better than the other but sees each as a way of teaching students what they need to learn. She also considers OWLs through their utility as sites that support student and teacher publication, professional development, community outreach and support, writing across the curriculum (WAC), and inclusive learning support. Finally, Hewett provides offers her a vision of the OWL's as having a necessary place within a writing program in the same way that onsite, traditional writing centers have such a place, as critical to the writing program as a whole.

Keywords: current-traditional rhetoric, expressivism, neo-classical, online writing labs, social constructionism, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction, faculty development, writing centers

OWI Principles 3, 4, 13, 14

Hewett, Beth L. “Synchronous Online Conference-Based Instruction: A Study of Whiteboard Interactions and Student Writing.” Computers and Composition, vol. 23, no. 1, 2006, pp. 4-31. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2005.12.004.

Hewett reports on describes a small-scale, empirical study of synchronous conference-based OWI using an electronic whiteboard, where the tutorials were conducted by Smarthinking, Inc. tutors using their electronic whiteboard. She analyzed the talk of students and tutors involved in each tutorial using a previously tested linguistic analysis tool. Participant talk indicates that the interactions were focused on developing writing ideas and content and oriented to the task at hand as opposed to being oriented toward social exchange. However, despite the educationally transactional nature of the interactions, many interactions consisted of detailed dialogue in primarily declarative language. Nearly half of the talk was oriented toward communicative needs such as achieving interpersonal connections, facilitating the interaction, and communicating about the whiteboard's workspace. Most of the traceable writing and revision changes were meaning-preserving from the students’ original ideas and of minimal insignificant to moderate rhetorical force in terms of argument development. Hewett ends with suggestions for tutor training, preparing students for whiteboard use, and further research. The study suggests potential best practices for online instructor training, a need for student preparation to use whiteboard platforms, and ideas for future research into synchronous, text-based conferences.

Keywords: revision, empirical research, tutoring: English, synchronous interaction, revision, quantitative research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 10, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L. “Generating New Theory for Online Writing Instruction.” Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, vol. 6, no. 2, 2001,

In an article containing what may be the first published use of the term OWI, Hewett includes “computer-mediated communication (CMC) for classroom and writing/peer group situations, computer-based literary study, as well as individualized writing instruction such as that found in online writing lab (OWL) tutorials” under this term. This webtext specifically considers online writing labs and online writing courses (also known as CMC at that time) as examples of online settings where practice-based research is necessary for finding best practices in OWI. She outlines how the theories that ground OWI and OWLs particularly stem from the current-traditional, expressivist, neo-classical, and social constructivist constructs. Further, she provides examples and explications of tutorials from both asynchronous and synchronous (whiteboard-based) environments as tutored through Smarthinking, Inc. Finally, Hewett provides examples of tutor-to-tutor discussion threads that both demonstrate the educational principles of association and reveal self-reflective discussions.

Keywords: online tutoring, research, empirical research, online writing labs, theory, expressivism, constructivist, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction, tutoring: English, reflection, discussion: English

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OWI Principles: 2, 13, 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hewett, Beth L., and Christa Ehmann. Preparing Educators for Online Writing Instruction: Principles and Processes, National Council of Teachers of English, 2004.

Using common educational principles that evolved in traditional onsite settings, Hewett and Ehmann outline what they call their “principle-centered” approach to developing best practices for the training and ongoing professional development —both teachers and tutors. They outline five common educational principles—(1) investigation, (2) immersion, (3) individualization, (4) association, and (5) reflection—that they use to undergird their training program and practices at Smarthinking, Inc. Even though these practices are used in one for-profit, online learning assistance center, they are sufficiently broad as to be useful in developing professional development for online teachers and tutors at a wide variety of online educational institutions, regardless of their traditional or corporate structures. The book outlines the five principles, and Hewett and Ehmann use these principles to demonstrate experiences, difficulties, and successes in online writing instruction.  These principles, as well as a discussion about contemporary theories and philosophies relevant to OWI and what they call the “training spiral,” reveal a one-to group and one-to-one process of teacher/tutor training that can be used both asynchronously and synchronously. Hewett and Ehmann believe that such grounding makes their training approach educationally and practically sound regardless of the technology in use. The book is replete with examples, illustrations, and sample training materials.

