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OLOR Effective Practices Publications, 2020-2021

Using Think-aloud Protocols to Model Metacognitive Reading Strategies

by Charlotte Asmuth

I have used think-aloud protocols in 300-level research writing in the disciplines courses, 100-level face-to-face first-year writing courses, and an online, asynchronous first year-writing course. The online course, English 102: Intermediate College Writing, was delivered at a four-year, public research university through the institution’s LMS (Blackboard). Think-aloud protocols, however, can be used in a variety of other courses, such as business and technical writing courses. Think-aloud protocols can also be used by instructors in other disciplines to help make tacit knowledge and practices explicit for students.

Supporting Online Learning with Writing-to-Learn Activities

by Amy Cicchino

Writing-to-Learn assignments are short response activities that encourage critical thinking and active learning. While writing-to-learn assignments must be connected to a course’s outcomes, these activities are low-stakes opportunities for students to engage with course content outside of high-stakes assignments. However, a writing prompt is not writing-to-learn just because it is low-stakes. Writing-to-learn prompts use writing as a tool for learning through activities that encourage students to explore ideas, refine thoughts, and apply new knowledge. This article will describe writing-to-learn activities from hybrid professional writing courses and online, asynchronous introductory composition courses. However, writing-to-lean can be used in any course, even courses outside of writing studies. This practice addresses OLI Principle 3, which states that when appropriate, “reading, alphabetic writing, and multimodal composition theories from traditional instructional settings” should “migrate and/or adapt” to online learning environments.

Blackboard Ally: Can Digital Tools Help Us Identify Teaching Accessible Practices?

by Amy Cicchino, Lindsay Clark, and Traci Austin

Using screenshots from our own courses, we demonstrate how Ally brought specific accessibility issues to our attention. We also discuss how this experience prompted us to consider the degree to which these changes increase the accessibility of these resources and what other considerations might be overlooked by the program. This practice addresses OLI Principle 1: "Online literacy instruction should be universally accessible and inclusive."

Introducing Students to Writing on the Web

by Jason Custer

Writing on the Web builds on decades of traditional composition theory that suggests students learn more and become better writers by participating in the process of writing (Berlin; Britton; Murray). The waves of scholarship that brought this thinking to the forefront of composition studies, however, came at a time when composition studies only just started to wrestle with supporting digital writing (Holmes; Summerfield). While this activity builds on the aforementioned tradition in composition studies of encouraging students to develop writing skills and metacognition through the practice of writing, it presents a way to do that task in online environments. Contrary to the insistence of some pundits that modern students are “digital natives” whose computer skills are well beyond our own (Prensky), I find that a low-stakes activity like Writing on the Web helps students better understand how writing online differs from writing on a standard page in a word processor.

Supervising Team Projects Effectively in an Online Writing Course

by Theresa M. Evans

Team projects are always difficult to supervise, but online courses present unique challenges: The instructor has limited opportunity for real-time observations of and interactions with student teams, as they collaborate virtually in digital spaces. Still, virtual collaboration is an important skillset to develop, given that distributed teams are becoming more common in the workplace. Team projects in online courses create—for both instructors and students—a double burden of working with subject content and developing successful strategies for virtual communication and work processes (Paretti et al., 2007, p. 331). I encourage a layered approach to teamwork through my efforts to scaffold—to structure—team projects in online writing courses. Students have ongoing scheduled check-ins with me, which they can use as a starting point for their more detailed team schedule. These check-ins include at least one synchronous meeting and a combination of individual and team assignments that build towards the final deliverables.

Content Delivery for Remote Learning: An Accessible Approach that Combines Asynchronous and Synchronous Learning

by Katelyn Stark

The teaching approach outlined here combines short, small-group synchronous online class meetings with asynchronous activities in order to deliver dense content while encouraging student engagement and participation. This approach was originally employed in an upper-level Rhetoric course that started as a f2f course in Spring 2020 but moved online due to COVID-19. As remote instruction continues for Fall 2020, this article will explain how a dual approach to remote instruction can be carried out for content-heavy courses across the disciplines. The practice addresses OWI Principle 1 and OWI Principle 4.

“The Provoker” Discussion Board Threads

by Scott Warnock with Lisa Schepis-Myers

"The Provoker" is a contradictory voice on the course discussions who challenges students with hyperbolic and oftentimes outrageous positions. Teachers who use discussion boards as dialogue platforms in their courses as regular practice can add a Provoker thread. The goal is to help students develop arguments using evidence, logic, and rhetorical skill—instead of succumbing to hostile discourse; indeed, a key strategy of Provoker threads is to help students practice civilized, respectful digital discourse.

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