Online Writing Instruction: Different Media, Different Expectations — Still Good Teaching, Learning, and Writing

writingThis year I am the Coordinator of Writing Center Outreach, so it may come as a surprise that I’m going to talk about online writing instruction (OWI). But it’s a topic of importance to how I see myself as a writing teacher and researcher because I have a passion for studying and teaching writing in online environments. Last year, I was fortunate enough to serve as the Coordinator of the Online Writing Center (OWC), and I had the opportunity to seriously consider differences among face-to-face (f2f), synchronous “chat,” and asynchronous “email” instruction.

When I began the training for my colleagues working on the Online Writing Center last year, I started by stating that online writing instruction differs from f2f, yet “good teaching, good learning, and good writing can emerge from networked spaces” (Harrington, Rickly, & Day, 2000). Online writing instruction is also a topic that I’ve seen on the wcenter list-serv, as writing center directors/coordinators explore the possibility of starting OWCs on their campuses and seek out best practices, so I hope to explain in the extremely limited scope of this post a few of these differences and address concerns about the effectiveness of OWI.  At the end, I’ll provide a couple resources for online writing instruction.