Keywords: faculty development, online tutoring, mentoring, tutoring: English, synchronous interaction, asynchronous interaction

OWI Principles: 7, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L., and Christa Ehmann Powers. “How Do You Ground Your Training: Sharing the Principles and Processes of Preparing Educators for Online Writing Instruction.” Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, vol. 10, no. 1, 2005,

In this webtext, Hewett and Ehmann Powers contend argue that, like students, educators need acculturative and supportive training in online writing instruction (OWI). In particular, they need time and space for supportive professional development and mentoring. The authors review the available literature surrounding online training and professional development, and they discuss the five training principles first articulated in Preparing Educators for Online Writing Instruction: Principles and Processes--(1) investigation, (2) immersion, (3) individualization, (4) association, and (5) reflection--breaking them down to constituent parts and offering example scenarios. Their dual focus is on practical strategies of implementing the five principles and offering untapped areas of research into the strategies. They end the webtext with a call for program administrators and online instructors to dialogue more fully about their experiences and join together “to articulate, define, and theorize online training processes for both writing instructors and other educators.”

Keywords: writing program administration, faculty development, research

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L., and Scott Warnock. “The Future of OWI.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 547-63.

Hewett and Warnock claim that the future of OWI is intimately connected to the future of composition “writ large.” They further argue that in the future, all composition will be taught in hybrid settings—if it is not already done so—and that there will be fewer distinctive features between OWI and onsite composition instruction. The term “OWI” may become something with meaning only to WPAs while what currently is considered hybrid and fully online OWI may just become “composition.” They define the potential for what they call “good OWI” by several features: 1) being a good teacher in any setting, 2) including both text-based and digital/multimedia-based compositions, 3) rethinking the nature of the students, 4) using technology thoughtfully for both alphabetic and digital text, 5) publishing the good teaching strategies that instructors have developed, 6) addressing core problems in writing research and assessment such that composition instructors and not outside bodies and companies determine the field’s future, and 7) being ethical and moral instructors fully aware of and responsive to issues of access and inclusion. Hewett and Warnock conclude by stating that “Good OWI should help the field of composition be better.”

Keywords: accessibility, assessment, literacy, research, composition, hybrid, multimedia, student preparation, research, inclusivity

OWI Principles: 1, 7, 9, 13


Inman, James and Donna Sewell, editors. Taking Flight with OWLs: Examining Electronic Writing Center Work. Routledge, 2000.

Inman and Sewell collect a variety of essays that take various positions on the development of the Online Writing Lab, both theoretically and practically. These essays explore the development of an OWL, discussing the theoretical groundings and institutional needs required for a successful OWL. The research then explores the ways OWLs maintain and diverge from analog writing center pedagogy. Some researchers argue that OWLs diverge from writing center pedagogy, failing to create dialogic models for their students, and as such, encourage readers to reexamine OWL practices to greater reflect accepted pedagogy and theory. Other researchers, however, see OWLs as an opportunity to expand and adapt pedagogy to the need for students to be technologically proficient and skilled writers in a digital age. Both groups, however, believe that as technology changes, the role of the writing center within the university should continuously evolve, establishing itself as part of the learning community, especially in the technological age.

Keywords: online writing labs, writing center, theory, online tutoring, praxis, community

OWI Principles 1, 3, 13, 14, 15

Inman, James A., and Clinton Gardner, editors. OWL Construction and Maintenance Guide. International Writing Centers Association P, 2002, CD-ROM,

This guide discusses the many factors that must be addressed in OWL construction and maintenance. The guide explores the “Contemporary OWL” by providing histories of predominant OWLs as well as examining a variety of other OWLs, including those at smaller schools. This examination looks at OWLs’ effectiveness through their web interfaces and self-reported data. In the construction and maintenance sections, articles provide the reader with a guide to OWL development. The articles provide ideologies and approaches to consider when beginning or continuing the work of an OWL. These sections discuss data collection, institutional support, and training, among other topics. The guide offers many positions, so readers develop their own theoretical framework for the OWL based on scholarly engagements. Each section also includes a summative checklist that readers can use to plan and evaluate their OWLs. The guide concludes with an annotated bibliography for additional readings helpful for OWL construction and maintenance.

Keywords: online writing lab, online writing center, research, administration, assessment

OWI Principles 1, 13, 14

Jacobs, Geert, et al. “A Multilanguage Online Writing Center for Professional Communication: Development and Testing.” Business Communication Quarterly, vol. 68, no. 1, 2005, pp. 8–22.

Geert Jacobs, Liesbeth Opdenacker, and Luuk Van Waes describe the Calliope Online Writing Center at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. The authors detail how Calliope is constructed around social-constructivist, problem-based learning that “combines learner-guided learning and system-guided learning” (9). Calliope allows users to follow a less-linear process in dealing with the inherently recursive nature of writing. In a preliminary assessment of student self-efficacy after using Calliope, Jacobs et al. found that Calliope was effective on twenty-six separate measures of self-efficacy on post tests. They also found that peer feedback in Calliope showed a “relation between the level of confidence and the quality of the feedback” (17) and that learners made more comments and felt more knowledgeable in those comments “(18). The authors indicate that they are encouraged by these preliminary assessments and will continue development of the project.

Keywords: feedback, teaching with technology: English, online writing center, constructivism, research

OWI Principles: 1, 13, 14, 15

Johanek, Cindy, and Rebecca Rickly. “Online Tutor Training: Synchronous Conferencing in a Professional Community.” Computers and Composition, vol. 12, no. 2, 1995, pp. 237-46.

Johanek and Rickly argue that, while scholars have paid significant attention in the field of computers and composition as of the mid-90s, not much work had been done on the relationship between computers and writing centers, in particular, synchronous online conferencing in writing centers. In particular, the authors review the scholarship behind and their use of Daedalus Interchange (a part of the Daedalus Integrated Writing System) and the Ball State University Writing Center. The article first reviews the Daedalus Interchange, then describes how this product is used in this particular context. They then reviewed four transcripts from the writing center staff from Fall 1993 and Spring 1994. They point out several benefits of using synchronous online conferencing for peer tutor training,  including 1) a willingness for tutors to challenge each other's’ ideas, 2) tutors speak more frequently in the synchronous online conference, 3) and the ability to share experiences and archive those sessions for use with future tutors. Johanek and Rickly also conducted a survey of tutors using Daedalus and found the responses to be favorable. The article ends calling for more writing centers to consider synchronous tutor training, not only because of the previously-listed benefits but also to assist tutors who need to become comfortable using online tools in the classroom.

Keywords: writing centers, online writing centers, synchronous interaction, Daedalus, tutoring: English, online tutoring, tutor training

OWI Principles: 13, 14

Johnson, J. Paul. “Writing Spaces: Technoprovocateurs and OWLs in the Late Age of Print.” Kairos, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1996,

This short hypertext document provides an overview of the primary OWLs that were available online at the turn of the 21st century. While the article is dated and not all of the hyperlinks go to active pages, the article provides an overview and basic theoretical structure for the movement of OWLs from a focus on print-text-only medium or an online space that points to a physical campus location to what Johnson (through Eric Crump) calls “technoprovocateurs,” or “a writing space ‘where quietly subversive activity can emerge.’” Johnson notes that more of the OWLs he outlines fall into the former rather than the latter categories. However, he does nod to the fact that these OWLs embody Bolter’s concept of the “late age of print” in that they are remediations of more traditional writing center spaces that are solely focused on print. This hypertext provides a description of several early OWLs and, while not all of them exist in the form they were at the time of publication, provides insight to scholars researching the history of OWLs in terms of concerns that scholars and researchers voiced as the OWL moved from the 20th to the 21st century.

Keywords: online writing labs, research, hypertext

OWI Principles: 13, 14, 15

Jones, Rodney H., et al. “Interactional Dynamics in On-Line and Face-to-Face Peer-Tutoring Sessions for Second Language Writers.” Journal of Second Language Writing, vol. 15, no. 1, 2006, pp. 1-23.

Rodney Jones, Angel Garralda, Davis C.S. Li, and Graham Lock examine two types of peer-tutoring and compare online tutoring interactions with face-to-face tutoring interactions. Using Halliday’s functional-semantic view of dialogue, the logs of online tutoring sessions were coded and compared with those from face-to-face interactions. The results showed that online tutoring fostered greater participation on the part of the student being tutored, while face-to-face interaction tended to result in hierarchical structures of communication controlled predominantly by the tutor.

Keywords: online tutoring, qualitative research, tutor training, online writing centers

OWI Principles: 1, 13, 14, 15

Kimball, Sara. “Cybertext/Cyberspeech: Writing Centers and Online Magic.” Writing Center Journal, vol. 18, no. 1, 1997, pp. 30-48.

Kimball details how she used a MUD, in an online writing lab (OWL). Because of the nature of writing in a synchronous environment, she addresses how a conversation and what she calls the “magic” identity in online spaces can lead to online anonymity. The article argues that online communicating online can assist student writers and can give writing centers chances to engage with their constituencies in new ways. The article ends with a call for study of online mediums for online writing labs, including how identity is constructed in OWL environments and the promises of how these environments help students through anonymity.

Keywords: MUD, online writing lab, synchronous interaction, identity

OWI Principles: 13, 14

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

Langston, Camille. “Resistance and Control: The Complex Process of Creating an OWL.” Kairos, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1996,

Langston’s hypertext gives a concrete example of the struggle for control of OWLs at a university in the late 1990s. While Langston assumed that putting resources into an OWL would be the biggest challenge in starting an OWL for commuter and non-traditional students at Texas Women’s University, she soon found that because the office of Academic Computing controlled the websites, she had to adjust how the question and answer discussion-list component of the OWL operated. Her example provides a glimpse into the institutional struggles one OWL faced in creating an early OWL. This hypertext is dated and contains several broken links (including the link to the original Texas Women’s OWL) but provides insight to scholars researching the history of OWLs in terms of concerns that scholars and researchers voiced as the OWL moved from the 20th to the 21st century.

Keywords: online writing labs, hypertext, administration, non-traditional students

OWI Principles: 13, 14


Lasarenko, Jane. “PR(OWL)ING AROUND: An OWL by Any Other Name.” Kairos, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1996,


Lasarenko’s hypertext catalogues the ninety-three OWLs that she found in 1996 and divides them into three categories: OWLs that advertise for on-campus labs, OWLs that offer on-site tutoring services, and OWLs that offer fully-online tutoring services. The links to each of these groups of OWLs are almost all broken, but the list itself provides a snapshot of which OWLs were functional in the mid-1990s and will provide scholars seeking to research the history of OWLs a basic list of then-operational OWLs on which to build.

Keywords: online writing labs, literature review, research, online tutoring

OWI Principles: 13, 15

Martinez, Diane, and Leslie Olsen. “Online Writing Labs.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 183-210.

Martinez and Olsen offer a comprehensive overview of OWL services, offering advice on accessibility infrastructure, function and pedagogy of services, and the essentialness of tutor training. This article emphasizes the idea that OWI must be supported by corresponding OWL services, concluding that all services and resources must be accessible to all students to insure inclusivity and that all services should be provided by highly qualified and well-trained online tutors who understand the specifics of online tutoring services. Faculty training is another key component of success for OWL services and support. This article supports OWI by insisting that OWI be accompanied by online support services.

Keywords: online writing lab, accessibility, inclusive, tutor training, synchronous interaction, tutor training, online tutoring, online resources

OWI Principle:  1, 7, 13, 14


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

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

Miller-Cochran, Susan, K. “Multilingual Writers and OWI.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 291-308.

Miller-Cochran describes the linguistically diverse culture of online writing courses and shows how the CCCC Position Statement of Principles and Examples of Effective Practices for Online Writing Instruction (OWI) should be interpreted to facilitate the inclusivity and success of all students, including multilingual students. She specifically uses the CCCC Statement on Second Language Writing and Writers to clarify and customize each OWI principle with pedagogical approaches and accommodations recommended for multilingual learners. She explains that multilingual writers have unique educational backgrounds and cultural understandings that make their specific needs difficult to identify. She also explains that multilingual students have varied experiences with technology, so competency with the specific technologies chosen for the course cannot be expected. Inclusivity thus depends on instructors overcoming their assumptions about online students being linguistically homogeneous and technologically competent. She argues writing instruction must be designed and delivered with the understanding that diversity is ever present, as are the challenges associated with teaching academic writing to students in the process of learning English as another language. She makes the case that instructors need to be prepared and appropriately trained to teach writing to linguistically diverse students. Referring multilingual writers to external resources such as writing centers is one option. However, Miller-Cochran also emphasizes that options, accommodations, and effective pedagogical practices for linguistically diverse students must be part of the instructional design.

Keywords: inclusivity, accessibility, ELL, ESL, L2, multilingual writers, course and program design: English, online writing centers, writing centers,

OWI Principles: 1, 13

Minter, Deborah. “Administrative Decisions for OWI.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 211-26.

Minter argues that WPAs must make smart and ethical decisions for online writing instruction in their programs and should look to the CCCC Position Statement of Principles and Examples of Effective Practices for Online Writing Instruction (OWI) for direction. Factors that WPAs should consider include class size and student preparation. Class size is pertinent for the same reasons class size matters for onsite courses; however, Minter references current OWI research that argues reading for both teachers and students in online writing courses can increase significantly with each new student, as both students and teachers read more for each student actively participating in the course. Student preparation for online learning is also a crucial consideration. WPAs should advocate for ethical support and professional development for online writing instructors, which extends to student preparation for online learning. Student orientations to online writing courses and comparable support, such as online writing consultation and access to library faculty, are crucial to student success. Minter closes with a brief discussion of the need for WPAs to advocate for financial support of online writing instruction and financial incentives for teaching online courses.

Keywords: writing program administration, course caps, reading, faculty workload, online resources, online writing programs, faculty satisfaction, student preparation, orientations,

OWI Principles 1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13

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

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

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

OWI Principles: 2, 13, 14

Moody, Suzan. “OWLs and ESL Students.” Kairos, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1996,

Moody’s hypertext catalogues the 8 OWLs that provided services for ESL students as of Fall 1995. She divides the services into three categories: 1) OWLs that provide online tutoring through synchronous online environments (such as MOOs), 2)OWLs that provide asynchronous tutoring through email, and 3) OWLs that consist of list-servs that provide information about learning English. While this hypertext is dated and not all of the hyperlinks work, it provides scholars seeking to research the history of OWLs a basic list of ESL OWLs available in the 1990s.

Keywords: ELL, ESL, multilingual writers, hypertext, online writing lab, MOO, email, listservs, online tutoring

OWI principles: 1, 13

Neaderhiser, Stephen, and Joanna Wolfe. “Between Technological Endorsement and Resistance: The State of Online Writing Centers.” The Writing Center Journal, vol. 29, no. 1, 2009, pp. 49-77.

Starting with identifying the various definitions of the term “online writing lab” (OWL) and discussing the types of online services often provided in these spaces, this article lays a foundation for past and current practices of OWLs. The authors identify each type of service, explain the type of technology needed for each service, and explain the benefits as well as potential problems of certain technological services. The authors then discuss the results of a 2006 survey conducted by The Writing Centers Research Project that included 1,286 respondents from the US and Canada. The results conclude that the creation of OWLs  is increasing across institutions. However, the infrastructure of the OWL is sometimes expensive and not often supported by institutional funding. For some centers, this financial challenge has led to outsourcing online services to companies such as Smarthinking. The findings also concluded that 90% of OWLs still rely most heavily on asynchronous or email based services despite the advancement of synchronous online communication applications and that research institutions were more likely to try new technologies for an online writing conference.

Keywords: online writing lab, asynchronous interaction, writing center, technology, research, surveys, qualitative research

OWI Principle:  13, 14, 15

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

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

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

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

Palmquist, Michael, et al. “Network Support for Writing Across the Curriculum: Developing an Online Writing Center.” Computers and Composition, vol. 12, no. 3, 1995, pp. 335-53.

Michael Palmquist, Dawn Rodrigues, Kate Kiefer, and Donald Zimmerman review their previous research on writing across the curriculum (WAC) efforts and argue that “computer-network technologies make it possible to consider an alternative to the indirect, top-down pedagogy used in most WAC programs” (335). By expanding the audience considered in WAC programs to not only faculty but also students themselves, Palmquist et al. insist that an integrated model of teaching, including team-teaching and content and writing specialists is the soundest model for WAC programs. However, because many campuses lack funding for such a robust WAC model, the article recommends instead centering the initiative in an online writing center (OWC). They then outline the process of developing their “network-supported writing-center-based WAC program” (340). They developed modular media courseware that was accessible by students using the Asymetrix Multimedia Toolbox 3.0 (344). In addition, they developed reference programs and tutorials to assist writers working at multiple stages of the writing process. Palmquist et al. conclude with a list of benefits and challenges to their model, and they encourage others seeking to implement this approach to begin with campus-wide conversations about the importance of writing at each individual campus.

Keywords: WAC, online writing center, research, literature review

OWI Principles: 13, 14, 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

Rankins-Robertson, Sherry et al. “Multimodal Instruction: Pedagogy and Practice for Enhancing Multimodal Composition Online.” Kairos 2014, vol. 19, no. 1,


Sherry Rankins-Robertson, Tiffany Bourelle, Andrew Bourelle, and David Fisher argue for using multimodality in online courses to “design online writing courses with digital tools to deliver instructional content and facilitate feedback.” This webtext not only lays out the argument for multimodality but mirrors the content through the design of the text, which looks like what a student using Writer’s Studio might encounter when accessing and navigating through a class that implements multimodal elements. Each section of the webtext demonstrates how the course is designed while simultaneously describing what elements would go in each section of the course and how those elements supported student learning. The webtext provides a sample assignment sequence and student response to that assignment to demonstrate how a multimodal sequence in the online class works. Finally, the authors discuss the challenges and constraints of both encouraging students to create multimodal projects and providing multimodal feedback to those students (samples of multimodal feedback is included as well). Instructors implementing multimodal course assignments and learning objects are encouraged to keep assignments simple, to use popular media, and to plan assignments so that they can be reused. This article provides a thorough theoretical and practical description of how multimodal assignments can work effectively in the online classroom with a clear description of the challenges of implementing these assignments.


Keywords: multimodal, learning management systems, video: English, collaboration, student-to-student interaction, student engagement


OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 10, 13, 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

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

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

Keywords: literacy, technology

OWI Principles:  1, 2, 10, 13

Severino, Carol, et al. “Comparison of Online Feedback Requests by Non-Native English-Speaking and Native English-Speaking Writers.” The Writing Center Journal, vol. 29., no. 1, 2009, pp. 106-29.

The authors conduct an empirical study of the types of feedback requests made by Non-Native English Speakers (NNES) in comparison with those made by their Native English Speaker (NES) counterparts. The study used feedback requests from the online tutoring program at the University of Iowa writing center and were categorized based on the type of request, ranging from “satisfy assignment or task” and “development” to “style and syntax” and “grammar and punctuation” (116). The study asked whether NNES writers were more likely to submit requests for certain types of feedback, and if so, what kind. The results prove that NNES writers do submit more requests for grammar and punctuation help, but they are almost equally as likely as NES writers to submit requests for help in other areas of concern, including higher-order skills.

Keywords: empirical research, ESL, ELL, EFL, L2, multilingual writers, grammar & syntax, online tutoring

OWI Principle 1, 13, 15

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


St. Amant, Kirk. “Distance Education in a Global Age: A Perspective for Internationalizing Online Learning Communities.” ACM SIGGROUP Bulletin, special issue on Online Learning Communities, vol. 25, no. 1, 2004, pp. 12-19. ACM Digital Library,

St. Amant identifies ways in which online writing instructors can design online writing courses with a global audience in mind. St. Amant outlines the special challenges faced by instructors who are building online learning communities of international learners. He provides strategies for instructors in terms of the language and rhetoric in their online classes; the interfaces and visual design of their online classes; and the culture, technology and information access in online classes. Finally, he provides resources for online writing instructors seeking to know more about designing classes for international students. This article provides key ideas for educators wishing to create more inclusive, accessible classrooms for international learners.

Keywords: accessibility, culture, communication, global, audience, rhetoric, visual design, course and program design: English, inclusivity

OWI Principles: 1, 10, 13

St. Amant, Kirk. “Online Education in an Age of Globalization: Foundational Perspectives and Practices for Technical Communication Instructors and Trainers.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 16, no. 1, 2007, pp. 13-30.

St. Amant highlights the conditions for opportunities to offer online courses in technical communication to students across the globe and discusses the pedagogical implications that need to be considered when designing a course that will be effective for international students. St. Amant points to several trends that create opportunities to make courses available to international students, including increased Internet access around the world, deregulation of global education, increased interest and acceptance of online education, and international interest in technical communication coupled with a dearth of technical communication experts or scholars in non-Western countries. He suggests that these conditions highlight that the time is right for institutions to bring online technical communication education to the international marketplace. However, St. Amant argues that opening courses to international students is not enough; courses must be designed specifically with a diverse international audience in mind, and instructors must receive training on how international factors affect the effectiveness of their courses. St. Amant offers four areas to consider when designing a course for international students: access, design, scheduling, and language. In terms of access, factors such as telecommunication infrastructure, power-electric infrastructure, and bandwidth capabilities will impact students’ ability to access online content. The author offers several strategies for instructors to consider in addressing this issue including allowing the use of alternative media like phones or fax, distributing course materials in hard copy form prior to the start of a course, designing course pages to download quickly and be easily printed, and limiting the number of online activities required. In terms of design, the author points out that different cultures have different associations with design features such as images and colors; therefore, he suggests limiting the use of images, or at least including text that provide context with images. St. Amant then discusses scheduling, highlighting that because students will be in diverse time zones, details such as including time zone designation on due dates and avoiding using terms like “yesterday” or “tomorrow” which may be relative to a specific time zone, can make a difference in avoiding confusion. Finally, St. Amant argues that because online communication is often done through writing, written language proficiency is crucial to students’ success. Asking students to share their background so an instructor can anticipate language challenges, offering a weekly glossary of terms for all students, or providing a link to a dictionary are important steps to help students avoid the obstacle of language related struggles. St. Amant points out that while these suggestions might seems simple, they are crucial for designing a course where international students can be successful. This article expands on St. Amant’s previous article “Distance Education in a Global Age: A Perspective for Internationalizing Online Learning Communities.”

Keywords: technical and professional writing, globalization, global, course and program design: English, accessibility, best practices

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 13

Starke‐Meyerring, Doreen, and Linda S. Clemens. "Theoretical and Practical Considerations for Virtual Learning Environments in Technical Communication: An Annotated Bibliography." Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 2, 1999, pp. 125-41.

This article provides an annotated bibliography of sources related to virtual learning environments for technical communication. Starke-Meyerring and Clemens note that they chose sources that related to praxis, including sources published on the Internet and aimed for a middle ground between theory and practice. They arrange sources according to the steps technical communicators take when entering the field: overviews, designs, implementation, and evaluation. Their annotations provide a summary of the sources and an evaluation of their usefulness for those in the field of technical communication who are also interested in online learning.

Keywords: technical and professional communication, virtual classroom, praxis, literature review

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

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

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

Thiel, Teresa. Report on Online Tutoring Services. University of Missouri-St. Louis, 2010,

Theil analyzes and evaluates two online, commercial tutoring services, NetTutor and Smarthinking, for undergraduate-level courses and recommends that the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) adopt NetTutor to provide online tutoring services for online courses. In evaluating the two services, Theil measured the quality and efficacy of tutoring, the ease of access and integration with the university’s LMS (Blackboard), the breadth of subjects offered, satisfaction of current users, and value. Ultimately, NetTutor was deemed the best because its quality of tutoring was slightly higher than Smarthinking, possibly because its tutors work from a central location with resources and supervision. Of particular interest to OWI instructors are the reasons that Theil recommends commercial alternatives to in-house writing centers: cost effectiveness and quality. Based on a recent comparison of tutoring quality between the USML Writing Lab and Smarthinking, the English department is “reconsidering whether” offering in-house online tutoring “is a good idea” (19). Theil notes that providing quality in-house online tutoring services “would require a dedicated staff to find, train, and monitor the tutors,” thereby increasing costs (19). She believes that the USML Writing Lab should continue offering onsite services and be supplemented with NetTutor to meet the needs of different student populations.

Keywords: online tutoring, tutor training, accessibility, online writing centers, administration

OWI Principles: 1, 6, 13, 14

Thompson, Gene. “Moving Online: Changing the Focus of a Writing Center.” SiSAL Journal, vol. 5, no. 2, 2014, pp. 127-42.

To address the limitations of a small departmental writing center in Japan, Thompson uses survey data to identify and accommodate student needs. Thompson explains that the dialogic, process-oriented tutor sessions common to North American writing centers frequently did not match the expectations of students who often came to the writing center with straightforward questions about assignment guidelines, grammar, or citations. Moreover, due to budgetary and space constraints, the writing center was only open on a walk-in basis for about six hours a week. The few students who came to the center usually did so all at once, forcing the center to turn many students away. To remedy this situation, two changes were made: the introduction of an online reservation system and the creation of an online resource lab for handouts and references. After one semester, students were surveyed to determine the efficacy of the changes. The results indicated that of the students who used the writing center, most accessed the online resources instead of coming in for a face-to-face session. Based on these findings, tutor sessions were suspended, and more materials were added to the online resource lab. A subsequent survey indicated that over 90% of the students surveyed found the online resources useful. Thompson proposes that tutor sessions be reincorporated in the third stage of this study, but only online, through the institution’s new LMS. Ultimately, Thompson argues that user-focused data is needed when determining how best to meet students’ needs. While this is a small, context-specific study, it provides a simple yet effective model for OWI instructors and administrators interested in evaluating and improving their own classes and programs.

Keywords: writing center, online writing lab, surveys, grammar & style, surveys, research, online resources, course management system, qualitative research, evaluation

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 13, 14, 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. Teaching Writing Online: How and Why. National Council of Teachers of English, 2009.

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

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

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

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

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